Posted by Jerry Hinnen
ALABAMA WON: John Brantley's untimely injury might have made the final score more lopsided, but we don't think we're on much of a limb when we say it wouldn't have changed the final outcome, not with the Tide continuing to hit on just as many cylinders -- go ahead and call it "all of them" -- as they did in routing Arkansas the week before. Bruising ground game? Check, with Trent Richardson rolling to 181 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Stifling defense? Check, with the Gators gaining all of 162 yards and scoring all of 3 points in the 59:41 following their 65-yard touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage. Big-play opportunism? Check, as Courtney Upshaw's 45-yard pick-six two minutes into second quarter ended the Gators' early momentum for good.
Check, check, check, checkmate.
WHY ALABAMA WON: Here's a statistic that illustrates the Tide's physical dominance over a team that itself had gotten off to a mighty physical start: Florida has outrushed its first four opponents by an average of 259 to 56, then was outrushed itself 226 to 15 by the Tide. Until an opponent finds some way of standing up to the Tide on both lines of scrimmage, three-touchdown victories are going to continue to be the norm.
But even so, an opponent like Florida might have at least been able to stay competitive if AJ McCarron had continued living up to his preseason (and early-season) reputation for the occasional wayward pass or poor decision. Sorry, Gators: McCarron only threw for 5.6 yards an attempt, but he continued to make nothing but safe, effective throws and the Tide finished the game without a turnover.
WHEN ALABAMA WON: The Tide likely already had all the points and all the lead they would need once they went up 24-10 in the second quarter. But Brantley's injury -- on yet another huge play by Upshaw -- made that all but official. At that point the only questions were how many yards Richardson could rack up and how many touchdowns the Tide would win by.
WHAT ALABAMA WON: Surely, a few more first-place votes. But unless Tyler Bray plays the game of his life in a few weeks, the Tide have also now cleared the only serious hurdle between themselves and rolling undefeated into the Game of the Year against LSU in November.
WHAT FLORIDA LOST: In the record books and SEC standings, not all that much, really; South Carolina's loss means they could maintain the favorite's role in the SEC East, and this was never the sort of team that could really dream about running the table to a crystal football.
But if Brantley is out for any extended period of time, that is as major a loss as they come. Jeff Driskel is a fine, fine prospect, but he's shown little to date that indicates he's ready to navigate the final three-quarters of an SEC schedule. As iffy as Carolina and Georgia have looked, if the Gators are forced to make do without their starting quarterback, the East door will be wide, wide open.