Nick Saban previews Florida State, updates Davis situation

Florida State defensive back Derwin James celebrates after an interception by defensive back Tarvarus Mc Fadden during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi in Orlando Fla. Safet

Alabama has been no stranger to the big stage and that won't change early on in 2017.

In another Week 1 matchup of two preseason Top 25 teams, Florida is sitting as a four-point underdog ahead of a neutral-site game against MI at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Saturday's game against Alabama in Atlanta marks the third time in the past four years that Florida State has opened against a Power 5 opponent at a neutral site.

Defenses started to figure out Hurts a little late last season and the sting remains from the loss in the title game.

Saturday's contest between two of the last four national champions will be among the most anticipated first-week games in history.

The Crimson Tide is 8-1 against the spread since 2008. In addition to center Bradley Bozeman, the strength should be the left side with tackle Jonah Williams and guard Ross Pierschbacher. And five starters are back from a defense that held foes to just 261.8 yards and 13.0 points per game last season.

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Alabama is losing its leaders in sacks, tackles and forced fumbles as Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson are all off to the National Football League, but there is no shortage of talent for the Crimson Tide on defense.

On defense, Alabama's front three will be Da'Shawn Hand, Da'Ron Payne and either Raekwon Davis or Joshua Frazier.

"He's still day-to-day, still rehabbing", Saban said. Christian Miller will start at Sam linebacker with Shaun Dion Hamilton at Mike, Rashaan Evans at Will and Anfernee Jennings at Jack. Alabama houses perhaps the deepest running backs rotation in the country. Both teams got to 10 wins in 2016. Senior cornerback Anthony Averett is also a good one.

Freshman Thomas Fletcher, the No. 1 rated long snapper in the 2017 class, was listed as a co-starter with walk-on Scott Meyer at the snapper position, while Joseph Bulovas, the top kicker in the 2017 class shares the starting spot at place kicker with walk-on Andy Pappanastos. Pappanastos made his only field goal attempt last season from 33 yards out.

"Of all the assistants who have gone on, Jimbo and I are probably as close as any in terms of philosophy and how we do things", Saban said.

Alabama, bidding for a ideal 15-0 season, lost 35-31 to Clemson on a last-second touchdown in the College Football Playoff title game last January after a 24-7 victory over Washington in a semifinal pairing at the Georgia Dome.

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