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No. 1 Alabama overwhelms No. 3 Florida State to win biggest opener ever


It’s insanely difficult to get it done, but a blueprint to beat Alabama exists. You have to score. A lot. If you score and keep scoring, eventually the Tide will buckle. No matter how good your defense is, you have to score and keep scoring.

Florida State’s defense was quite good on Saturday night, but it wasn’t near enough to beat Alabama as the top-ranked Crimson Tide handled the 3rd-ranked Seminoles 24-7 in the biggest opening game in college football history.

The final score matches that of the last time Alabama played in Atlanta, a 24-7 win over Washington in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Peach Bowl. And like that game on New Year’s Eve, the Seminoles actually reached the end zone first.

After Alabama opened the scoring with a 35-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal, Florida State strung together by far its best drive of the night, moving 90 yards in 11 plays capped by a 3-yard fade from Deondre Francois to Auden Tate to give the Seminoles a 7-3 lead at the 13:41 mark of the second quarter.

But Alabama immediately answered with its own best drive of the night, an 85-yard blitzkrieg in five plays that ended on a 53-yard rainbow from Jalen Hurts to Calvin Ridley to put Alabama on top at 10-7. That score would hold through the end of the first half, through what would prove to be the pivotal moment of the night, when Francois fired into the end zone to Nyqwan Murray and Tony Brown got away with a clear pass interference.

Florida State was forced to settle for a field goal try, which was blocked.

After a punt to open the second half, Florida State entered a stretch when its offense and special teams quite literally could not hold onto the ball. First, running back Damien Harris blocked a Florida State punt, which turned into an Alabama field goal. The ‘Noles fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Harris again capitalized by racing in for an 11-yard touchdown dash. A 2-point pass from Hurts to Ridley staked Alabama to a 21-7 lead with 1:41 to play in the third quarter.

Needing two scores to tie the game, the Florida State offense took its turn unraveling. Alabama intercepted two consecutive Francois passes, threatening the Florida State offense to the point where the ‘Noles next two possessions — two three-and-outs, two yards gained combined — felt like small accomplishments simply by getting the punt team on the field. Francois was sacked by Ronnie Harrison and came down holding his left knee; he had to be helped from the field and did not return.

Francois finished the night hitting 19-of-33 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while the Seminoles scratched out only 25 yards on 24 credited carries.

Alabama posted modest numbers offensively: 96 passing yards, 173 on the ground on 42 carries. But when the defense and special teams are as predictably and unflinchingly dominant as they were, 24 points by Alabama feels like 50 by anyone else.

The win pushed Alabama (1-0) to 14-1 in Atlanta, 8-0 in neutral site openers and 11-0 against former Nick Saban assistants. Florida State (0-1) will look to become the first team since Miami in 1983 to win a national championship after losing its opener.

Syracuse football QB Rex Culpepper posts that he has cancer but is expected to return after treatment

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Tough news out of Western New York and it has nothing to do with basketball.

Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper posted on Instagram Friday that cancer has spread to his abdomen following surgery but it is treatable and he is expected to return to the field after undergoing chemotherapy.

Culpepper did see action last season and completed 45 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore is once again expected to back up Eric Dungey once he returns to the team.

It goes without saying that the entire college football community is wishing the Orange signal-caller the best of luck and look forward to seeing him back out at the Carrier Dome next season.

Report: Alabama working on scheduling home-and-home with Notre Dame

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Two of the most successful programs in all of college football may be set to renew their rivalry on the gridiron.

In a tidbit that can make every fan of the sport giddy with excitement, the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Alabama is negotiating with Notre Dame about a potential home-and-home series in football. Nick Saban‘s program is also apparently pursuing a home-and-home with another big name as well in a somewhat stark scheduling philosophy change from the school after years of big neutral site games at places like AT&T Stadium in Texas and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” Crimson Tide athletic director Greg Byrne told the paper.

That’s not exactly denying the story…

Of course the Tide and Irish have a lengthy history in the sport, famously playing back in the 1970’s during several key bowl games and most recently contesting the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against each other (which both sides probably can’t forget about in two very different ways). Amazingly, Alabama has only played two home-and-home series since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa and let’s just say that a trip to Duke isn’t exactly the same as going to South Bend.

As for the Irish, they’ve shown an increased appetite toward playing SEC teams in recent years. Notre Dame hosted Georgia last season and has also recently added Arkansas and Texas A&M to the docket in future years. Given how schedules are locked in so far in advance it seems doubtful we’ll be able to stage a rematch between Saban and Brian Kelly but, either way, these two programs getting together is a welcome bit of offseason news.

Georgia fires associate equipment manager after being charged for illegal eavesdropping

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A quiet offseason is a good offseason for college head coaches but that does not appear to be the case at Georgia for Kirby Smart.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s DawgNation site, the school has fired associate equipment manager Kevin Purvis after he was arrested and charged on Friday night for four felonies (three of which were for “illegal eavesdropping or surveillance”) and a misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

“As soon as it learned of the incident, the Athletic Association notified the University of Georgia Police Department, who began their investigation,” a statement from the program to the AJC said. “The University took immediate action, and the employee was terminated early in the investigation. Based on the findings of the police investigation, no student-athletes were victims in this incident.”

Purvis had worked for the program since 2006. The paper later said that he was “accused of using a hidden camera to capture images of at least one individual showering in the Bulldogs locker room” and was being held on a $8,500 bond. The incident that led to an investigation apparently happened in late February, with the arrest being executed by police on Friday night.

Needless to say, this is not the kind of headline that the Bulldogs would like to see just as spring practice gets going.

Nebraska, UCLA among teams interested in Arizona grad transfer QB Brandon Dawkins

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One thing’s for certain: Brandon Dawkins won’t be lacking suitors, including Power Five ones, in his quest to find a new college football home.

According to Adam Rittenberg of, Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Nebraska and UCLA have all expressed interest in the quarterback. Rittenberg adds that Dawkins has plans to visit the campuses of FAU and IU in the coming weeks.

On Twitter late last month, Dawkins announced that he would be transferring from Arizona.

Dawkins is set to graduate from UA this coming May, which will make him eligible to play immediately in 2018 at wherever he lands. The upcoming season will serve as Dawkins’ final year of eligibility at the collegiate level.

Dawkins started nine games in 2016 and the first four games this past season before the force of nature known as Khalil Tate took over. All told, he played in 23 games during his four seasons in the desert. The 13 starts previously mentioned were the only ones of his UA career.

For the Wildcats portion of his playing career, Dawkins completed just over 56 percent of his 334 passes for 2,418 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He ran for another 1,582 yards and 20 more touchdowns.