The No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide face their toughest test of the season when they play host to the unranked but rising Florida Gators Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The two storied powerhouses haven’t met since 2011, when Alabama rolled into Gainesville and tamed the Gators 38-10 en route to the national title.
Both schools presently own undefeated records, but the Tide have largely manhandled the competition in their first three games while Florida needed three overtimes to best Kentucky last week.
Led by fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Sims, Alabama avoided an early scare from West Virginia in its season opener, and proceeded to shutout Florida Atlantic 41-0 and hold Southern Miss to four field goals for a 52-12 blasting last week.
Sims has fought off junior Jake Coker for the starting spot, coming through with 646 passing yards and four touchdowns to one interception. His first career start was against the Mountaineers.
Of course, having junior and preseason All-American receiver Amari Cooper on the other end of your passes and two dynamic running backs behind you certainly helps. Cooper’s first in the SEC with 454 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry have totaled 434 yards and three touchdowns out of the backfield.
The Gators outlasted Kentucky 36-30 behind 156 rushing yards from running back Matt Jones, and 295 yards and three touchdown passes by quarterback Jeff Driskel. Sophomore receiver Demarcus Robinson was also sensational, totaling 15 receptions for 216 yards and two scores, and he now ranks third in the SEC in receiving.
It was Florida’s 28th consecutive win over Kentucky, but by a far closer margin then expected, considering the Gator defense also forced three Wildcat turnovers. It was a far cry from the 65-0 demolition served to Eastern Michigan, when Florida generated five turnovers and gave up only 125 total offensive yards.
Forcing the Tide to make as many mistakes seems unlikely, but the Gators do have the talent in the secondary to disrupt Cooper and Sims. Sophomore defensive back Keanu Neal leads the team with two interceptions, and Vernon Hargreaves has broken up five passes already.
Alabama also has ways to limit Driskel at the line scrimmage, namely linebackers Xzavier Dickson and Ryan Anderson, who have each totaled 2.0 sacks.
Start Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
TV Channel: CBS
Live Online Stream: A live online stream is available at CBS Sports here.
Betting Odds: Alabama -14.5
Over/Under: 50.5 points
Prediction: Alabama 30, Florida 20