Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher talks with quarterback Deondre Francois in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Wake Forest in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. Florida State defeated Wake Forest 17-6. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Yes, they open the season against each other.
No matter the outcome when Alabama and Florida State clash to open the season, both the Crimson Tide and Seminoles are still in a position for the College Football Playoff, so says Phil Steele.
The publisher of the 352-page Phil Steele College Football Preview joined me on The Opening Kickoff on WNSP-FM 105.5 in Mobile, Alabama, on Wednesday to talk about his picks.
“When you look at Alabama this year,” Steele explained, “they are once again loaded. They actually have an experienced quarterback for once. They’ve got the best set of running backs in the country with (Calvin) Ridley, (Robert) Foster and Company at receiver.”
Steele’s preseason magazine is due on newsstands June 27, but can be pre-ordered on download today.
He has Alabama’s linebackers (1st), offensive line (2nd), defensive backs (2nd) and defensive line (6th) units all ranked in the top 10 in the country.
In addition to Nick Saban’s team, Steele has Ohio State, Southern Cal and Florida State pegged for the College Football Playoffs.
“Last year, I got on the phone with (Florida State head coach) Jimbo Fisher after the magazine came out. … After we finished talking about each position, coach would say, “we’re going to be good next year.’ Well, next year is here for Florida State. I don’t like their schedule. They have to play Alabama, Clemson on the road, Florida on the road.
It is never too early to look ahead to the 2017 college football season. Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology released win totals for programs like Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan, Florida State, USC and more.
“I love the talent and they have experience at quarterback with Deondre Francois getting his lumps as a freshman last year.”
He points to a much-improved offensive line and an “outstanding defense” with the return of safety Derwin James, who was injured early last season.
There is the college football adage, though, if you are going to lose, then lose early. Steele believes that to be the case with Alabama and Florida State.
“I think either can lose the game and still be in the Final Four,” he explained. “Look at Florida State, if they do lose to Alabama, then run the table the rest of the way, they would be the ACC champs. Last year, it was arguably the toughest conference in football, which is rare because the SEC usually is. … If your only loss is to Alabama at the end of the year, that’s a pretty good record.”
The same holds true for Alabama, he argued.
“Even if they lose that game in the opener,” Steele said of Alabama, “they have proven in the past that they can lose a game in a season and still make it to the playoffs.
“An SEC champion is always going to get to the playoffs.”
Check out the interview at wnsp.com.