This used to be not just the biggest game in the SEC but in the whole of College Football not too long ago, but at the moment, Florida heading to Tuscaloosa to play with Alabama feels like putting a heavyweight prize fighter with a flyweight amateur in the same boxing ring.
The Gators are 2-0 so far this season with wins over Eastern Michigan and Kentucky. The win over the Wildcats, a team that hasn’t won a conference game in a very long time, came after three overtimes. The Gators are trying to run a new offense with Jeff Driskel back at the helm and Will Muschamp screaming on the sidelines. This isn’t his style, but it’s the last trick he has up his sleeve to try and save his job.
It’s not that Alabama have exactly been scorching of late. They are 3-0 with wins over Southern Miss and Florida Atlantic, both handled without any problems. However, their one real test this season, playing against West Virginia, wasn’t exactly a dominant performance against one of the weaker teams in the Big 12. Over their last three games against other Power 5 conference teams (Auburn in last year’s Iron Bowl, Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, West Virginia in week 1) the Crimson Tide have given up an average of 34 points.
Florida were beaten 38-10 by Alabama the last time these two teams met. That was Muschamp’s first season in Gainesville. Alabama went on to win the national title. Muschamp has led to Florida to one BSC game in his tenure, losing to Louisville. Last year was a complete breakdown on all fronts. Injuries might be the big issue in this one terrible season, but it’s not always about the players.
One matchup that seems to be what Alabama are counting on considering they’ve been looking quite one-dimensional so far and haven’t been completely confident in the ability of Blake Sims is that of Amari Cooper, maybe the best wide receiver in the conference (or maybe the nation) and Vernon Hargreaves, Florida’s corner who is also aligning himself as one of the best in College Football.
Cooper is averaging 11 receptions and 151 yards per game so far this season, not to mention catching two touchdown passes. Hargreaves has allowed just one catch thrown in his direction so far this season, giving up a total of 14 yards. He also leads the SEC with five passes defended. However, while this could be the interesting matchup, Alabama seem so much more superior in almost every other aspect of this game.
Florida have a wide receiver of their own they’re counting on to make some big plays: Demarcus Robinson with 21 receptions for 339 yards and three touchdowns in two games this season. The problem is the rivals the Gators have done it against. The same might be said for Alabama, but they have the previous seasons to build on in order to look more formidable. Florida don’t get that benefit of doubt.