For openers, Florida and FSU will play against strong opponents

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One of the more intriguing college football openers ever faces the Sunshine state in the fall.

FSU plays perennial power Alabama in Atlanta on Sept. 2, while Florida plays against the Michigan Wolverines the same day in Arlington, Texas. That means a couple of teams are going to be 0-1 going into the heavy part of their schedule.

Yeah, it’s always football season in Florida, isn’t it? And while some fans are talking about FSU’s spring game returning to Doak Campbell (3 p.m., April 8) and Florida playing its first spring game at night (April 8), it’s the regular season that excites both sets of fans.

Last year, Alabama was second in the AP poll, while Michigan finished 10th.

This year, FSU will again be led by quarterback Deondre Francois. Florida will rely on running back Jordan Scarlett.

Other teams in the state have more reasonable contests going into the schedule. Miami plays Bethune-Cookman, USF plays at San Jose State, UCF plays FIU and FAU plays Navy.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.