One of the best games of the weekend in a week five of the college football season filled with great match-ups, is the number 7 ranked Florida Gators at the number 1 defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, AL (8:00 PM ET). Both teams come in with perfect 4-0 records, with Florida coming off of a 48-14 thrashing of Kentucky, and Alabama hanging on for a 24-20 win over then-number 10 Arkansas down in Fayetteville.
Alabama’s defense, with 9 new starters, struggled a bit last week against Arkansas’ QB Ryan Mallett in their toughest test of the season to date. The secondary came up big late in the game with interceptions by Robert Lester and Dre Kirkpatrick sealing the victory, but the Tide has not been able to put pressure on the quarterback with only four sacks through four games. The Florida offense, which struggled early in the season, particularly with snaps in the shotgun formation from center Mike Pouncey, came alive last week in large part due to Freshman quarterback Trey Burton who scored a school record six touchdowns and appears to be on his way to filling the role that school legend Tim Tebow played his first season. Burton relived starter John Brantley by running out of the wildcat formation, and also caught a TD pass from Brantley. The Alabama defense will have their hands full trying to prepare for the two distinct styles of the pro-style QB Brantley and the athletic Burton.
Florida again has a tough defense that is capable of containing Heisman-trophy winning running back Mark Ingram and bruising running back Trent Richardson. Ingram is averaging 9.3 yards per carry on the season, and was spectacular again last week with 157 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Richardson made the most of his opportunities with 85 yards on only eight carries. Florida’s defense held Kentucky to just 99 yards rushing last week, while also picking off two passes adding to its NCAA-leading total of 12, one of which cornerback Jeremy Brown ran back for a touchdown. Tide quarterback Greg McElroy is known for taking care of the ball with only seven career interceptions in 232 pass attempts, but he threw two last week and will have to take better care of the football this week against a ball-hawking Gator defense in order to win. This will be a key matchup to watch in the game.
Florida is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games as a road underdog and 15-7 ATS in their last 22 conference games. Alabama is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games when favored by 3.5-10.0 points. The under is 5-2 in Florida’s last seven road games, and the under is 12-4-1 in Alabama’s last 17 conference games.
Florida vs Alabama Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Florida Gators +8
@ Alabama Crimson Tide -8
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Florida vs. Alabama Prediction for Week 5 Saturday Evening Game:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) – Take the Gators and the points on the road here. Alabama looked shaky against a tough Arkansas team last week, and Mc Elroy has thrown three interceptions the last two weeks against mediocre pass defenses. Florida defends the pass as well as anyone in the country, and has proven themselves capable of stopping the run as well. If Alabama has to rely on McElroy to go to the air to win the game, the advantage goes to Florida. Nine points is too much to give a solid defensive team with an excellent passer and a number of skilled playmakers on offense even if they are on the road in the always tough environment in Tuscaloosa.
Over/Under Prediction – It is hard to see either offense putting up a ton of points against two very strong defensive units. This should be an old-fashioned SEC slug fest in Tuscaloosa. Take the under here, the game should be very similar to last week’s Alabama-Arkansas, 24-20 Alabama win. The turnover battle will determine this one, as it does in most football games. Each team will have their share of take-a-ways, but will have trouble turning them into points and keep the score down.
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