‘Bama-FSU can make long-term im­pact

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

The re­sult of the Alabama-Florida State could be a topic of con­ver­sa­tion all season, es­pe­cially among the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off se­lec­tion com­mit­tee.

The top-ranked Crim­son Tide and No. 3 Semi­noles face off in an un­prece­dented opener Satur­day in At­lanta’s shiny new sta­dium. The No. 1 team has never be­fore started the season against a higher-ranked team.

The win­ner gets an early re­sume builder, and the loser could come away bet­ter off for the ef­fort, too.

OK, we are def­i­nitely get­ting way ahead of our­selves in week one. Maybe Tide-’Noles will turn out to be this season’s Texas-Notre Dame. That game that seemed so mean­ing­ful last La­bor Day week­end, but by the end of the season ... not so much.

It is highly un­likely that’s the case this time. Alabama, Florida

State or both could miss the play­off, but the chances are ex­cel­lent they will con­tend and the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee will be try­ing to weigh this week-one data point. The ram­i­fi­ca­tions could trickle down to how other top teams in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence and At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence are judged, too.

The same could be said of a num­ber of early season non­con­fer­ence matchups in­volv­ing ranked teams: No. 11 Michi­gan vs. No. 17 Florida on Satur­day in Ar­ling­ton, Texas; No. 7 Ok­la­homa at No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Clem­son at No. 12 Auburn on Sept. 9.

When the play­off field is re­vealed on Dec. 3, re­sults of the first few weeks of the season could still be echo­ing through the se­lec­tions.

The picks:

START IT UP

Thurs­day

No. 2 Ohio State (mi­nus 20½) at In­di­ana

Big Ten game on a Thurs­day night in Au­gust. How times have changed. ... OHIO STATE 28-13.

Tulsa (plus 18) at No. 10 Ok­la­homa State

Golden Hur­ri­cane gets a chance for state­ment. Cow­boys have won five straight meet­ings ... OK­LA­HOMA STATE 4521.

FRI­DAY NIGHT LIGHTS

No. 8 Wash­ing­ton (mi­nus 27) at Rut­gers

Re­turn match of a home­and-home deal that looked like a com­pet­i­tive matchup when it was signed. Now? ... WASH­ING­TON 42-10.

Utah State (plus 27) at No. 9 Wis­con­sin

Ag­gies were a plucky non-Power Five team not long ago ... WIS­CON­SIN 48-14.

MAR­QUEE MATCHUPS

No. 1 Alabama (mi­nus 7) vs. No. 3 Florida State at At­lanta

Tide has opened with a vic­tory at a neu­tral site against a Power Five op­po­nent each of the last five sea­sons. Av­er­age score: 3914. But the Semi­noles are the best op­po­nent yet ... ALABAMA 28-17.

No. 11 Michi­gan (mi­nus 3½) vs. No. 17 Florida at Ar­ling­ton, Texas

Two teams with high ceil­ings and loads of un­cer­tainty. SEC and Big Ten fans will be ready to pounce on con­fer­ence brag­ging rights, too ... FLORIDA 24-21.

UP­SET ALERT?

No. 13 LSU (mi­nus 16) vs. BYU at New Or­leans

Game was moved from Hous­ton to the Tigers’ back­yard be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey ... LSU 2413.

Ap­palachian State (plus 14½) at No. 15 Ge­or­gia

Moun­taineers gave Ten­nessee a scare on open­ing week­end last year ... GE­OR­GIA 27-14.

Mary­land (plus 18½) at No. 23 Texas

Seems as if Texas fans have been wait­ing for the Tom Herman era to be­gin since 2015 ... TEXAS 31-14.

Mon­tana State (no line) at No. 24 Wash­ing­ton State

Cougars have lost to an FCS team to start the last two sea­sons. Couldn’t hap­pen again, could it? ... WASH­ING­TON STATE 40-17.

NEW COACHES

West­ern Michi­gan (plus 26½) at No. 4 South­ern Cal­i­for­nia

For­mer WMU star Tim Lester takes over for P.J. Fleck and gets USC on a nine-game win­ning streak ... USC 52-17, BEST BET.

No. 16 Louisville (mi­nus 24½) vs. Pur­due at In­di­anapo­lis

Jeff Brohm’s first game at Pur­due is against Heis­man win­ner La­mar Jack­son. And the sta­tus of Boil­er­mak­ers QB David Blough (shoul­der) is un­set­tled . ... LOUISVILLE 48-31.

MIS­MATCHES

Kent State (plus 40½) at No. 5 Clem­son ... CLEM­SON 56-10.

Akron (plus 30½) No. 6 Penn State ... PENN STATE 50-14.

UTEP (plus 43) at No. 7 Ok­la­homa ... OK­LA­HOMA 58-10.

Ge­or­gia South­ern (plus 34) at No. 12 Auburn ... AUBURN 52-14.

NO-NFL SUN­DAY

No. 21 Vir­ginia Tech (mi­nus 4) vs. No. 22 West Vir­ginia at Lan­dover, Mary­land

Long­time ri­vals and for­mer Big East foes sep­a­rated by 250 miles have not met since 2005 ... VIR­GINIA TECH 24-21.

MON­DAY NIGHT FOOT­BALL

No. 25 Ten­nessee (mi­nus 3) at Ge­or­gia Tech

Yel­low Jack­ets beat three SEC teams last season and have won five of their last six against the con­fer­ence go­ing back to 2014 ... TEN­NESSEE 24-17.

TWIT­TER RE­QUESTS

Colorado (mi­nus 5) vs. Colorado State in Den­ver, Fri­day — (at)TheMikeDono­van

Rams al­ready tuned up for Mile High Show­down by ham­mer­ing Pac-12’s Ore­gon State ... COLORADO 31-24.

Wy­oming (plus 11½) at Iowa — (at)nat­u­ral­ba­con

Cow­boys QB Josh Allen gets early chance to val­i­date some of the off­sea­son hype against a Big Ten team ... IOWA 28-20.

South Carolina (plus 5) vs. North Carolina State — (at)Bran­donKiser17

One of three SEC-ACC matchups this week­end ... N.C. STATE 27-20.

Troy (plus 11) at Boise State — (at)day­ton61

Tro­jans can make a state­ment for the Sun Belt Con­fer­ence ... BOISE STATE 38-17.

North Carolina (mi­nus 11) at Cal­i­for­nia — (at)best­coastin

Who will start at QB for the Tar Heels with Mitchell Tru­bisky gone? Coach Larry Fe­dora is not say­ing. Might not mat­ter against the de­fen­sively chal­lenged Bears ... NORTH CAROLINA 35-21.

Texas A&M (plus 3½) at UCLA, Sun­day — (at) James—hands16

Los­ing coach be­comes first of the season to get heat turned up on al­ready hot seat ... TEXAS A&M 28-23, UP­SET SPE­CIAL

Record last season: 213105 straight up; 137-173-4 against the spread.

Fol­low Ralph D. Russo at www.Twit­ter.com/ralphDrus­soAP

More col­lege foot­ball cov­er­age at http://col­lege­foot­ball.ap.org/ and www. Twit­ter.com/AP—Top25

VASHA HUNT - AL.COM VIA AP

Alabama de­fen­sive back Daniel Wright (3) works through drills dur­ing foot­ball prac­tice, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 30, 2017, at the Hank Crisp In­door Fa­cil­ity in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

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