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Opinion: Alabama’s aura of invincibility takes a hit in narrow escape at Florida

Opinion: Alabama’s aura of invincibility takes a hit in narrow escape at Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — They don’t make a better hype man in this part of the country than Tim Tebow.

If Florida Gators fans wished an extra shot with their Saturday morning daiquiri, the outdated-fashioned Heisman Trophy winner equipped it when he predicted No. 1 Alabama would wilt in “The Swamp.”

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“When folk explain up here, they don’t leave the same,” Tebow said here during a are living recording of “SEC Nation,” ahead of predicting, “Alabama is coming to catch a whuppin’.”

Blue and orange Gators flags flew from automobile windows as traffic rolled into Gainesville. The pregame tailgating scene on a hot, muggy day offered a dose of energy the excellent beach party can’t match.

The crowd noise inside one of faculty football’s most hostile road environments served as a reminder of what was missing from a 2020 season played amid pandemic-induced capacity limits.

Florida fans did their part, and the Gators nearly sent them dwelling jubilant.

No. 1 Alabama survived – barely.

An Alabama team that has been invincible for the past year showed indicators of mortality in a 31-29 white-knuckle victory over No. 9 Florida in entrance of a crowd of 90,877 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Whether or no longer the Crimson Tide will leave The Swamp the same is another set a question to.

“Crazy atmosphere,” Alabama quarterback Bryce Younger said. “Those fans have been really loud. We knew it was going to be a hostile setting coming in, and it lived up to it, for certain. … It was challenging, but I’m substantial proud of us.”

Alabama wide receiver Slade Bolden reacts after dropping a pass in the end zone at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) beat Florida (2-1, 0-1) for the eighth straight time. The Gators haven’t gained in this series since a 2008 SEC championship game victory while Tebow wore the uniform.

Florida’s performance during the final three quarters suggested that these teams may well meet in a December rematch in Atlanta, although Georgia will have a say about that.

This Alabama triumph was no laugher, although it initially appeared headed that way. Alabama led by 18 after the first quarter ahead of Florida began uncovering Crimson Tide soft spots.

When you happen to appeared easiest at the final stats, you can think Florida gained.

The Gators had a 439-324 advantage in total yards and a 26-19 edge in first downs.

Alabama had 11 penalties to Florida’s seven. 5 Alabama penalties have been crowd-induced (a delay of game and four false starts).

Escape from the Swamp: No. 1 Alabama hangs on by a hamstring to beat No. 9 Florida

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Florida played shorthanded, too. Sidelined have been linebacker Ventrell Miller (biceps injury), and freshman backup quarterback Anthony Richardson, who had dazzled in a two-quarterback machine during the first two weeks.

Richardson was in uniform, and the hamstring he injured last week held up smartly adequate during a pregame backflip. However Florida coach Dan Mullen informed CBS ahead of kickoff that he can be conventional easiest in an emergency.

Alabama hasn’t equipped a entire performance this season and couldn’t muster a first down during the 2d quarter.

Alabama coach Reduce Saban applauded his team’s resiliency but added that the game showed his players that they cannot let their intensity wane.

“I’m hopeful that our team can learn from this skills – learn learn how to give a enhance to,” Saban said.

Powerful of the conversation entering Saturday centered on which Florida quarterback would start – Emory Jones or Richardson. Perhaps extra of the attention ought to tranquil have been on Florida’s flooring game. The Gators befuddled Alabama’s defense with an array of possibility plays.

Alabama wished a fourth-quarter two-point conversion finish to escape unscathed. On that play, Jones took a very long time deciding whether or no longer to hand off or maintain the ball on a read-possibility.

Malik Davis finally got the handoff and was stopped a yard short of the goal.

“That was a lawful job by the defense, especially the guys up entrance,” Saban said.

Younger played beyond his years during the first quarter, when he achieved 12 of 16 passes with three touchdowns. His pass-catchers helped his cause by regularly evading tacklers.

Later in the game, Younger at instances appeared treasure a sophomore making his first moral road start.

He did barely adequate to emerge from The Swamp victorious. So did an Alabama team playing here for the first time since 2011.

However the longer this game went, the extra Florida appeared capable of fulfilling Tebow’s prediction, and the extra it appeared treasure Alabama has some vulnerabilities.

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for america TODAY Community. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and apply him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. 

Opinion: Alabama’s aura of invincibility takes a hit in narrow escape at Florida