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Alabama Crimson Tide 42, Florida Gators 21: Tide Crushes Florida and Looks Like a Contender Again

For anyone who had doubted Alabama after a sluggish game in the first week, the Tide answered the questions and reminded everyone that they shouldn't be ignored

Kevin C. Cox

It could have been worse. As terrible as this game was for Florida on offense, as bad as the defense looked in giving up the most yardage in Florida history, and as tilted a game as the score suggests it was -- Saturday's collision between Alabama and Florida could have been much worse.

The Tide committed four turnovers in this game, and Alabama struggled to get any type of running game going early on. Even after breaking out for several big runs later in the game, the Tide's 196 rushing yards were built largely on 52 carries -- Alabama averaged 3.8 yards per attempt. And the Tide committed 11 penalties to give Florida 80 free yards, equivalent to 40 percent of the Gators' total offense in this game.

So it could have been worse -- but what it was anyways was about as dominant a performance we've seen between two SEC teams with the possible exception of the Texas A&M-South Carolina game. Alabama churned out 645 yards of total offense, 121 yards more than Nebraska did in the infamous 1996 Fiesta Bowl. The Tide averaged 12.8 yards per passing attempt. Alabama converted 12 of 16 third downs while limiting Florida to two third-down conversions on 13 attempts. Jeff Driskel was 9-of-28 for 93 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

In short, this was the kind of performance we've been waiting for out of one the preseason favorites in the SEC. The Tide was as impressive against Florida this week as they were unimpressive against West Virginia in the first week. You can fairly ding Alabama for the turnover issues, but that also requires recognizing what Alabama did even with that working against them. And as long as Blake Sims is throwing the football to Amari Cooper with ease, it's going to be hard for teams to beat even a generous Alabama offense.

On the other hand, this puts a sizable dent in Florida's already-battered reputation. After last week's game against Kentucky and this week's effort, it looks fair to say that the Eastern Michigan game was a mirage, and that the Gators offense could struggle again. And if Will Muschamp's defense is going to struggle like it did today -- things could get pretty ugly pretty quickly in Gainesville. The only hope for Florida is that they play in the SEC East, and no one in that division has exactly set the world on fire in the first four weeks.

But for those who were writing off Alabama early, this was a reminder that you do that at your own peril. There's still a long way to go in the season, and there are still some difficult teams on the Tide's schedule, but the Tide looked Saturday like a team playing on a different level than their opponent and ready to take on anyone else who wants a shot.