Alabama coach Nick Saban has never lost to one of his former assistant coaches and Florida State has never beaten a No. 1-ranked team when playing away from Tallahassee.

That’s all you need to know, isn’t it?

If not, there’s one more factor to consider: Nick Saban’s aversion to losing, period. But yes, some losses do hurt more than others.

Saban will never get over January’s stunning (although not surprising) upset by Clemson in the national championship game. Now here he is preparing his Crimson Tide to battle another ACC team in what should be an epic season-opening matchup against 2017 title contender Florida State at 7 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta.

The showdown between the No. 1 Crimson Tide and the No. 3 Seminoles is set for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Saban’s confidence in his players, his program, his assistants and his offensive and defensive schemes has always been supreme.  But he did say recently that of all of his former assistants who have gone on to become head coaches, FSU’s Jimbo Fisher – who was Saban’s offensive coordinator when he was coaching at LSU – may be the most like him in his approach to the game.

But that’s just another reason that the Crimson Tide will be ready to play like champions again. He’s not about to let Alabama lose back-to-back games to ACC opponents.

I’m confident Fisher won’t be the one to blemish Saban’s record against his former assistants (10-0 since 2007) even if Nick the Great himself suggested a couple months ago that FSU might be the best team entering the season,

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Florida State vs. Alabama, Saturday, 7 p.m. Central, ABC

N.C. State vs. South Carolina, Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN

Michigan vs. Florida, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Brigham Young vs. LSU, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Texas A&M at UCLA, Sunday, 6:30 p.m., Fox

Tennessee at Georgia Tech, Monday, 7 p.m., ESPN

FAB FIVE

  1. Alabama: A tough opener facing FSU, but Nick Saban will have his Crimson Tide ready for the test.
  2. Auburn: This probably will be the Year of the War Eagle, and I could have been there to see it all. Enough said.
  3. Georgia: Bulldogs will be best of SEC East, not that that will mean much.
  4. LSU: November road trip to Alabama will make difference for Tigers, one way or the other.
  5. Florida: With a new quarterback, these Gators should be able to get off the ground.

THE PACK

6. Tennessee: Loss of record-setting QB Josh Dobbs will make life more difficult for Vols.

7. South Carolina: OK, I’m a proud grad, so I at least expect the Gamecocks to be wearing their bowling shoes again this season.

8. Arkansas: Bret Bielema needs to have a breakthrough season with Razorbacks or suffer the consequences.

9. Kentucky: Wildcats will be fortunate to win more than six games this season.

10. Mississippi State: Defense will have to be much improved for the Rebels to make any noise.

11. Texas A&M: After 6-0 start last season, Aggies lost 5 of 7.

THE UNPROVEN

12. Vanderbilt: The trend of too many tough losses will continue for the Commodores this season.

13. Missouri: Tigers allowed 480 yards and more than 31 points per game in 2016.

14. Mississippi: An offseason of turmoil, a bowl ban and the late dismissal of Hugh Freeze? Enough said.

BEARD’S PICKS

(All times Central; projected winners in bold caps)

Florida A&M at ARKANSAS, Thursday, 7 p.m., SEC Network

Missouri State at MISSOURI, Saturday, 11 a.m., SEC Network

N.C. State vs. SOUTH CAROLINA, Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN

MICHIGAN vs. Florida, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC

KENTUCKY at Southern Mississippi, Saturday, 3 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Charleston Southern at MISSISSIPPI STATE, Saturday, 3 p.m., SEC Network

Appalachian State at GEORGIA, Saturday, 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Georgia Southern at AUBURN, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network

SOUTH ALABAMA at Mississippi, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.,  ESPNU

Florida State vs. ALABAMA, Saturday, 7 p.m., ABC

VANDERBILT at Middle Tennessee State, Saturday, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Brigham Young vs. LSU, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Texas A&M at UCLA, Sunday, 6:30 p.m., Fox

TENNESSEE at Georgia Tech, Monday, 7 p.m., ESPN

 

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