The Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over Florida 54-16, strengthening their grip on the top spot in college football.
That’s not to say that Nick Saban’s squad was perfect. It wasn’t. The Crimson Tide offense got off to a very slow start, netting minus 7 yards on its first two drives. Likewise, the Alabama defense gave up a touchdown on the opening drive of the contest –something that rarely happens. The kicking game was also shaky after Florida blocked a PAT and returned it for two points.
Despite these mistakes, this was an impressive victory for the Tide. The Alabama front seven dominated the line of scrimmage from the opening whistle, limiting Florida to zero yards on 30 carries. It also kept the heat on Austin Appleby all afternoon, recording three sacks, and forcing him to throw a number of balls early. As a result of the pressure, Appleby threw three interceptions — one more than he’d thrown all season.
However, what stands out the most about the Crimson Tide defense is something that won’t show up on any stat sheet. On the first drive of the second half, the Florida offense had a first-and-goal situation from the Alabama three-yard line. The Crimson Tide D stopped the Gators for no gain on first down, and followed that up with a tackle for a loss from the one-yard line on third down. Since it couldn’t run the ball in the end zone, Florida opted to throw the ball on fourth down, resulting in a turnover on downs.
This huge stop turned the tide in this contest. The Alabama defense would dominate the game from that point, holding Florida to just seven yards on its final three drives. The goal line stand also fired up the offense, which scored touchdowns on its final three possessions.
With the win over Florida, Alabama left no doubt that it’s the top team in the nation. Counting the SEC championship game, the Tide is 4-o against teams in the College Football Playoff rankings, with an impressive 3-0 mark versus the top 15. Considering that Alabama scored 50 or more points in two of its three games against top 15 opponents, it looks highly likely that the Crimson Tide will repeat as national champions this season.