Florida Gators (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0 SU, 0-2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date and Time: Saturday, September 20th, 2014. 3:30PM EST
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuscaloosa, A.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UF +14.5/ALA -14.5
Over/Under Total: 50.5
The no. 3 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida Gators will collide this Saturday inside Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. After a scrappy win in the opener against West Virginia, the Crimson Tide has posted a pair of wins over inferior opponents in recent weeks and will make their SEC debut this Saturday against the visiting Gators. Florida was nearly caught off guard last week by Kentucky but survived a triple overtime thriller to pull out a victory in the Swamp. The victory set the stage for a big showdown this Saturday among unbeatens and two of the SECs most successful programs.
Last year Floridas football program hit rock bottom as the team lost 7 straight games to end the season and failed to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1990. This year Will Muschamp attempts to rebound and build Florida back into an SEC power. Obviously last weeks scare against Kentucky proved that the Gators have a big ladder to climb. However, this Saturdays meeting with Alabama still presents the opportunity for the Gators to make a leap up the ladder with a big upset victory over Alabama which would potentially restore their relevance in the SEC.
The Gators will enter this Saturdays matchup with Alabama as 14.5 point underdogs in their first road trip of the season. Alabama enters the week with a rather disappointing 0-2-1 mark ATS through their first 3 games. As noted previously, Alabama had their hands full with West Virginia in the opener before pulling out a 33-23 victory. The Crimson Tide handled business in their last two games against the likes of Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss in lopsided affairs. However, questions still remain in Tuscaloosa. Is the Alabama defense as good as projected? Can quarterback Blake Sims lead this team towards a National Championship run?
To answers those questions to the best of my ability, Alabama is going to be just fine. The defense never had many problems. They held a very good West Virginia offense to 23 points in their first contest of the season and for all the talk surrounding the quarterback situation; Blake Sims is completing a smooth 75% of his passes for 646 yards with 4 scores and just 1 pick. Defensively, the Crimson Tide should keep getting better. Offensively, they are loaded with threats. WR Amari Cooper is on his way to an All-American type season with 33 catches for 454 yards and 2 scores through the first 3 games. As always Alabama has one of the best running back stables in the country again with TJ. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, and Kenyan Drake. All 3 running backs are averaging over 5 yards per touch which has lightened the workload for T.J Yeldon and are giving Alabama plenty of firepower out of the backfield.
Fortunately for Florida fans, the Gators catch Alabama early in the season in a situation where they could easily surprise people. The Gators near loss to Kentucky last week may increase the expectations for Alabama to win this game going away. In fact if you go by recent trends, Alabama has covered 7 of their last 8 games against Florida. However, I believe most people are not appreciating what Mark Stoops has done in little time at Kentucky. I picked Kentucky to cover last week against Florida and it did not surprise me one bit to see the Wildcats almost pull out the upset. Kentucky is a team that is going to surprise some people this year and Florida is going to be a better team due to that close victory last week.
This Saturday I expect Florida to bounce back and give a similar nagging effort to Alabama just as Kentucky did last week to Florida, perhaps not close enough for 3 overtimes but hey… The Gators defense is stout and they have weapons on offense to make this game interesting if they can capitalize down the field. Last week WR Demarcus Robinson tied a school record with 15 catches resulting in 216 yards and two touchdowns. If QB Jeff Driskel can continue to find receivers in the passing game and help keep the chains moving, Florida will have the opportunity to keep this one closer than most expect.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Florida +14.5