Lights, camera, action: No. 1 Bama, No. 3 FSU ready to roll
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jalen Hurts is already accustomed to these kinds of games.
The marquee games. The biggest matchups on the largest stage.
This one pits top-ranked Alabama against No. 3 Florida State in the first-ever opening matchup of preseason Top-3 teams since the Associated Press started selecting them in 1950. The teams will square off in the fully loaded new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta under the bright lights of the national spotlight.
Hurts sounded downright unimpressed by all those trappings when the sophomore quarterback was asked if he’s used to these kinds of games: “I played in the national championship, so I guess so.”
Historic opening matchup or not, these teams are well acquainted with big games, thank you very much. They’ve each won a national title in the last five years, and Alabama has collected four in a decade under coach Nick Saban. The Tide has made a habit of playing teams from other Power Five conferences in the first or second game each season since 2008, winning all of them by double digits, including three top-10 matchups.
Last year’s 52-6 romp over thenNo. 20 USC set the table for an undefeated run into the national title game against Clemson.
As much as anybody, the Seminoles have done their part to disprove the notion that the Southeastern Conference is college football’s top league. Florida State is 9-1 against SEC teams under coach Jimbo Fisher, who will be facing Alabama and former boss Saban for the first time.
Florida State’s defense returns nine starters — including Brian Burns — this year, with their first game against Alabama.