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Not a Rout, But Not a Lucky Win: Alabama 31, Florida 6

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The scoreboard looked worse than the box score, but not much.
The scoreboard looked worse than the box score, but not much.

To get a clear picture of this game, think about the following statistics: Alabama passed for a total of 103 yards, had no one rush for more than 63 yards and its longest play went for 30 yards. And yet, the Tide won the game 31-6.

The four Florida turnovers -- one at the Alabama 2 and another at the Alabama 1 -- didn't help. Trey Burton learned it was harder to complete the jump pass than Tim Tebow made it look; John Brantley was average in his first start against a top-tier SEC opponent.

Still, Alabama wasn't chopped liver. The individual numbers don't leap out at you, but the Tide rushed for a total of 170 yards on 34 carries. Interceptions are usually a matter of skill, not luck, so give the Alabama defenders some credit for making them. Yes, Florida outgained Alabama -- by eight yards. The stat sheet doesn't indicate a rout, but it also doesn't make you think that Alabama was lucky to win the game.

But it does mean the Tide might not be quite as invincible as they look. If Florida plays a little bit better, this is a lot closer to the three- to seven-point win with both teams in the 20s that most people predicted. Alabama is still by far the favorite to win the conference, but they're not going to be able to do so on auto-pilot.

Florida, meanwhile, has just one game to worry about in the course of the next month: Next weekend's showdown with LSU. Then it's Mississippi State, bye, Georgia and Vanderbilt before the Gators have to face South Carolina in what could be a de facto SEC East Championship Game. The two teams from Alabama both took a turn reshaping the race for the other division, but they left it looking much like it did before they started.