Alabama-Florida State joins short list of recent top 10 college football clashes in Week 1
Alabama and Florida State have both shown they aren't afraid of challenging the top dogs in Week 1. Last year, the Crimson Tide dismantled No. 20 USC in Dallas while the Seminoles made a memorable comeback against No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando.
This year, these two national powers will be pitted against each other to start the 2017 season, on neutral turf in Atlanta's brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There, fans will be treated to a season-opening No. 1 vs. No. 3 matchup.
Saturday's clash marks the sixth time in the past nine seasons that two Top 10 teams in the AP preseason poll will face off in Week 1. The previous five instances all came in 2009-13.
|2013||No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 8 Clemson||Clemson won 38-35||Clemson, No. 8; Georgia, NR|
|2012||No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 8 Michigan||Alabama won 41-14||Alabama, No. 1; Michigan, No. 24|
|2011||No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU||LSU won 40-27||LSU, No. 2; Oregon, No. 4|
|2010||No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech||Boise State won 33-30||Boise State, No. 9; Virginia Tech, No. 16|
|2009||No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech||Alabama won 34-24||Alabama, No. 1; Virginia Tech, No. 10|
This year's opener will be just the second Top 5 matchup during this span, and the first to include the preseason No. 1. Alabama, which grabbed 52 of 61 first place votes in this year's preseason rankings, is 2-0 in Top 10 showdowns in Week 1 since 2009.
The Crimson Tide won the national title in both of those seasons after picking up resume-building wins in Week 1. A win this year against FSU would keep the Tide on a straight path toward a third such title. A loss, in this new age of a four-team College Football Playoff, likely wouldn't eliminate them from contention.
The same applies for Florida State, which seeks its first ACC title since 2014.
The pressure to start with a win still mounts for each side as they prepare for the top must-watch game of Week 1, which reportedly sold out as early as the first week of July. Before tuning in for Saturday night's primetime matchup, here's a look back at how the five most recent Top 10 season-openers shaped the season:
No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson | Aug. 31, 2013
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd lifted the Tigers to a thrilling 38-35 victory at home over the No. 5 Bulldogs behind five touchdowns and 312 total yards. Clemson's 87-yard drive ending in a Stanton Seckinger touchdown reception put the game out of reach.
Clemson started the 2013 season 6-0 and finished 11-2, at No. 8 in the final AP poll (right where the Tigers started). The Tigers topped Ohio State 40-35 in that year's entertaining Orange Bowl. Georgia finished 8-5 and landed outside the Top 25.
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 8 Michigan | Sept. 1, 2012
Alabama flexed its muscles with a 41-14 rout of Michigan in Arlington, Texas. The Tide scored the first 31 points and stifled Michigan's dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson, who was held to 227 yards and had two interceptions.
Alabama moved up to No. 1 in Week 2 and held that spot for nine weeks before falling to Texas A&M in November. The Tide then reclaimed the top spot with a 42-14 victory over No. 1 Notre Dame in the national championship game. The Wolverines, meanwhile, slipped to No. 24 in the final rankings with a loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. You may remember that game for this earth-shattering hit behind the line of scrimmage by Jadeveon Clowney.
No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU | Sept. 3, 2011
In the first Week 1 battle between Top 5 teams since 1984, LSU took advantage of Oregon's four turnovers and 12 penalties in a 40-27 win. The LSU running back duo of Spencer Ware and Michael Ford combined for 195 rushing yards and three touchdowns, including two in the third quarter that opened up a 30-13 lead.
LSU rose to No. 1 in Week 5 and finished the regular season undefeated before losing to conference rival Alabama in the national title game 21-0. Oregon rebounded to finish the year 12-2 with a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.
No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech | Sept. 6, 2010
Boise State backed up its best preseason rank in program history with a 33-30 victory over Virginia Tech to open up the 2010 campaign. Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore engineered the game-winning drive with 1:09 left, driving Boise State 56 yards in 38 seconds. Austin Pettis came down with the 13-yard touchdown catch to finish off a two-score day.
Boise State finished a 12-1 season with a MAACO Bowl victory over Arizona to hold down the No. 9 spot in the final AP poll. Its only loss came in November to TCU. The Hokies lost their final two games, including the Sugar Bowl to Michigan, to go 11-3.
No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech | Sept. 5, 2009
Credit the Hokies for playing back-to-back season-openers against Top 5 squads. But they came away empty both times in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, Alabama used an 18-point fourth quarter to down Virginia Tech 34-24 in Atlanta.
Eventual Heisman winner Mark Ingram started the year with 150 yards and a touchdown while the Tide's defense limited Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a 9-of-20 passing day for only 91 yards and no touchdowns.
Alabama won its first of four titles under Nick Saban that year, defeating Colt McCoy and the Texas Longhorns in the BCS Championship. Virginia Tech finished with 10 wins and found redemption in Atlanta to close out the year with a victory over Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.