Saturday TV Preview: Florida Alabama
The media had been hoping that Florida/Alabama was going to turn into a blockbuster. Many pundits had been (inexplicably) on the Gators bandwagon regarding a bounce back year for “under the gun” head coach Will Muschamp. The September 18 showdown between Florida the Crimson Tide was going to let everyone know if Florida was for real…while also possibly showing everyone that Alabama was vulnerable with a new quarterback.
That was all well and good until Florida looked awful last week against Kentucky in a prime time game on the SEC Network. When Brent Musburger is marveling that an 18-point underdog should have won straight up…you know the favorite looked ugly. If Florida was so helpless at home against Kentucky, how are they going to match up with Alabama in Tuscaloosa?
Hey, this is college football. Stranger things have happened. And, a solid performance from Florida might not be a stunner considering:
*They were probably looking ahead past Kentucky to Alabama last week
*Alabama may be overrated, given that they haven’t covered a spread yet this year
It’s possible that the afternoon’s TV showcase really is going to turn into a thriller. And, handicappers must be open to the possibility that BOTH teams are a bit worse than expected. If you don’t bet the game in Las Vegas, watch it so you can make smart bets through the rest of SEC play!
Let’s quickly review what’s happened so far in 2014 for both teams…
FLORIDA (2-0…had season opener postponed by bad weather)
Head Coach: Will Muschamp
Quarterback: Jeff Driskel (Junior, struggles vs. quality)
Florida (-41) beat Eastern Michigan 65-0
Florida (-18) beat Kentucky 36-30 in Triple OT (20-all in regulation)
Eastern Michigan is truly awful this season, so that 65-0 margin may be a bubble full of hot air. EMU lost to Old Dominion by two touchdowns last week, and opened its season with a naibliter against Morgan State. The OT result against Kentucky is very troubling if you’re a Florida fan. The offense struggled much of the game, until Kentucky’s undersized athletes ran out of gas. This looked very much like the recent disappointments rather than a newly invigorated Florida program. If that WASN’T a lookahead performance, then Florida won’t play in a bowl and Muschamp will be out of work by Christmas.
Head Coach: Nick Saban
Quarterback: Blake Sims (Senior, so-far-so-good)
Alabama (-22) beat West Virginia 33-23
Alabama (-41) beat Florida Atlantic 41-0 (shortened by weather)
Alabama (-47) beat Southern Miss 52-12
Sims is a fifth-year senior who saw limited action until this season. He hasn’t been a negative. But, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss are awful. The opener against West Virginia on a neutral field was more entertaining than it was supposed to be. And, given that it came on the delayed heels of a poor defensive game against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, it raised a lot of doubts about the direction of Alabama’s defense. If Alabama has lost its intimidation factor defensively, and Sims is about to run into real SEC pressure for the first time…Alabama may indeed find itself on the outside of the conference championship game looking in for the second straight season.
Las Vegas Line: Alabama 14.5, total of 51.5
Alabama is often favored in that range in league play…but you fans of the SEC know their results skew all over the place. They’ve suffered upsets at that price (Johnny Football!). They’re capable of being ahead 31-0 in the second quarter and that price on their way to a 38-3 snoozer. But, THIS Alabama team with THIS quarterback is an unknown quantity in THIS situation!
Will Florida announce its return to big time football? Will Alabama remind everyone that this program bullies people regardless of who their quarterback is? Is the Over/Under here a smarter play because of recent developments? JIM HURLEY will only play this game for his clients if it’s one of the best on the board. Saturday’s schedule is HUGE, and there’s no reason to force any action just because something’s on TV.
Find out if Florida/Alabama made the cut Saturday morning right here at the website. Major releases will be waiting for you well before kickoff of the early games. If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office Friday afternoon or Saturday morning at 1-800-323-4453.
We stay in the colleges tomorrow with a preview of Clemson/Florida State. That game just got more interesting with the first half suspension of Jameis Winston! The next few days in the NOTEBOOK…
Saturday: College Football TV Preview…Clemson at Florida State
Sunday: NFL Sunday Night TV Preview…Pittsburgh at Carolina
Monday: NFL Monday Night TV Preview…Chicago at the NY Jets
Tuesday: College Football Notes
Wednesday: NFL Notes
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