It’s the first full weekend of big time college football and none of the match-ups will top FSU and Alabama in Atlanta, but nevertheless there are three other ranked state schools in action and here’s how it lays out:
12:30 p.m. Bethune-Cookman at Miami
Year two of the Mark Richt Miami make-over gets an easy test with the Wildcats at Hard Rock Stadium. The Canes have elected to go with Malik Rosier after an extensive off season QB battle to replace the departed Brad Kaaya. One big thing in Miami’s favor is one of the ACC’s top rushers, Mark Walton, is back and should bolster the offense no matter whom is under center. Canes should blow this one open early and name the score.
3:30 p.m. Michigan vs. Florida (Arlington, TX)
In what was supposed to be a “Co-Main Event” to the Noles and Tide in prime time, the Gators and Wolverines will tangle at AT & T Stadium in a large Big Ten vs. SEC showdown. But, the biggest backdrop is the myriad of suspensions involving a credit card fraud scandal and other incidents. And, the second biggest story line is the Gators opening the season with a red shirt freshman QB (Feliepe Franks) for the first time since Kerwin Bell in 1984.
For their part, the Wolverines, who were in position to make the College Football Playoff until back to back road losses at Iowa and Ohio State ruined that, have personnel issues, too. Michigan lost 11 players off the ’16 squad to the NFL, including RB De’Veon Smith and All American safety Jabril Peppers. They will have numerous players “learning by fire” in this one.
4:00 p.m. Stony Brook at USF
A week ago, the Bulls opened on the road at San Jose State and fell behind immediately, 16-0. Then, they showed their offensive weapons led by last year’s AAC Offensive Player of the Year, Quinton Flowers throwing two TDs and new starting running back D’Ernest Johnson running for two more. It turned out to be an easy second half and win. Now, USF will be a heavy favorite to roll the Seawolves of FCS fame. It is new coach Charlie Strong’s home opener and the Bulls should have an easy time of it.
And finally, 8:00 p.m. Alabama vs. Florida State (Atlanta)
Well, after an entire off season of build up, arguably the best opening game match-up ever is finally here. Preseason #1 Alabama will take on #3 FSU in a game at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium that will be talked about for all those reasons for some time to come. Alabama brings back, now sophomore star QB Jalen Hurts (above) who as a duel threat freshman a year ago led the Tide to within a whisker of winning back to back national titles. He will give the Noles all kinds of challenges, especially with his elusiveness and ability to break long runs. Bama also has another in the long line outstanding running backs in Bo Scarbrough ready to pound it between the tackles. Not unlike Mark Ingram, Eddie Lacy, Trent Richardson and Derrick Henry, Scarbrough will bash the defense. Also, remember Scarborough has recovered this off season from a broken leg in the second half of the dramatic title game loss to Clemson in January.
For Florida State, their equally outstanding QB Deondre Francois will lead them in this game. The biggest question is will the Seminole offensive line protect him or will he be like a pinata out there, like he was many Saturdays a year ago. FSU has to also replace outstanding RB Dalvin Cook, who left for the NFL. They, will do so with Jacques Patrick, a reserve, who carried a little a year ago. Also, Florida State welcomes back a fully healthy Derwin James, after suffering a knee injury in game two and electing to have micro-fracture surgery to give it the best chance to heal last year and early this year. James is the kind of player that lives for games like this Bama one and he may very well make a huge play or two in this one.
We look forward to recapping all of the Labor Day weekend Saturday action!