Calvin Ridley

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No. 1 Alabama rolls to 67th straight win over unranked foe in blowout of Colorado State

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Alabama’s game with Colorado State was all but over before the midpoint of the first quarter. The Tide accepted the ball to open the game and swiftly marched 75 yards in six snaps, grabbing a 7-0 lead on a 27-yard Jalen Hurts rush.

The Tide defense promptly forced a three-and-out, and a Colorado State punt pinned the Alabama offense at its own 5-yard line. It didn’t matter. Three Bo Scarborough runs gave the Tide some breathing room, and Hurts took care of the rest with a 78-yard bomb to Calvin Ridley, handing the Tide a 14-0 lead at the 8:56 mark of the first quarter.

Colorado State briefly made it interesting, pulling within 17-10 with 2:18 left in the first half. The Rams would not score again until the 9:53 mark of the fourth quarter, after Alabama had ripped off 24 straight points en route to a 41-24 win. It was the top-ranked Tide’s 67th straight victory over an unranked opponent.

Hurts closed the first half with a 52-yard catch-and-dash to Robert Foster, and ended his night completing 12-of-17 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 11 times for 103 yards and a score. Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris combined to carry 20 times for 93 yards and two more scores. The only intrigue in the second half came with the debut of freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who completed 1-of-4 passes for no gain.

For Colorado State, Nick Stephens hit 21-of-38 passes for 247 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing five times for 26 yards and a third score. He tacked on a 5-yard run and a touchdown pass, the second of the night to Warren Jackson, after the game was out of reach.

Alabama leading Colorado State at the half

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Alabama threatened to run away and hide, but Colorado State fought back to make the game competitive as the Crimson Tide holds a 24-10 lead at the break in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide seemed to put the game in blowout mode early by grabbing a 14-0 lead before the midpoint of the first quarter. Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and immediately moved 75 yards, the last 27 coming on a Jalen Hurts rush. After forcing a three-and-out, Alabama moved 95 yards in four plays, the final 78 coming on a bomb from Hurts to Calvin Ridley at the 8:56 mark of the first quarter.

But Colorado State stiffened, briefly, after that, forcing a 46-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal on Alabama’s next possession, then a missed 52-yard J.K. Scott field goal, and then a three-and-out.

As Alabama stopped scoring, Colorado State started. The Rams put together a 55-yard field goal drive to get on the board, then an 11-play, 86-yard march keyed by a 36-yard connection from Nick Stephens to Michael Gallup to get Colorado State out of the shadow of its own goalpost and a 4-yard toss to Warren Jackson to complete the drive.

Alabama responded, though, knifing 76 yards in five snaps. Hurts hit Robert Foster for a 52-yard slash-and-dash touchdown on 3rd-and-9 with a minute left before the half. The sophomore connected on 8-of-11 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns while leading all rushers with six carries for 64 yards and another score. Damien Harris and Bo Scarborough combined for 47 yards on 11 carries.

Stephens completed the half hitting 10-of-14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown while leading Colorado State with four carries for 21 yards.

Colorado State will receive to open the second half.

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

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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.

Alabama leading Florida State through one half in Atlanta

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Through one half in Atlanta, Florida State-Alabama is exactly the game we thought it would be: a track meet/boxing match combination where each team struggles to maintain offense against the other. A game where Alabama has been slightly better than Florida State, as the Tide holds a 10-7 advantage at the break.

Alabama opened the scoring with a 35-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal, but Florida State immediately responded with its best drive of the night, an 11-play, 90-yard march that ended on a 3-yard fade from Deondre Francois to Auden Tate, giving the Seminoles a 7-3 lead at the 13:41 mark of the second quarter.

Alabama rebounded with a long drive of its own, moving 85 yards in only five snaps, closing on a 53-yard rainbow from Jalen Hurts to Calvin Ridley.

Each team also had its share of missed opportunities. Florida State’s first possession ended on a turnover on downs at the Alabama 34 when Francois didn’t see a wide open receiver streaking down the middle of the field. Alabama’s first touch concluded with a 42-yard missed field goal.

Hurts has completed 7-of-12 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown with seven carries for 43 yards. Damien Harris leads all runners with 47 yards on five carries, though 34 came on one rush — the first play of the game. Alabama’s final three possessions after the touchdown drive all ended in 3-and-outs.

The ‘Noles had a chance to tie the game just before the half, but Ricky Aguayo‘s 37-yard field goal try was blocked. Jimbo Fisher and company will have a gripe after the game, as Alabama got away with what appeared to be a textbook pass interference penalty on Alabama’s Tony Brown inside the Tide end zone that went uncalled. Francois has completed 14-of-22 passes for 161 yards and a score, but FSU has mustered only 24 yards on 13 carries.

Florida State will receive to open the second half.

Alabama voted by media as favorite to win SEC

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I didn’t see this one coming.  Talk about being blindsided.

One day after putting the wraps on its annual media days shindig, the SEC released the media’s picks for conference champion and predicted order of finish.  And, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Alabama Crimson Tide, playoff participants in each of the first three years of the new system to determine a national champion, is the overwhelming favorite to claim yet another league championship.

‘Bama earned 217 points from the media when polled as to this year’s conference champ.  Next closest?  Auburn with 11, followed by Georgia’s six points and three each for Florida and LSU.  Showing that the media has a sense of humor and doesn’t take these preseason honors too seriously, even Vanderbilt was the recipient of a point.

Six times since 1992, the media has correctly picked the eventual champion in the preseason vote.  Two of those, though, came the last three years.

While ‘Bama was an overwhelming title choice, they weren’t a unanimous selection to win the West.  They did, however, reel in 225 first-place votes; Auburn (13), LSU (four) and Arkansas (one) were the only others to do so.

In the East Division, Georgia’s 138 first-place votes topped Florida’s 96.  South Carolina with five and Tennessee with three were the others to garner first-place votes in that division.

In addition to the predicted order of finish, the conference also released its Preseason Media Days All-SEC Teams. Alabama had the most first-team All-SEC selections with 10, which is a new record for this particular preseason squad.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Calvin Ridley (Alabama) and Derrius Guice (LSU) received the most votes amongst individual players.