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Alabama Begins SEC Campaign, Hosts Florida

Blake Sims will lead Alabama into battle with Florida.

Blake Sims will lead Alabama into battle with Florida.

Widely expected to take home the SEC championship this season, No. 3 Alabama begins the conference portion of its schedule Saturday, welcoming unranked Florida to Tuscaloosa.

Kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET.

The matchup offers an opportunity to see how Nick Saban’s side is able to cope in a pressure situation, while Florida will be looking to bounce back from what Will Muschamp hopes was a subpar performance a week ago.

The Story So Far

Entering the season, Alabama (3-0, 0-0 SEC) was picked as the favorite to emerge with the SEC West Division crown and ultimately the conference championship. So far, so good.

After a close affair with West Virginia to open the season, the Crimson Tide rolled to victories over Florida Atlantic and Southern Mississippi, outscoring the Conference USA pair to the tune of 93-12. The whitewashes ensure the Tide will begin the SEC campaign with an unblemished record.

Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) comes into the game knowing that any kind of championship run is going to be tough. After a Week 1 clash with Idaho was nixed thanks to poor weather, the Gators earned a convincing shutout win over Eastern Michigan before stumbling against Kentucky last weekend.

A triple-overtime victory, accompanied by a controversial play clock call, saw the Gators fend off the Wildcats, but the performance is one that didn’t impress. With one game less on the docket, Florida can’t afford not to impress.

Muschamp knows his team needs to improve and went as far as calling out three of his star players this week. He expects more of quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, and will need more if the Gators are to breach Alabama’s solid defense.

Meanwhile, Alabama will continue to start quarterback Blake Sims, who has tallied 646 yards on 75 percent passing for four touchdowns and one interception through the first three games of the season. The senior looks to have played his way into a permanent starting role, although that could change if Florida’s defense gets to him on Saturday.

A loss for either side will provide a huge blemish to the record. For Florida, it would surely equate to game over, while Alabama – with its tough West Division schedule – most likely would still have time to recover. Don’t expect the Tide to go into this with anything but victory on its mind though.


Alabama leads the all-time head-to-head series 24-14, and is 12-9 all-time when hosting Florida.

The Crimson Tide has won three straight and six of the last eight.

Florida has not beaten Alabama in Tuscaloosa since October 1998, but has actually only visited Bryant-Denny Stadium twice in that period. The two sides have contested three SEC Championship Games during that time, all played in Atlanta, with Alabama owning a 2-1 advantage.

The last meeting between the two schools came on October 1, 2011, in Gainesville, Fla., a game the Tide won 38-10.

Will Muschamp served as a coordinator under Nick Saban at Louisiana State and with the Miami Dolphins. Saturday’s game will mark the second time that the student has met the master. Saban came out on top last time round.

Injury Report

Florida offensive tackle D.J. Humphries is out indefinitely with an ankle injury, while defensive tackle Thomas Holley (hip) and tight end Jake McGee (leg) are both done for the season.

Alabama defensive back Jarrick Williams (foot) is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game, while wide receiver DeAndrew White is listed as questionable having missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. Most expect the senior to play.

Betting Report

Below you’ll find Betting Sports’ breakdown of odds and betting trends.

Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide odds for 09/20/2014

Moneyline: Alabama (-600) opened as the favorite over Florida (+481) on the moneyline.

The Crimson Tide has won 22 consecutive SEC openers, a trend that will be enough to convince most bettors.

There’s little to get bettors excited about Florida, although it is worth pointing out that the Gators have more road wins (9) than home wins (2) against Alabama.

Spread: The spread opened at 15.5 but at the time of writing can be found anywhere between 14 and 15.5. Shopping around on the sportsbooks could prove fruitful here.

Alabama (0-3-0 ATS) has yet to cover the spread this season, and has now gone five games without covering the spread, dating back to last year’s SEC Championship Game.

Florida (1-1-0 ATS) has posted an even record through two games, but is just 2-6-1 ATS over its last nine games.

Alabama is 7-1-0 ATS in its last eight head-to-head meetings with Florida, and 4-1-0 ATS in the last five played between the sides in Tuscaloosa.

Total: The total opened at 51.5 and has subsequently dropped a point or so.

Both Alabama (2-1-0) and Florida (2-0-0) have favored the over in the early part of this season, but bettors should be wary; the under has paid out in four of the last five games the two sides have played at Bryant-Denny Stadium.


For a comprehensive list of College Football odds, click here.

Up-to-date College Football Futures, courtesy of Bovada, can be found here.

A selection of team prop bets can be found here.

A selection of player prop bets can be found here.

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