Nos. 1 and 3 face off with a lot on line
Previewing Alabama-Florida State and college football’s other top matchups, NFL and baseball team-by-team notes, MLB box scores and stats.
A look at the the top Football Bowl Subdivision games for the upcoming week:
NO. 1 ALABAMA VS. NO. 3 FLORIDA STATE IN ATLANTA
Sept. 2, 8 p.m., ABC Consensus line: Alabama by 7
Both teams have visions of playing on the final day of the season in Atlanta. A victory in the same stadium that will host the Jan. 8 College Football Playoff national championship game will surely help them get there.
The Crimson Tide begin what they hope is their fifth national championship run since 2009, and they have enough pieces back from a team that came within a few seconds of a title last year to make those dreams realistic. QB Jalen Hurts is coming off a stellar freshman year, but he and Alabama will have a tough test against a Florida State team that gets back S Derwin James, who missed most of last year with a knee injury.
This is a chance for Florida State QB Deondre Francois to demonstrate how much progress he’s made between his redshirt freshman and sophomore years. The stingy Alabama defense, anchored by versatile DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, will try to flummox the Seminoles, who must replace workhorse RB Dalvin Cook. Touted freshman RB Cam Akers could emerge as the primary replacement. Who wins? Alabama 27-21
NO. 7 WASHINGTON AT RUTGERS
Sept. 1, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1 Consensus line: Washington by 271⁄ 2
After breaking out last season and earning a College Football Playoff berth, the Huskies begin a manageable non-conference slate with a trip east. Washington returns QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin, who should get off to good starts against a Scarlet Knights bunch coming off a 2-10 season. Rutgers has much to improve; it ranked last nationally in total offense and 126th (of 128) in stopping the run. Who wins? Washington 41-7
MARYLAND AT NO. 23 TEXAS
Sept. 2, noon, Fox Sports 1 Consensus line: Texas by 18
A new era begins in Austin as Tom Herman, who coached at Houston the last two years, takes over the Longhorns for fired Charlie Strong. Texas is coming off three consecutive losing seasons, but Strong’s recruiting has left an improved talent base in place, including QB Shane Buechele and LB Malik Jefferson. The Terrapins enter the season with considerable quarterback questions and a defense in need of improvement, but RB Ty Johnson averaged 9.1 yards per carry last season. Who wins? Texas 45-17 Sept. 2, 3:30 p.m., ABC Consensus line: Michigan by 31⁄
Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan team is young, though expectations remain high. Florida had a threeman competition for its starting quarterback job, with returnee Luke Del Rio, Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks in the mix. Gators receiver James Robinson, cited for marijuana possession last week, won’t play. Who wins? Florida 17-16
TEMPLE AT NOTRE DAME
Sept. 2, 3:30 p.m., NBC Consensus line: Notre Dame by 171⁄ 2
The Fighting Irish can finally put an offseason of hearing about last year’s 4-8 nosedive in the past. Coach Brian Kelly retooled his coaching staff and will have a new quarterback in Brandon Wimbush. The defending American Athletic Conference champion Owls had their own offseason transition, hiring Florida assistant coach Geoff Collins when coach Matt Rhule left for Baylor. Who wins? Notre Dame 27-17
WESTERN MICHIGAN AT NO. 4 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Sept. 2, 5:15 p.m., Pac-12 Networks Consensus line: Southern Cal by 27
Expectations are high in Los Angeles as the Trojans have one of the top quarterbacks (Sam Darnold) and running backs (Ronald Jones) in the country and enter the season on a nine-game winning streak. Western Michigan completed a perfect regular season but lost coach P.J. Fleck to Minnesota and WR Corey Davis yet still could be dangerous. Who wins? Southern Cal 42-14
NO. 17 LOUISVILLE VS. PURDUE IN INDIANAPOLIS
Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., Fox Consensus line: Louisville by 241⁄ 2
Louisville QB Lamar Jackson’s attempt to join former Ohio State star Archie Griffin as the only two-time Heisman Trophy winners begins with a game against rebuilding Purdue. Jackson threw for 3,543 yards and rushed for 1,571 yards last season, and he’ll face a Boilermakers defense that ranked 125th against the run last 2 year. New Purdue coach Jeff Brohm is a former assistant to Louisville coach Bobby Petrino. Who wins? Louisville 48-20
BYU VS. NO. 12 LSU IN NEW ORLEANS
Sept. 2, 9:30 p.m., ESPN Consensus line: LSU by 141⁄ 2
The Tigers, in their first full season under Ed Orgeron, have a new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada but are still built to run thanks to a stout offensive line and junior RB Derrius Guice (1,387 yards in 2016). BYU turns back to 2015 QB starter Tanner Mangum (3,377 passing yards, 23 TDs that year). Who wins? LSU 24-14
TEXAS A&M AT UCLA SEPT. 3, 7:30 P.M., FOX
Consensus line: UCLA by 41⁄ 2
This could be a pivotal year for both coaches. Texas A&M has perfected the hot start followed by a late-season fade under Kevin Sumlin, and the Aggies have finished 8-5 in each of the last three seasons. UCLA slumped to 4-8 last year, with QB Josh Rosen’s season-ending shoulder injury exacerbating matters. The Bruins have talent, and a Jim Mora-engineered turnaround could happen with Rosen back. \Who wins? Texas A&M 34-31
NO. 20 WEST VIRGINIA VS. NO. 22 VIRGINIA TECH IN LANDOVER, MD.
Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m., ABC Consensus line: Virginia Tech by 41⁄
The teams meet for the first time since 2005 in a matchup of excellent defenses. Both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks, with redshirt freshman Josh Jackson leading the Hokies. West Virginia turns to Florida transfer Will Grier, who was suspended in 2015 for a banned substance before moving to Morgantown. Who wins? Virginia Tech 27-20
GEORGIA TECH VS. NO. 24 TENNESSEE IN ATLANTA
Sept. 4, 8 p.m., ESPN Consensus line: Tennessee by 3
This game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Yellow Jackets were rocked when FB Dedrick Mills was dismissed from the program in the middle of camp. They will run its usual triple-option offense and could find success against a Volunteers defense that ranked 104th against the run last year. Junior Quinten Dormady and redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano competed for the Vols QB job Who wins? Georgia Tech 27-24
Times Eastern. Odds for consensus lines provided by SportsDirect Inc.
Florida State is banking on improvement from quarterback Deondre Francois, who completed 58.8% of his passes in 2016.