Florida vs Alabama -3.5
Florida vs Alabama -3.5
This is a huge match between two unbeaten SEC rivals who have come to know each other very well in recent seasons.
The Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0) come into the Swamp having started 1-0 in Conference play, but face a tough test against the Florida Gators (4-0) who are perhaps surprising one or two 'experts' and are 2-0 in the SEC.
What will make this game even more interesting is that both teams are built on similar philosophies, with a strong rushing Offense supposed to put up enough points that a suffocating Defense will protect.
At the start of the season, Alabama were expected to rely heavily on a rushing attack as there were some real questions to be answered about their QB and the first 4 weeks of the season would not have surprised many.
The Crimson Tide are averaging 230 yards per game on the ground and already have 12 rushing TDs.
That has given AJ McCarron a chance to settle into the Offense as the starting QB and he has done an effective job by throwing for 4 TDs and 2 Interceptions so far.
It will be interesting to see how Alabama attack this Florida Defense that has only allowed 9 points per game through the first 4 weeks of the season and have allowed just 231 total yards.
The Gators Defense has allowed just 56 yards per game on the ground, but will be tested heavily by Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, although the Gators have made sure they are ready to 'defend the run before they defend the pass'.
On the flip side, Florida have averaged 40 points per game this season, and gained an average of 461 total yards of Offense and they will rely heavily on Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps as they have for much of the season.
Rainey has 625 yards of total Offense on his own, leading the team in both rushing and receiving categories, and he has 4 TDs on the season.
John Brantley, the QB, has very much the same kind of role as McCarron at Alabama in that he is supposed to be as efficient as possible as his rushing attack gives him short yardage to cover through the air. Brantley, like McCarron, has 4 TD passes and 2 Interceptions this season.
Once again though, much like Alabama will face, the Gators face an incredibly tough Defense that is capable of shutting any team down.
They have allowed just 8 points per game and 184 yards of total Offense through the first 4 weeks of the season and come into this game having throttled Arkansas in Tuscaloosa last week.
The Defensive unit has also only allowed an average of 46 yards per game on the ground, but they have been just as good when teams try to throw on them as they have allowed opponents to complete just under 44% of their passing attempts.
Jeremy Brown (CB) was the starter for Florida last season, but he is listed as questionable for this game having not played so far.
Jordan Reed (TE) has missed the last 2 weeks of the season and is unlikely to suit up on Saturday.
Danny Woodson Jr (WR) has been cleared to play for Alabama and will be hoping to get the call this week.
The Crimson Tide could have a problem with the linebacker corps for this game as CJ Mosley is listed as questionable having left the Arkansas game in the 1st Quarter last week.
I like Alabama to win this game and cover the spread for the following reasons:
First, Florida are still learning a new system, one that Alabama have been using for some time and so if anyone can find a way through it, it will be the Crimson Tide.
Second, the Crimson Side are, in my opinion, stronger on both sides of the ball and I feel their Defense is a little more opportunistic and will create more turnovers than their Florida counterparts.
Third, Alabama have suffocated the Florida Offense the last two times they have played, albeit at home rather than on the road.
My biggest concern is whether the Crimson Tide are emotionally a little flat after hammering Arkansas last week, but I think the prospect of playing in the National Championship game will focus their minds to come through this tough test.
I'll back Alabama - 3.5 Points