Is Jeff Driskel Ready To Pull It Off?

Week 4 SEC Fearless Predictions: Florida at Alabama

Week 4 SEC
- South Carolina at Vanderbilt
- Mississippi State at LSU 
- Indiana at Missouri 
- Florida at Alabama
- NIU at Arkansas, Texas A&M at SMU, Troy at Georgia

Florida (2-0) at Alabama (3-0) Sept. 20, 3:30, CBS

Here's The Deal: How does a college football head coach go from thrown under or off the bus to the biggest thing in college football in one week? Beat Alabama. But does Will from Gainesville have the horses and the talent to get his Gators to rise up and pull off a program-changing win, or is this when Alabama flexes a little muscle and shows that everything is humming at a national title level?

This might have effectively been for the national title when the two met in the 2008 and 2009 SEC championships, but the Crimson Tide won the 2010 and 2011 regular season matchups by a combined score of 69-16 and haven’t won at Bama since 1998. No one’s expecting much out of Will Muschamp’s bunch, but this is a talented, dangerous team that might become a major factor once everything starts to come together defensively.

Florida showed its power game over the first two weeks, and Alabama leads the nation in run defense. Alabama’s offense has been humming as all the new parts start to get there, while Florida is still playing around with key parts of its defensive back seven. Several key things will be figured out one way or another.

Has the offense progressed enough to hang around? Will the adversity of the overtime win over Kentucky be the start of a 2012-like season, or was it an indicator that bad, bad things are about to happen with the most brutal conference run of anyone in college football? As if going to Alabama this week wasn’t enough, still to deal with on the slate are Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina lurking before a road trip to Florida State.

Alabama was fine in the opener against a West Virginia team that found an offense and is better than originally believed, but now it’s time to try again after two light scrimmages against Florida Atlantic and Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide have a rough run of their own with four road games in the next five, going to Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU with Texas A&M sandwiched in between, and this isn’t going to be easy.

Why Florida Might Win: Can Florida outbully the bully? Alabama might be No. 1 in the nation in run defense, but West Virginia doesn’t really pound, and Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss didn’t stand a chance with their respective running games. Florida is lathering up its ground attack with a brutish offensive line and the running of Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor helping the O crank up close to 500 yards on the ground over the first two games. Don’t expect the two to average close to six yard a pop against the Bama D. but Florida won’t be afraid to keep trying. QB Jeff Driskel is one of the team’s most effective runners, but he hasn’t been turned loose yet. He won’t be Johnny Manziel when he takes off, but he’s just mobile enough to give the Tide a few problems.

Why Alabama Might Win: Was the Kentucky game a sign of things to come for the rebuilding Florida pass defense? There weren’t any problems against Eastern Michigan – shocking – but Patrick Towles and the UK offense were able to push the ball around for big plays with 369 yards and three touchdowns. Even with a little pressure behind the line, the Wildcat offense still worked in the second half with three scoring plays of 25 yards or more. The Tide running game might be the star, but the passing game has been ultra-efficient so far with Blake Sims hitting 75% of his passes and averaging over ten yards a throw because …

Who To Watch Out For: Amari Cooper is playing like the nation’s best wide receiver. The Alabama junior has been an unstoppable machine, catching 33 passes for 454 yards and two scores. He’s averaging a relatively pedestrian 13.8 yards per grab, but he’s doing a wonderful job of connecting with the new Bama starting quarterbacks and making all the mid-range plays to go along with a few home runs. As good as Cooper has been, he hasn’t had a day like Florida sophomore Demarcus Robinson did against Kentucky, catching 15 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns including a nine-yarder on fourth down in the first overtime to keep the game alive. All the tools are there to be special, and now he has to prove he can be consistent.

What’s Going To Happen: Florida will make this a game. Jeff Driskel will come up with a good, solid game, and the defense will rise up and play better than it did in the second half against Kentucky. The Tide skill players will be too much, and Cooper will be too good, but the Tide will be in for a fight.
Prediction: Alabama 27 … Florida 17
Line: Alabama -14.5 o/u: 52
Must Watch Factor: (5: The Guest - 1: Extreme Guide To Parenting) … 4.5

Week 4 SEC
- South Carolina at Vanderbilt
- Mississippi State at LSU 
- Indiana at Missouri 
- Florida at Alabama
- NIU at Arkansas, Texas A&M at SMU, Troy at Georgia

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