No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Florida will square off in The Swamp in Gainesville, Florida on Saturday in a rematch of the 2020 SEC Championship. The Crimson Tide survived a late scare from the Gators in that one en route to the national title. This year’s version of the Crimson Tide features several new faces including quarterback Bryce Young, but the results haven’t changed much — they’re still a juggernaut.
Florida is fresh off wins over FAU and USF, but is still looking for consistency under center. Emory Jones has thrown two interceptions in each of his first two games, while backup Anthony Richardson — who has proved to be a dynamic threat on the ground — is nursing a hamstring injury.
Let’s break down this game and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Alabama vs. Florida: Need to know
Who’s the Gators QB?: The natives are restless in Gainesville after Jones’ early-season struggles. The calls for the freshman Richardson have evolved from whispers to a dull roar, but coach Dan Mullen hasn’t committed to Richardson taking over the top spot on the depth chart. One thing for sure is that turnovers against the Tide will turn games sideways in a hurry. Richardson hasn’t been able to show what he has through the air, while Jones’ issues taking care of the ball have to be concerning. Will Mullen go with the unknown or roll the dice with a quarterback who hasn’t been responsible? That’s the biggest storyline of the game on the Gators’ side.
Will Anderson’s status: Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson is a freak among freaks on the Tide defense, but there is a concern on how healthy he will be on Saturday. The sophomore suffered a knee injury in last week’s win over Mercer, and coach Nick Saban said Monday that Anderson is considered day-to-day heading into Saturday’s game vs. the Gators. Anderson has 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack in two games. Even when he’s not making the play, he has a huge impact on the defense due to the attention he demands. Florida is third in the SEC in tackles for loss allowed with six and leads the conference in rushing with 381.5 yards per game, but will have its hands full if Anderson is at or close to 100%.
Florida has to prevent the big plays: Alabama’s offense is loaded with Young at the helm, Brian Robinson Jr toting the rock and John Metchie III and Co. getting behind defenses. Meanwhile, Florida has given up 24 plays of 10 or more yards — tied for ninth in the SEC. That’s a bit concerning considering the two cupcakes it played in its first two games. Alabama has a knack for turning close games into blowouts quickly due to big plays, and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham simply can’t let that happen.
How to watch Alabama vs. Florida live
Team vs. Team prediction, picks
Featured Game | Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
If Mullen wants to at least have a chance, he will start Richardson. It doesn’t sound like he’s prepared to due that based on what he has said publicly this week. In the end, though, will it really matter? Probably not. Alabama’s defense will tee off on whoever’s taking the snaps and ensure that the running game can’t get going. Grantham will take unnecessary risks on the defensive side, and the Crimson Tide will roll to an easy win in The Swamp Prediction: Alabama (-15.5)
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