The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida State Seminoles opened their 2017 seasons Saturday at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. With Alabama ranked No. 1 and Florida State No. 3 in the preseason AP Poll, the game was touted as a battle of heavyweights.
Alabama kicked a field goal with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead. Early in the second quarter, FSU junior Auden Tate caught a short touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois to put the ‘Noles on top 7-3.
It looked for a moment like the Seminoles may have found a hole or two in the vaunted Alabama defense, which ranked first in the NCAA in total yards allowed a season ago.
But, Florida State never found the end zone again. The Seminoles turned the ball over three times in the game.
Meanwhile, Alabama’s offense looked comfortable in its supporting role. Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts, who posted 2,780 yards and a completion percentage of 62.8 a year ago as the Tide rolled to its second consecutive College Football Championship berth, did just enough to give his team the victory. He completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 96 yards and led the team in rushing with 55 yards on 15 carries.
Just over two minutes after FSU scored its only touchdown, Hurts found junior wideout Calvin Ridley for a 53-yard touchdown.
Ridley caught seven passes for 82 yards and one touchdown in the game. He has been a crucial weapon to Alabama’s offense since he first donned a Crimson Tide uniform in 2015. Last year, he recorded 769 yards and seven touchdowns on 72 receptions. The year before, he posted seven touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards on 89 catches.
By all indications, Ridley will continue to figure heavily into the Tide’s attack under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Sporting News notes.
Alabama capitalized on back-to-back special teams miscues by the Seminoles to score twice in 13 seconds as the third quarter drew to a close. After running back Damien Harris blocked an FSU punt, senior kicker Andy Pappanostos, who transferred from Ole Miss after the 2015 season, added a field goal for the Tide with 1:54 to go in the third.
Sophomore FSU receiver Keith Gavin, who played in just one game last year and did not record a reception, fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Alabama linebacker Keith Holcombe recovered, setting Harris up for an 11-yard touchdown. Ridley capped off the Tides by catching a delivery from Hurts for a two-point conversion, giving the Tide an even 14-point lead.
That pair of special teams errors by the Seminoles followed a blocked FSU field goal that came as time expired in the first half.
Pappanostos tacked on another field goal for the Tide midway through the fourth. Alabama won by a score of 24-7.
There are a few positives for Florida State to take away. Francois recorded over twice as many passing yards (210) as Hurts (96), and the Seminoles recorded two more first downs than Alabama, though FSU’s three turnovers, along with the Tide’s two blocks, gave Alabama short fields.
Alabama’s run defense, though, which has become its hallmark under head coach Nick Saban, appears to be as impenetrable as ever, SportingNews points out. The Seminoles averaged less than two yards per carry, posting 40 yards on 27 rushes.on
Multiple violent incidents broke out amongst spectators, The New York Daily News reports. Two were captured on video. In one of the recorded incidents, one fan reportedly grabbed another by her back and smashed her head into the concrete on the concourse level of the stadium. The woman was hospitalized.
The other video shows a brawl that broke out in the seats. At least one man threw a number of punches before security removed him from the section.
Police arrested a father and a son on battery charges in connection with the violence. It is not clear to which incident the arrests relate.
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