College Football Picks: ‘Bama-FSU Can Make Long-Term Impact


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:



No. 2 Ohio State (minus 20?) 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 45-21.


No. 8 Washington (minus 27) at Rutgers

Return match of a home-and-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.


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: 39-14. But the Seminoles are the best opponent yet … ALABAMA 28-17.

No. 11 Michigan (minus 3?) 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.


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

Game was moved from Houston to the Tigers’ backyard because of Hurricane Harvey … LSU 24-13.

Appalachian State (plus 14?) at No. 15 Georgia

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

Maryland (plus 18?) 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.


Western Michigan (plus 26?) 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 24?) 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.


Kent State (plus 40?) at No. 5 Clemson … CLEMSON 56-10.

Akron (plus 30?) 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. 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.


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.


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

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

Wyoming (plus 11?) at Iowa — @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 — @BrandonKiser17

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

Troy (plus 11) at Boise State — @dayton61

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

North Carolina (minus 11) at California — @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 3?) at UCLA, Sunday — @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


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