NCAAF · Fri (12/16) @ 11:35am ET
|Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL|
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It is often hard to tell how good ranked teams are at the beginning of the college football season since most play relatively soft schedules for the first few weeks. But fans will get a chance to see just how good two of the best teams in the nation are when No. 1 Alabama travels to Gainesville to take on the No. 11 Florida Gators.
Both teams entered the season with high expectations, and both will enter the game with undefeated records (2-0). Such circumstances would generally mean fans will get treated to a close game. But according to the oddsmakers, this one should not be close at all.
Will this game be just another notch on Alabama’s metaphorical belt? Or can the Gators pull off an epic upset in front of a home crowd and end a seven-game losing streak to the Tide?
Alabama Crimson Tide
There is an old quote that talks about nothing being certain except for death and taxes. It may be time to revise that quote to include Alabama football. No matter how much talent the Crimson Tide loses to the NFL Draft and graduation, they always seem to reload every year—and this year is no different.
The offensive needed quite a few new parts coming into the 2021 season, i.e., quarterback, wide receivers, running back, offensive line, offensive coordinator. While it is too soon to say any of the new starters are comparable to last year’s group, they appear headed in the right direction.
Bryce Young is a little on the small side, but he has already become the favorite to win the Heisman after completing over 70 percent of his passes in the last two games for 571 yards and seven touchdowns (with no interceptions). There is not a standout at running back or wide receiver yet, but that could change in the weeks to come.
The guys they do have are getting the job done, though.
As for the defense—it’s Alabama. The Crimson Tide defense appears to be as stout as ever. Playing a soft opponent like Mercer last week can pad the stats and make them look better than they are. But in Week One, the Alabama D shut down a talented Miami offense.
Florida appears to be a run-heavy team this year, which could play right into the strength of the Alabama D. Two weeks in, they are giving up just 67 yards a game on the ground.
Alabama Vs. Florida Full Sportsbook Odds
The Florida offense was one of the best in the nation last season, but they had a lot to do in the offseason. Their passing game had to be rebuilt with Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, and Trevon Grimes gone. To make matters worse, the Gators needed to find two new offensive linemen as well.
Two games into the 2021 season, the passing game has yet to emerge, but the run game has. Against Florida Atlantic in the season opener, the team combined for 46 total rushing attempts for 400 yards. They followed up that effort with a 44 carry, 363-yard game against South Florida last week.
As for the passing game—well, it has not looked too promising so far. Emory Jones has a touchdown in each game, but he also has two picks in each. While the team had a combined 303 passing yards against South Florida, Anthony Richardson had half of that on three plays (and three completions).
On the defensive side of the ball, it does not look too promising two weeks into the season. Yes, the unit was good enough to get the job done in both games. But the level of competition was much lower than what they will see in conference play. Similar efforts against SEC competition will not look nearly as good.
But if Florida can establish the run game and keep the Alabama offense off the field, they can cover for their defensive deficiencies.
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So far, the Alabama offense does not look as dominant as it has been in recent years. That means a team with a stellar defense could give them fits and maybe even shut them down. But Florida does not have such a defense.
Being competitive with teams like Florida Atlantic and South Florida is one thing but hanging with a perennial powerhouse like Alabama is drastically different. Florida’s best shot will be to run the ball and keep the Alabama offense off the field. But there is no reason to believe they can run on the Alabama D.
It would be nice to think this will be a competitive game—but it will be anything but. Florida’s offense is too one-dimensional and will get shut down by the Alabama D. The Crimson Tide offense will batter the Gators defense into submission. Look for Alabama to run away with this one.
Taking Alabama via the spread or moneyline appears to be safe bets. As for the total, it will not be shocking to see Alabama put up 40+, but it is hard to say Florida will contribute enough to cover the over.