The marquee game on Saturday pits Florida State against Alabama. The Crimson Tide are 7-point favorites. It would be great for ABC if the game turned out to be close. That would also be fine with a nation full of nonpartisans antsy to see a nail-biter.
I have a confession to make, though. Despite spending most of the offseason searching for sound reasoning to support a belief the Seminoles have a fighting chance, I have been unable to get there. Try as I might, picturing DeAndre Francois carving up Alabama’s defense only results in fuzzy resolution. Picturing FSU’s playmakers completely bottling up a more experienced Jalen Hurts and thwarting a staunch running game is more realistic, yet still difficult to envision.
Worse, the sinking feeling that I’m not alone has set in. It feels as if a majority of the college football community has been doing the same thing, grasping at straws to pull where Alabama gets the short end — or barely escapes.
Now, on face value that note portends trouble. Lane Kiffin, of course, is at Florida Atlantic and won’t be calling plays for Nick Saban in Atlanta. Losing without him holding the clipboard appears to be a trend.
A deeper dive, however, reveals the three losses in question are: against Clemson in the national title game last year, the kick six game against Auburn in 2013, and the following bowl game against Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide averaged 30 points in those three games. Not exactly ineptitude.
Furthermore, Alabama lost with Kiffin at the helm — to Ole Miss in 2015 and to Ohio State in 2014. Offensive coordinators not named Kiffin are 24-4 in the Tide’s last 28 games. Not exactly cause for concern.
It’s a small point but illustrative of a bigger issue. I keep digging, hoping to unearth something that will convince me Florida State will pull the upset. To now, I haven’t unearthed it. Everything that looks like a golden nugget of information turns out to be pyrite, an illusion.