Alabama vs. Florida College Football Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Does Value Lie on Gators?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Richardson.
Alabama vs. Florida Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
A rematch of the SEC Championship game could not look any different just three weeks into the season.
Both teams are undefeated, but the makeup of each program has changed dramatically. Alabama has cruised to start 2021 in blowouts of Miami and Mercer, as quarterback Bryce Young continues to gain confidence with seven passing touchdowns and no interceptions on the season.
As for Florida, the departure of Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney left the Gators with one of the lowest marks in returning production. The drop in experience has yet to show up in three-touchdown victories over Florida Atlantic and South Florida.
A pair of explosive dual-threat quarterbacks have generated excitement in Gainesville in hopes of defeating Alabama for the first time since 2008.
The Crimson Tide covered easily in the season opener, limiting the Hurricanes to just 4.39 yards per play and an overall Success Rate well below the national average. Alabama stuffed almost half of Miami’s rushing attempts, a positive sign for a new defensive line.
Young completed plenty of low-risk passes in the backfield to new explosive targets in Jameson Williams and JoJo Earle.
Not all the news has been great for Saban to this point. From an injury perspective, the defense may be shorthanded as Will Anderson is day-to-day while Christopher Allen will miss the remainder of the season.
A non-cover against Mercer may be acceptable in a scheduling sandwich spot, but the Tide have now committed 17 penalties. Exasperated by activity after the whistle and helmet throwing, Saban said the flags are ridiculous from his undisciplined squad.
ICYMI: Coach Nick Saban had this to say after Alabama's win over Mercer. pic.twitter.com/mPSNBAEaSR
— WBRC FOX6 News (@WBRCnews) September 12, 2021
Crimson Tide Offense
The offense was expected to take a production dip after the loss of quarterback Mac Jones and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith to the NFL.
The most glaring issues have come from the offensive line, specifically center Darrian Dalcourt and right tackle Chris Owens. Alabama ranks 82nd in Havoc allowed with a Line Yards rank outside the top 50.
The pass blocking grade of 85th explains the plan of offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to get the ball out quick to weapons a number of explosive weapons.
— Sideline CFB (@SidelineCFB) September 11, 2021
Young has an impressive stat sheet from a touchdown-to-interception ratio perspective, but a deep dive suggests that trouble could be in store for the sophomore. Through two games, the quarterback has just three big-time throws and two turnover-worthy plays.
Brian Robinson Jr. and Jase McClellan have been electric out of the backfield from a yards after contact perspective, but that contact generally comes behind the line of scrimmage.
O’Brien has run primarily 12 formations on first down with a lean toward rushing the ball. One new element for Alabama is running 13, loading up with three tight ends for the sole purpose of running the ball.
Alabama has enough explosive playmakers to cover up the offensive line mistakes, but pressure from Florida is the biggest handicap in this game.
Crimson Tide Defense
The Crimson Tide defense continues to post outstanding ranks in defensive categories, but Success Rate is lagging compared to previous seasons. Mercer and Miami offenses have handed the Alabama defense ranks of 48th in Rushing Success Rate and 79th in Passing Success Rate.
The Bears may have laid the groundwork for the Florida template, failing in passing downs with a 14% Success Rate but racking up an above-national-average Success Rate in passes from standard downs.
Mercer averaged over six yards per play in standard downs and called four passes over 15 yards.
— Mercer Football (@MercerFootball) September 11, 2021
Outside of Success Rate, the Alabama numbers are excellent.
A top-25 rank in Line Yards and coverage grading come from both the front and back of the defense. The Crimson Tide are fifth in Defensive Havoc and grade out third in the nation from a tackling perspective, per PFF.
Much like the offense, there are plenty of playmakers on defense to generate plays behind the line of scrimmage after giving up a lengthy gain.
Home-field advantage was on head coach Dan Mullen’s mind this week. The Gators lost to Texas A&M during the pandemic 2020 season as Kyle Field was estimated to have over 50,000 fans in attendance.
There is plenty of hype around a team that was expected to rebuild after losing so many players to the NFL.
Mullen continues his legacy as a quarterback whisperer with two dual-threats following a long line of successful tenderfoots, including Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Alex Smith.
The Gators defense has shown improvement, as the bulk of Florida Atlantic and South Florida stats came from garbage time.
The defensive line has seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss — positive indicators against the Alabama offensive line.
There are not many players whose numbers jump off the page and demand attention, but quarterback Anthony Richardson isn’t an average player.
The backup quarterback has posted gaudy numbers on the ground, including 25 yards per rushing attempt. Although there have been nine designed runs against inferior defenses, Richardson averages 11.9 yards after initial contact and created 10 missed tackles this season.
Anthony Richardson stats the last two weeks:
Passing: 6-for-11 for 192 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
Rushing: 11 carries for 275 yards, 2 TDs
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 11, 2021
Emory Jones is still the starting quarterback, but the numbers from a passing perspective are starting to bifurcate between the two players.
Jones has been careless through two games, generating three big-time throws to six turnover-worthy plays. In contrast, Richardson is showing shades of the Tebow playbook with three big-time throws and no turnover-worthy plays.
🚀 116 yards
🚀 2 TDs
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 11, 2021
Florida is top-20 in Rushing Success Rate, big-play percentage and pass blocking. The biggest indicator that the Gators offensive line can control the trench is a rank of second in Line Yards.
The point spread continues to drop in Florida’s favor throughout the week, but any negative news around Richardson’s hamstring tightness would certainly send the Crimson Tide spread back to 17 or more.
The Florida counting stats have garbage-time numbers factored in from the Florida Atlantic and South Florida wins, but this defensive front seven has continually played in opposing backfields.
Coordinator Todd Grantham is pleased with the rebound from a 2020 season that saw Success Rate fall out of the top 100. The Gators have returned to rank 34th in Line Yards and 16th in tackling.
Zachary Carter uses the inside hand stab to off-balance the blocker, then takes it away. Ends up with a strip-sack.@_ZachAttacks earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his game vs FAU! #passrush #gogators #nfldraft pic.twitter.com/EVf8dcjqfo
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) September 8, 2021
Florida defense ranks seventh in the nation in pass rush, per PFF. The pressure is encouraging from the 3-3-5 defense that does not rely on the blitz, sending pressure with just four or five defenders on 19% of snaps.
The question is whether or not this is by design ahead of the Alabama game, with 29% of snaps from the 3-3-5 sending blitz in 2020.
The handicap depends on Florida’s ability to blow up the offensive line and disrupt passing attempts in short-yardage attempts to the wideout and slot positions.
From the Crimson Tide’s offensive line grading through two games, there are expectations that the Gators will be in the backfield most of the afternoon.
Alabama vs. Florida Matchup Analysis
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Alabama Offense vs. Florida Defense
Florida Offense vs. Alabama Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Alabama vs. Florida Betting Pick
There are an abundant number of reasons why the number continues to move in favor of Florida.
Richardson has flashed dual-threat skills that would create problems for elite college football defenses. A season-ending injury to Christopher Allen and a questionable status to Will Anderson suggests Florida will have success against the Crimson Tide front seven.
Also returning to Alabama practice from injury is corner Josh Jobe, a key piece to the secondary where Mullen may elect to attack in passing downs.
If there is success in owning the trench with dual-threat quarterbacks for Florida, the same may be said on the defensive side of the ball.
The Miami defensive line discarded plenty of Tide offensive linemen, recording sacks and tackles for loss.
The bigger question is if O’Brien has kept Young from throwing downfield. Through two games, Young has attempted 10 passes past 20 yards, completing just a single pass. Florida has a PFF coverage grade of 111th, indicating that Young may have more success throwing downfield than dumping off to targets in the flats.
Florida has an exciting offense in the wake of so much talent loss, but the emergence of Richardson gives Mullen one of the most electric offensive players in all FBS.
The Action Network projection makes Alabama -12.5, giving a betting recommendation down to 13 with the assumption of a healthy Richardson.
As for the total, the projection of 60 is near the current market number. The over must be in consideration, as Florida runs a tempo of 38th in plays per minute but fields a defense that is 63rd in Finishing Drives.
The Havoc and coverage grades suggest quick-strike explosive plays are in the forecast for Alabama against a defensive line that will generate pressure.