The 7th ranked Florida Gators had many reasons to be confident heading into their showdown Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Then again, there is a reason Alabama entered the season with the nation’s top ranking.
Breaking away from a close 3-0 game in the first quarter, Alabama (5-0, 2-0) scored 21 unanswered points to take a 24-3 lead, en route to rolling 31-6.
The game swung on a fourth-and-goal play from the 2 in the first quarter for the Gators, when QB John Brantley tried to imitate former Gator Tim Tebow with a jump pass for a score. The problem was that Alabama’s Nico Johnson was there for the interception to kill the drive.
Alabama used that goal line stand to turn the tide, with running back Mark Ingram scoring a pair of TD’s, and C.J. Mosley taking back an interception 35 yards for a touchdown.
The win was Alabama’s 19th straight, leaving senior QB Greg McElroy still perfect in both his high school and collegiate career to date.
“I was very, very pleased with the way we played in the first half,” Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said afterwards. “I thought we played physical, played with toughness, played strong. I was really encouraged.”
Ingram and Trent Richardson were held to 110 yards rushing combined for the night, but Alabama still had too much for a Florida (4-1, 2-1) squad that was coming off of a 48-14 rout of Kentucky a week earlier. On the night, the Gators were guilty of four turnovers.
Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze even got in on the scoring action, throwing a touchdown pass to Michael Williams from the wildcat.
“We just came out ready to play tonight,” junior defensive back Mark Barron commented. ”A lot of guys had their minds right as far as what they had to do mentally, and that showed when we stepped onto the field.”
With their minds on another national championship, Alabama now travels to Columbia, S.C. for a meeting Saturday with Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks (2:30 p.m. Central, CBS)
“The turnovers played a key role for us because most of the time they came in critical situations tonight,” Barron added. “They played a big role and really changed the momentum for us a few times tonight.”
Sitting unbeaten and with the top ranking in the nation, Alabama seems to be enjoying its role just fine.
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Written by Dave Thomas