Lights, cam­era, ac­tion: No. 1 Bama, No. 3 FSU ready to roll

Rome News-Tribune - - SPORTS - By John Zenor As­so­ci­ated Press Sports Writer

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.

Steve Can­non / The As­so­ci­ated Press

Florida State’s de­fense re­turns nine starters — in­clud­ing Brian Burns — this year, with their first game against Alabama.

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