College football game of the week preview and best bets: Alabama Crimson Tide vs Florida Gators
There are three all-top 25 tilts on this weekend’s college football slate: Alabama vs Florida, Auburn vs Penn State, and Arizona State vs BYU. Although it is not expected to be the most competitive contest on Saturday’s schedule, Bama vs UF definitely has more national implications than any other game. That’s not to say Auburn-Penn State and ASU-BYU are inconsequential, but they won’t shake up the College Football Playoff picture at this point regardless of the outcome.
Everyone knows Florida is unlikely to seriously compete for the national title. This showdown is a big one because Alabama is part of it — and because it’s the SEC. If the Gators somehow win, though, what a shockwave it would send through the college football world.
Could it happen? Let’s take a look
Breaking down the Crimson Tide
The more things change (Covid-19, NILs in college sports, conference realignment, etc.), the more things stay the same (Alabama is the most talented team in college football). Head coach Nick Saban guided the Tide to another National Championship last season, and following another mass exodus of players to the NFL they are reloading as opposed to rebuilding. Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young is the Heisman Trophy favorite, Brian Robinson Jr. may be the next in line on a long list of star running backs at Alabama, John Metchie III and Jameson Williams are stud receivers, and the defense once again has NFL Draft first-round talent all over the field.
So far the Crimson Tide have disposed of Miami (FL) 44-13 and Mercer 48-14. Both games were even bigger blowouts than the scores suggest.
Breaking down the Gators
The most important question isn’t if the Gators can compete with Alabama (they probably can’t!). The most important question is if they can compete with Georgia in the SEC East. Obviously an early conference loss — likely coming this weekend — wouldn’t be ideal for their long-term conference championship hopes, but it also wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. In all likelihood the East will come down to the Florida-Georgia head-to-head battle.
Whatever the case, UF is off to a decent enough start at the expense of two in-state opponents. After hammering Florida Atlantic 35-14, the Gators jumped all over South Florida 42-20. Their offense has been absolutely unstoppable on the ground, but new quarterback Emory Jones has twice as many interceptions (4) as touchdowns (2).
Check out our SEC predictions
Predictions and best bets
Normally I wouldn’t be too enthused about giving more than 2 touchdowns to a team ranked 11th in the country and playing at home. However, Alabama beat then-No. 14 Miami by 31 (and it could have been more) and that was in Young’s debut. Now he has two games under his belt and the Tide are already looking like a well-oiled machine. Additionally, Jones being picked off twice by both FAU and USF doesn’t bode well for his chances against the Bama defense. Give me the Crimson Tide -15.5.
I also like Alabama -7.5 in the first half. Obviously giving exactly 7 points would be more favorable, but covering an extra half-point really shouldn’t be a problem. The Crimson Tide beat Miami by 31 points and led by 24 at halftime; they rolled over Mercer by 34 points and led by 31 at the break. Look for them to take advantage of some early jitters by Jones and dominate on both sides of the ball right from the start.
At Pickswise we offer free expert College Football Picks and College Football Predictions for all games in the Power Five conferences and the top 25 teams outside of Power five, including our College Football Parlay picks each week.