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ALABAMA @ FLORIDA (ALA -14.5, 59.5) FREE PICK

September 16, 2021
Alaba vs Florida spread and prediction

The biggest game of Week 3 in college football is a rematch of last year’s SEC championship game. No. 1 Alabama will travel to Gainesville to take on No. 11 Florida in an early season battle that will likely have College Football Playoff implications, just as it did last year. This year’s matchup will differ from 2020 though. Gone are quarterbacks Mac Jones and Kyle Trask and their replacements may be the difference on Saturday.

Bryce Young was the top quarterback in his recruiting class and has proved why in his first two starts for Nick Saban. Young threw four touchdown passes in the Crimson Tide’s season-opening win over Miami. He was equally efficient last week going 19-for-27 with 227 passing yards and three more touchdowns in a win over FCS Mercer. Saban, of course, was not pleased with the overall performance of his offense.

The Tide actually punted on back-to-back drives early in the game much to the chagrin of their head coach. The Alabama defense also gave up two late scores to set the final at 48-14. As a result, the Tide did not cover the almost ridiculous 54-point spread. It was just the third time in their last 12 games that Alabama failed to cover the point spread. That is a huge feat considering that the Tide was a double-digit favorite in all but one of its last ten games. Saban and company were 9.5-point favorites in the national championship game last year against Ohio State.

Florida is one of the better teams in the SEC at home. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, affectionately known as The Swamp, has provided the impetus for the Gators to win 12 of their last 13 home games. In order to have a chance at beating the Tide on Saturday, Florida will need its dynamic duo of quarterbacks to perform well.

Alabama vs Florida Free Pick

QB Emory Jones

With Trask on to the NFL, Florida head coach Dan Mullen has used both Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. Jones was 14-of-22 for 151 yards and a touchdown last week. Richardson did just a bit better going 3-for-3 for 152 yards and two scores. He also rushed four times for 115 yards and a touchdown. The issue for Mullen this week is that Richardson appeared to pull a hamstring in last Saturday’s win over South Florida. He is listed as questionable for Saturday. If he doesn’t play, the Gators will miss out on his dual-threat abilities.

Alabama has won the last seven games against Florida. Each of the last three was in an SEC championship game. In the last two SEC title games, the Tide has scored over 50 points against the Gators. In those last seven games between the two teams, Alabama has averaged 39.7 points per game. The last Florida victory was in the 2008 SEC championship game. The last time Florida beat Alabama in Gainesville, it was September 2006 and Saban was coaching in the NFL.

The Crimson Tide opened as a 14-point favorite against Florida. That line was quickly bet up to 15.5 but has settle again at 14.5. Remember, Alabama has plenty of experience covering double-digit spreads. One of the reasons is the move to a more wide-open offense that has been among the best in the nation over the past few years. The other is Saban’s forte – defense. Alabama returned seven starters to its defense this season and, despite giving up 14 points last week to Mercer, the Tide are very good at stopping opponents.

With or without Richardson, Florida is going to have a hard time keeping up with Alabama’s offense. Without Richardson, the Gators will not keep pace with the Tide’s star-studded defense. Over the course of their last 21 games, the Gators are 15-6 straight up. Five of the six losses have come to ranked opponents including four that were in the top ten. Florida has had trouble winning big games recently and Saturday will be no different. In the Swamp, in an SEC title game, wherever…Alabama beats the Gators and beats them handily.

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