The Crimson Tide’s season opener is set for Saturday Sept. 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Here’s the info you need for the game:
Kickoff Time: 8 p.m. (Eastern Time), 7 p.m. (Central Time)
TV: ABC (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor and Tom Rinaldi)
Radio: 102.9 FM
Line: Alabama by 7.5
Parking: Mercedez-Benz Stadium parking lots open at 7 a.m. (Eastern Time) on Saturday morning.
All times for events in Atlanta are Eastern Time.
6:30-9:30 p.m. (ET) — Bama in Atlanta Kick Off Party
The Kickoff party will take place at Hudson Grille Midtown and will cost $10 for members, $15 for guests. Big Al and the cheerleaders will be present. The address for Hudson Grille Midtown is 942 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309.
4 p.m.-7 p.m. — Tailgating With the Tide
The official “Tailgating with the Tide” event from the University of Alabama alumni association will be at Hudson Grille Downtown (120 Marietta Street NorthWest Atlanta, GA 30303). Tickets are $40 and include a buffet, TVs to view other games and free shakers.
3 p.m.-8 p.m. — Tides of Change Charity Tailgate
The Tides of Change Charity Tailgate will benefit multiple children’s organizations across the Atlanta area as well as victims of Hurricane Harvey. General admission tickets are $40 (subject to change) and VIP tickets are $80. General admission tickets include food, drinks (including alcoholic beverages), and live music by Trotline. VIP tickets will give you access to a private bar, tent area, seating and a projector to view other games.
Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game Schedule (Eastern Time):
9 a.m. — ESPN College Gameday
Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Rece Davis and company will be broadcasting from the International Plaza outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium from 9 a.m. to noon ET.
Noon — Tailgate Town Built by Home Depot
Tailgate Town is a free tailgate at the International Plaza across from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It will include games, food samplings, fan giveaways, and a place to watch the other college football games.
3 p.m. – 7 p.m. — Fanzone presented by Coca-Cola
The Fanzone will be at the Georgia World Congress Center, Building C, Halls C1 and C2. It is free with a game ticket, or tickets are available to purchase at the door. It will include the official team pep rallies, food and drinks, interactive football games, sponsor areas with prizes, giveaways and contests on the main stage.
6 p.m. — Gates to Mercedes-Benz Stadium Open
Players to watch
Key Stat: Hurts threw for 2780 yards and 23 touchdowns while completing 63 percent of his passes last season.
Jalen Hurts won’t have to worry whether he’ll be the starter in game one this season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have anything to prove. After relying on his legs to make plays as a freshman, the sophomore quarterback should be eager to show how he has progressed as a passer. The spring game was a taste of what he can do in the vertical passing game, but NFL prospect Derwin James and the rest of Florida State’s secondary will be a tough first test.
Shaun Dion Hamilton
Key Stat: Hamilton had 64 total tackles and two sacks last season.
Hamilton will test his knee for the first time since an ACL injury ended his season in the SEC Championship. His 64 tackles last season ranked third on the team at the time of his injury, and with Reuben Foster now in the NFL, Hamilton should see an increase in that department. The mobility of Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois means Hamilton will need to make sound tackles when they play breaks down and the Seminole quarterback scrambles.
Key Stat: Ridley had 72 catches for 769 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Ridley saw his receiving yards decline last season compared to his 1,045 yards from 2015, but he still found the end zone. The junior is Alabama’s best playmaker in space, but can also blow the top off a defense for a big play. The Crimson Tide will need a strong performance from him against Florida State, who is notorious for having some of the best defensive backs in the country. Ridley had 21 plays of 15 yards or more last season, which makes him the leading candidate to break off a long play against the Seminoles.
Key Stat: Francois threw for 419 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the the Seminoles’ opener last season against Ole Miss.
If Jalen Hurts was arguably the most impressive freshman quarterback last season, Seminole quarterback Deondre Francois was not far behind. Francois threw for 3350 yards in 2016 — 570 more yards than Hurts — and 20 touchdowns on his way to becoming the 2016 ACC Freshman of the Year. The redshirt sophomore can also run, so it will be important for Crimson Tide linebackers to keep an eye on him when the pocket collapses.
Key Stat: James had 91 total tackles and 52 solo tackles as a freshman.
He’s NFL.com’s No.1 defensive back in college football this season and was rated the No. 1 player in college football at any position by ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Need proof? Well, that’s hard to come by because the redshirt sophomore hasn’t played in a game since September of 2016 due to a knee injury. Trust Jimbo Fisher, James is a generational talent with the ability to play almost every position on defense.
Key Stat: Led all freshmen nationally with 9.5 sacks in 2016.
The film of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson demoralizing the Florida State defense last season shows exactly how important the Seminoles’ linebackers and ends are to stopping a running quarterback. If they let Jalen Hurts loose like they did with Jackson, that spells trouble. However, Florida State returns both outside rushers and should have more depth at that position this season.