Top-ranked Alabama won a season-opening showdown and now looks to get sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts untracked when it hosts Fresno State on Saturday. Hurts passed for 96 yards and was limited to 55 on the ground as the Crimson Tide recorded a 24-7 win over then-No. 3 Florida State.
Hurts was spotty in the opener while going 10-of-18 passing and coach Nick Saban said he saw a mix of good and bad things. “Look, it was the first game,” Saban told reporters. “I‘m not here to protect the player. He’d tell you there were things he could do better.” Saban referred to first-year Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford (formerly California’s head man) as “a really good offensive coach” but the Bulldogs will be hard-pressed to compete with the Crimson Tide. Tedford inherited a 1-11 squad and showed no mercy in the opener while rolling up 613 yards in a 66-0 drubbing of FCS program Incarnate Word.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Alabama -43.5
ABOUT FRESNO STATE (1-0): Sophomore quarterback Chason Vigil passed for 246 yards and one touchdown in his first game in the Tedford system as the Bulldogs posted their highest-scoring output since the Derek Carr-led team put up 69 against New Mexico in 2013. Junior wideout KeeSean Johnson caught seven passes for 120 yards for his second career 100-yard outing as he looks to build off last season’s 66-catch campaign. Junior defensive end Emeka Ndoh had a fierce showing in the opener with two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
ABOUT ALABAMA (1-0): The Crimson Tide lost junior outside linebacker Christian Miller (biceps) and sophomore outside linebacker Terrell Lewis (elbow) for the season during the victory over Florida State, while sophomore outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings underwent ankle surgery and senior outside linebacker Rashaan Evans (groin) also will likely sit out. Junior Keith Holcombe will fill one of the outside spots while senior middle linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton is coming off a huge game in which he posted eight tackles, including a career-best 3.5 for loss. Senior wideout Calvin Ridley had seven receptions for 82 yards against the Seminoles and caught his 15th career touchdown pass, tied for fifth in Crimson Tide history.
1. Alabama has never faced Fresno State but the Crimson Tide are 6-1 against current members of the Mountain West.
2. The Bulldogs are 0-7 against current SEC programs, and lost 73-21 to Ole Miss in 2015 in the most-recent meeting.
3. Crimson Tide junior RB Damien Harris, who had four 100-yard outings last season, rushed for 73 yards with an impressive 8.1 average in the opener.
PREDICTION: Alabama 51, Fresno State 14