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No. 4 Florida State goes on 33-0 run to take down No. 11 Ole Miss

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Orlando, Florida may be home to the happiest place on Earth, but No. 11 Ole Miss (0-1) is leaving town with nothing but disappointment. The Rebels blew a 22-point lead against No. 4 Florida State (1-0) in the Camping World Kickoff in Orlando. The Seminoles ripped off 33 straight points on their way to a 45-34 victory. It was the largest come-form-behind victory in Florida State history.

Freshman quarterback Deondre Francois went through some growing pains in his first start for Florida State at quarterback, but gained some confidence in leading a late touchdown drive in the first half and came out looking like a brand new player in the second. Francois passed for 420 yards and two touchdowns without an interception or a fumble (one fumble by Francois was overruled upon video review). He looked like a freshman starting his first game in the first half, because he was a freshman starting his first game in the first half. And he was going up against a solid Ole Miss defense, which crumbled in the second half as Florida State gobbled up a decisive edge in the time of possession department.

Ole Miss did have success running an up-tempo offense against Florida State early on, which played a part in building a 28-6 lead in the first half, but the wear and tear on the defense showed in the second half as Florida State looked like the fresher of the two teams. The Rebels saw Chad Kelly look confident and living up to the hype of being the best quarterback in the SEC with three touchdowns in the first half, but he also cooled off in the second half and was picked off three times in the game, the last coming with under three minutes remaining in the game to essentially put to rest any hope of a win for Ole Miss.

THREE QUICK THOUGHTS

1. You cannot turn the ball over against Florida State and expect to win. Ole Miss did so three times, with a trio of interceptions thrown by Kelly among them. Florida State is not going to dig holes too often this season the way they did Monday night, and there are only a small handful of offenses that will be able to hang with Florida State and have the potential to overcome a deficit in the turnover margin (Clemson, Louisville… Miami?).

2. One observation to take from Sunday night’s Texas-Notre Dame game is the Longhorns could be turning a corner but must still learn how to finish a game. Texas had a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter before seeing Notre Dame battle back and eventually get the game to overtime. Texas escaped with the win, but it was a lesson that could be learned in Austin. The same experience must be earned in Oxford. Ole Miss was in command of the game shortly before halftime, when Florida State scored a late touchdown to gain some momentum at the break. The Seminoles then went on a tear with a 24-0 run in the third quarter and a 33-0 run overall before the Rebels got back on the board, going from up 28-6 to down 39-34. Perhaps this can be an assessment of the coaching. Jimbo Fisher held a decisive edge while Hugh Freeze will have some questions that need answers.

3. Dalvin Cook turned in a fine effort, even if he did have the bonehead play of the game. Cook was mere yards away from reaching the end zone in the second quarter on a pass play but for some reason switched the position of the ball in his hands before he crossed the goal line, uncontested. The ball dribbled loose out of bounds and instead of a touchdown, Florida State was reduced to settling for a field goal. All was forgiven later, as Cook ended his night with 192 all-purpose yards, including 101 receiving yards.

Florida State opens its home schedule next week against Charleston Southern. The Buccaneers gave North Dakota State a solid test in the FCS opener two weekends ago and demolished Kentucky State at home this past weekend. As good as they may be in the FCS ranks (and they are really good), Florida State should manage to avoid any real threat of a massive upset in Tallahassee. Ole Miss also gets an FCS opponent next weekend at home when they host Wofford. Wofford opened its season with a 21-7 road victory at Tennessee Tech on Thursday night. After getting by Wofford, Ole Miss has two pivotal game sin SEC play at home against Alabama and Georgia. Then comes a revenge game against Memphis. Memphis upset the Rebels last season.

Jim McElwain says Florida is heading to Texas to “beat the heck out of Michigan”

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It goes without saying that coaches will say what coaches say. Suggesting their team is on a mission to score a big win in front of fans clad in the school colors should not be taken for anything more than simply aiming to get a rise out of the fans. Mission accomplished for Florida head coach Jim McElwain, but possible bulletin board material for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Speaking before Florida students over the weekend, McElwain laid it out there by saying his Gators were looking to do one thing against Michigan; win with authority.

“We’re heading to Dallas here in a couple weeks to go beat the heck out of Michigan, and then come back to you guys,” McElwain said, according to SEC Country.

The Gators are opening the college football season next week in Arlington, Texas against the Michigan Wolverines of the Big Ten. Florida will be a bit undermanned with the recent suspension of seven players, including star wide receiver Antonio Callaway. Michigan also won the most recent meeting between the two schools, with Harbaugh’s Wolverines dominating McElwain’s Gators in the Citrus Bowl two seasons ago (41-7).

Michigan will be looking to reestablish its identity with a good amount of roster turnover this season, but the depth hit from the recent suspensions in Gainesville may help give Michigan an edge. Either way, we can only look forward to seeing how Harbaugh potentially responds once this claim from McElwain makes its way to Ann Arbor.

Roll Tide! Alabama tops preseason AP Top 25; OSU, FSU, USC receive first-place votes

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For the fourth time under head coach Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide will begin a college football season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25.

The defending SEC champions received 52 first-place votes from the AP voters, easily pulling away from No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Florida State. Both the Buckeyes and Seminoles received first-place votes, as did No. 4 USC. But none of those schools received more than four first-place votes from the voters. Alabama and Florida State meet in Week 1 next week in Atlanta.

Defending national champion Clemson was left without a first-place vote, but still starts the year highly-ranked at No. 5. They are followed by Penn State, fresh off a Big Ten championship from last season. Defending Pac-12 champion and College Football Playoff participant Washington starts the year at No. 8, one spot behind the defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners with a first-year head coach in Lincoln Riley. Oklahoma travels to Columbus, Ohio to play Ohio State in Week 2. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State round out the top 10 in the preseason AP poll.

The lone Group of Five team in the preseason top 25 is USF, with new head coach Charlie Strong taking over the Bulls. Strong’s new team is ranked No. 19, a few spot s ahead of his old program, the No. 23 Texas Longhorns (now coached by Tom Herman).

The SEC leads the country with six teams appearing in the preseason AP Top 25, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with five ranked teams each. The Big Ten and Pac-12 each have four schools represented. No independent teams appear in the preseason top 25.

And here is the full AP Top 25 preseason poll, with first-place votes noted);

  1. Alabama (52 first-place votes)
  2. Ohio State (3)
  3. Florida State (4)
  4. USC (2)
  5. Clemson
  6. Penn State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Washington
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Oklahoma State
  11. Michigan
  12. Auburn
  13. LSU
  14. Stanford
  15. Georgia
  16. Louisville
  17. Florida
  18. Miami FL
  19. USF
  20. Kansas State
  21. Virginia Tech
  22. West Virginia
  23. Texas
  24. Washington State
  25. Tennessee

Tennessee WR Josh Smith to miss start of season with broken collarbone

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Tennessee will be without wide receiver Josh Smith at the start of the season, including the season opener in Atlanta against Georgia Tech next week. Smith will be out of action for the next four to eight weeks with a broken collarbone.

This is the latest injury setback for MSith, who has had ankle surgery in the past as well as a groin injury in January. After catching 13 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown last season, MSith was expected to be a larger contributor to the offense this season as a slot receiver. That may eventually to prove true, but just how soon he can get back on the practice field, let alone a game field, remains to be seen.

At the minimum four weeks, Smith would likely not be returning to the field until a Week 3 matchup with UMass in Knoxville or the Week 4 SEC East battle with Georgia, also in Neyland Stadium. Tennessee has a bye week after the Georgia game to allow for an extra week of rest and recovery if needed. If Smith is out for a full eight weeks, his first game back for the Vols could potentially be the October 21 game at Alabama.

Smith also returned six punts last season for a total of 35 yards.

CFT 2017 Preseason Previews: Playoff Predictions

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Fair warning: CFT’s 2017 College Football Playoff predictions are boring

But, sometimes, reality is boring.

Alabama and Ohio State have pulled ahead of the pack in recruiting, return a number of players — or, at least, a large enough number to outflank the competition — and are still coached by Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. As such, our staff is picking (with one outlier) those two to square off for the 2017 national championship, with different views on how the title game goes down.

Kevin
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Florida State
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Penn State
CFP National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Bryan
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Florida State
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over USC
CFP National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Zach
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Florida State
CFP National Championship: Alabama over Ohio State

John
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over USC
Sugar Bowl: Florida State over Alabama
CFP National Championship: Ohio State over Florida State