They rolled in Week 1, but the Alabama Crimson Tide are the wrong NCAAF pick for Saturday’s game against the Florida Gators.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida Gators
at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Well, here we go again. Fading the Alabama Crimson Tide can seem like an exercise in futility; they were giving up 20 points in their season opener against the Miami Hurricanes, who were ranked No. 14 in the nation heading into Week 1, and Alabama ended up winning 44-13. The Tide were up 41-3 in the middle of the third quarter before they took their foot off the gas. Epic. But then Alabama came up a bit short in their 48-14 drubbing of the Mercer Bears, who were 54-point road dogs on the NCAAF odds board. Maybe they just need a better opponent to motivate them – like the No. 11 Florida Gators, who welcome ‘Bama to the Swamp this Saturday. Once again, it seems the Tide are giving up way too many points as 15.5-point road faves at Caesars Sportsbook. It will take even more intestinal fortitude to fade them after what they did to the Hurricanes, but fade them I shall.
Three New Quarterbacks
The only real concern for Alabama heading into the 2021-22 season was the departure of so many skilled players from last year’s championship team – including at quarterback, where Bryce Young has taken over for Mac Jones (now with the New England Patriots). Those concerns have been put to rest; Young has already thrown seven touchdown passes with zero picks, and was sacked just once in each of his two games thus far. There’s another team playing Saturday, though, and the last time they faced Alabama, the Gators came this close to winning outright. It was the 2020 regular-season finale; Florida were 16.5-point home dogs on the college football lines, and they took ‘Bama to the wire before losing 52-46. These Gators have made tremendous progress since Dan Mullen took over the program in 2018. They’ve filled their own holes on offense, replacing quarterback Kyle Trask with Emory Jones (and his trusty sidekick, Anthony Richardson), and they’re still pretty good on defense, too.
Rain Check There’s just one problem: Florida haven’t covered yet this year. Thanks in part to four untimely interceptions by Jones, the Gators are 0-2 ATS after otherwise excellent victories over Florida Atlantic (+23.5 away) and South Florida (+29 at home). Interceptions are high-variance, though. Even the stout Alabama defense can’t rely on take-aways if they want to beat the college football odds. The advanced stats give us further evidence that Florida are undervalued here. They’re No. 9 on the SP+ charts heading into Week 3, two spots better than where they sit on the AP poll. And just to throw some chaos into the mix, it’s rainy season in Gainesville right now; Saturday’s forecast calls for possible light rain in the evening, which would help keep the score low and make it more difficult for Alabama to cover that large spread. Every little bit helps when you’re trying to fade the champs.
NCAAF Pick: Florida +15.5 (–110) at Caesars