No. 3 Alabama rolls over No. 12 Florida, 38-10
— No. 3 Alabama showed it can run and stop the run better than 12th-ranked Florida, maybe better than anyone in the country.
Trent Richardson had 181 yards rushing and two touchdowns, breaking tackles and carrying defenders along the way, and the Crimson Tide rolled the Gators, 38-10, Saturday night in an early-season matchup of Southeastern Conference heavyweights.
Richardson finished with his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, and the latest one should solidify his position as one the Heisman Trophy front-runners.
With Richardson leading the way, the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) extended its recent dominance in the series. Alabama has outscored Florida (4-1, 2-1), 101-29, in the last three meetings, all wins.
The latest one was over by halftime, a clear knockout in a game billed as Florida’s speed vs. Alabama’s power. It also denied new Florida Coach Will Muschamp a victory against his mentor, Alabama Coach Nick Saban.
If anything, it showed how far the Gators have to go to get back to championship form. It was Florida’s worst home loss since falling to Louisiana State, 36-7, in 2002.
It could get worse, too. The Gators play at top-ranked LSU next week.
Florida struck first Saturday, getting a 65-yard touchdown pass from John Brantley to Andre Debose on the game’s opening play. It ended up being one of few highlights for the Gators, who couldn’t run, couldn’t stop the run and lost Brantley to a right leg injury late in the second quarter.
Brantley, a senior who has started 18 consecutive games, twisted his knee and ankle during a sack just before halftime. He was helped to the locker room and did not return for the second half. Highly touted freshman Jeff Driskel replaced him to start the third quarter.
Brantley completed 11 of 16 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown, a perfectly thrown deep ball to Debose. But Alabama’s defense stiffened from there.
Courtney Upshaw intercepted Brantley’s short pass under duress and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown that changed the game in the second quarter. Upshaw later sacked Brantley and caused the injury.
Alabama was long in control by then, mostly because it stuffed Florida’s vaunted running game. The Tide made Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps look ordinary. The Gators entered the game averaging 259 yards a game on the ground, but they finished with 15 yards, four from Rainey and four from Demps.
The Tide was much more balanced.
AJ McCarron completed 12 of 25 passes for 140 yards, efficient and effective — just what Alabama needs with Richardson and a stout defense.
Florida and Alabama each scored on its first two possessions, a rousing start for the second-largest crowd (90,888) in the history of Florida Field.
The game turned, though, on Upshaw’s interception. As Brantley was being hit, he tried to dump a pass to Trey Burton. It landed in Upshaw’s arms. He rumbled 45 yards in the other direction, with a host of defenders making sure no one caught him from behind.
The Tide forced consecutive three-and-outs after that, then turned to Richardson to put the game away. The 224-pound junior from Pensacola took a screen pass on third and eight from the 30-yard line, broke a tackle and got Alabama near the goal line.
Linebacker Jon Bostic, clearly frustrated with Florida’s missed tackles and failure to stop Richardson, got a personal foul penalty on the next play. He took a swing at an offensive lineman, then got an earful from Muschamp.
McCarron sneaked across the goal line to make it 24-10.
Richardson turned the 14-point game into a rout with a 36-yard scamper early in the fourth. He darted up the middle, cut right hard enough to make safety Josh Evans trip and then went untouched the rest of the way.
Alabama’s defense swarmed Driskel the rest of the way, sacking him twice in three plays on one series and getting him so rattled that he fumbled a snap.
Eddie Lacy added a 20-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth that sent most Florida fans scampering for the exits.
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