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Florida Gators @ Alabama Crimson Tide (-9)
Saturday, October 2nd
8:00 ET, Bryant Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
When Florida has the ball… Watch out for some trickeration out of the bag of tricks from HC Urban Meyer. We really haven't seen a lot this year from the Gators on offense, though they have dug deep with some fake punts. QB John Brantley doesn't have the mobility to be able to beat the Alabama pressure up front, so the offensive line is going to have to do an amazing job of holding their blocks to give Brantley time to step up and throw. This is one of the few matchups in which the speed of RB Jeff Demps might be matched. Getting Demps outside in space is going to be key, whether it is handing him the ball, throwing it to him, or just directly snapping it to him. Either way, the Bama 'D' is going to be keyed in on Florida's home run threat and will certainly be there to try to contain him from those patented 60 or 70 yard runs that can break a game open. The Gators didn't finally score their first point in the first quarter this year until last week, a span of three games. They still only rank 78th in the land in total offense at 354.5 yards per game, but those yards have been parlayed into 37.8 points per game. Bama has the top scoring defense in the land at 9.8 points per game and ranks in the Top 25 in both rush defense and total defense. Advantage: Alabama Crimson Tide
When Alabama has the ball… Florida's front seven is going to have to be watching out for the running abilities of both RB Trent Richardson and RB Mark Ingram. Both men ran wild last year on the Gators, combining for almost 200 total yards on the ground on a limited quantity of carries. The difference this year is that QB Greg McElroy isn't afraid to throw the ball. His passing attack ranks 28th in the country at 267.0 yards per game. All told, this offense is averaging 511.8 yards per game (sixth in the land) and 39.5 points per game (15th in the country). Don't take Florida lightly, though. This is still a defense which comes in having allowed between 12 and 17 points to all four of its foes this year, including going against a mobile quarterback in QB BJ Daniels, and a Tennessee Volunteers squad that was full of gusto at home two weeks ago. A number of different players from last year's 'D' are now gone, but this isn't a team that rebuilds. It reloads. Don't kid yourself. This is a test of the likes that the Crimson Tide haven't seen this year. Advantage: Florida Gators
Intangibles…. We already mentioned that the Gators are going to have to dig deep into their bag of tricks to be able to win this game. Don't be shocked to see QB/WR/FB Trey Burton used quite a bit, as he can do just about anything Meyer needs him to do. Fake punts, reverses, flea flickers… you name it, Florida will probably use it. The question is whether the Tide can really stay disciplined or not. Last week was also the first time that the Gators didn't have a single snap botched up before a play ever got started. There will be a lot of pressure on C Mike Pouncey to get the ball back to Brantley cleanly, or this game is going to get out of hand in a hurry. If he does, this is going to be a real edge for UF. Meyer isn't afraid to pull out all the stops, and we aren't so sure that he hasn't tipped his game plan even once this year. We probably know that HC Nick Saban isn't pulling any punches. Advantage: Florida Gators
The Final Report Card… These two teams are very familiar with each other and should be ready for this game. We know that the Tide are battle tested having taken on the Penn State Nittany Lions at home and the Arkansas Razorbacks on the road. This is the same type of test against a Florida team that has only had one game of even marginal difficulty this year, the win in Rocky Top. We already know that the Crimson Tide are getting an A+ for preparation for this game at 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS. Florida has been sloppy, and though we tend to believe that there is more to see from the Gators, we have no choice but to only give them a B- for their preparation for this one. Don't be shocked if all of that new stuff comes back and bites UF in the butt, as this is a team that doesn't look quite prepared as of yet to face a challenge like this, especially if the game plan changes completely from what the Gators have done in games past.