3 takeaways from No. 1 Alabama's narrow win over No. 11 Florida
A missed extra point in the first half and failed two-point conversion in the second proved to be the difference-makers as the Crimson Tide escaped with a 31-29 triumph.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday's contest.
One game, two different stories
Saturday's matchup ended up looking like two separate games, with the first 15 minutes playing out drastically different from the final three quarters.
The afternoon got off to a terrible start for Florida, as Alabama stormed down the field for a touchdown on each of its opening three drives. The Gators only mustered a field goal in response, and the Crimson Tide took a 21-3 lead into the second quarter in the Swamp. While it sounds like Saban's outfit overwhelmed Florida, the Gators made it as easy as possible on their opponents with at least three missed tackles in space, two defensive pass interference penalties, and an interception.
The game's final 45 minutes flipped the script as Florida made some impressive adjustments and outscored Alabama 26-10 the rest of the way. Unfortunately, one has to be virtually perfect against the Crimson Tide to pull off a victory, and the poor start, along with the missed extra point and two-point convert, ended up being the Gators' downfall.
Bryce Young is unflappable
There's a reason Bryce Young is the Heisman Trophy favorite despite starting only three games in his collegiate career. The quarterback once again showed maturity beyond his years with three touchdown passes against the Gators. Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's endless blitzes didn't bother Young as he checked down to open receivers and regularly avoided the rush.
Young finished with 240 passing yards and pushed his season total to 10 touchdowns through the air. It's a good thing the California native was up to the task Saturday as the rushing attack struggled to move the ball against Florida. The Crimson Tide were held to less than 100 rushing yards for just the eighth time since 2010.
Dan Mullen showed his offensive brilliance
There aren't many offensive minds in football who are better than Dan Mullen at drawing up a game plan. Florida ranked No. 1 in the country in passing and 93rd in rushing last season when Kyle Trask was throwing to first-round picks Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney. With those three gone, Mullen has transformed the Gators' attack into the nation's best rushing offense through three games.
Led by Malik Davis, Florida piled up 245 rushing yards and moved the ball comfortably over the final three quarters. The stingy Tide defense has allowed just 0.6 rushing touchdowns per game since Saban returned to Alabama in 2007, but the Gators found the end zone four times on the ground Saturday. Quarterback Emory Jones showed he can be a legit passing and running threat with over 250 total yards.