Well that was thoroughly delightful. Our beloved Alabama Crimson Tide completely dismantled the premier conference opponent in a manner that sends sportswriters scrambling for their thesaurus to describe. There might be specific complaints with the play but nobody has much question about the outcome (well, almost nobody).
If revenge is a dish best served cold, the Florida Gators needed a bigger refrigerator.
Alabama apparently does not want any thoughtful dialogue on the national championship race. The Crimson Tide wants to end the discussion on half of the national championship matchup in January and make itself the plain choice for the title game against any of a half-dozen challengers who all look like underdogs.
They're not rivals, they're not equals and they're not friends, and the next time the schedule sends Urban Meyer to Bryant-Denny Stadium, his own personal house of horrors, the Florida coach might want to plan another sabbatical. The last time they met, they rushed Meyer to the hospital later that night. They should rush him back to the drawing board this time.
Alabama took the biggest step in its quest to "leave no doubt" about the No. 1 team in the country, efficiently turning the most hyped game of the regular season into an even more lopsided route than last December's winner-take-all SEC Championship Game. One of the themes coming into the season was the lack of an obvious, dominant frontrunner for the BCS Championship. For now, that position has hereby been filled.
Oh so much more after the jump...
The Tide might not be quite as invincible as they look. If Florida plays a little bit better, this is a lot closer to the three- to seven-point win with both teams in the 20s that most people predicted. Alabama is still by far the favorite to win the conference, but they're not going to be able to do so on auto-pilot.
There may be a rematch of this game at the SEC championship in December, but the result isn't going to change. Alabama is simply better than Florida... Yes, Florida is young, and yes, Florida will get better. But right now to call the Gators a title contending team is a joke. Hell, even calling the Gators a top-10 team might be a joke.
Alabama is a fine-tuned machine right now, imposing its will on offense, becoming scarier by the week defensively. Even with a modest effort from Heisman winner Mark Ingram (12 carries, 47 yards) and despite a largely listless second half offensively (just 71 yards and five first downs), the Tide were never in danger.
This is the Alabama everyone feared Nick Saban would build. Whine about oversigning if you want. Complain about how bloodless Saban can seem if it makes you feel better. But don't dispute this: Alabama is the best team in college football right now, and a team that can turn a squad full of fleet five-star recruits into mincemeat despite all but forgetting about the accelerator in the second half.
UF was little match for Alabama, which took a quick 24-0 lead in the first half with scores on its first four possessions. Winners of 30 of its past 32 games entering Saturday, the Gators looked like a completely different team than the confident powerhouses that dominated the SEC during the Tim Tebow years.
The scores were almost identical. It was 31-3 five years ago. It was 31-6 Saturday night. This was different from 2005 in that Florida could move the ball. It was not different in that Florida crumpled under a Crimson snowball in the first half. That team didn't fight back. This one did.
For the past 25 months, the prevailing theme in the Southeastern Conference has been Alabama and Florida on one level and everyone else down below. After the Beatdown in T-Town, the upper echelon has been cut in half. It's Alabama alone, and everyone else down below. In fact, this is a one-team nation. This is a one-team league at the top.
How Alabama destroyed Florida Saturday night inside Bryant-Denny Stadium wasn't a fluke. It was an inevitability. he best team in the nation by a bunch was just destined to do the wonderfully cruel things it did in a 31-6 victory to an overrated Florida bunch -- but still one with considerable talent, ranked seventh overall and only a 21 months removed from a national championship.
Strap it on, everyone. Alabama isn’t giving up this belt for a while. The team that plays bigger and better when the lights are brightest proved last year’s whipping of Florida wasn’t an aberration and wasn’t because Florida wasn’t ready. It was what it was: a physically dominating performance on the heels of last year’s overwhelming win in the SEC championship game.
Nick is No. 1, and every reasonable antagonist from Gainesville to Boise would have to admit it. Urban is way back with the masses. An experience like Saturday night was not what he un-retired for. He came back to return to the top, which means he must return to beating Nick. There is a lot of reloading to do. Nick had 24 points by halftime. Urban had three.
October in Tuscaloosa is probably something Florida would be wise to try and avoid in the future.... The two trips to Tuscaloosa also mark the only times since Meyer became the Gators' head coach in which Florida (4-1) has not scored a touchdown in a game.
When the latest edition of the super heavyweight rivalry between Alabama and Florida was over, the two star coaches met at midfield for a handshake, a pat on the back and a few quick words. They didn't need to say much. Maybe Alabama's Nick Saban and Florida's Urban Meyer will meet again this season, but for now there is no question who the King of the Southeastern Conference is. This game was all Alabama.
The pregame excitement was gone by the end of the first quarter, and the Gators were left with what they brought to Alabama: an inexperienced team (42 percent of Florida’s roster are freshmen), a struggling offense and an untested defense. If last year’s meeting was embarrassing for Florida fans, this season’s 31-6 loss was depressing.
Not only did Saban’s team affirm being worthy of a No. 1 ranking, it exposed the talented Florida Gators as a unit without enough poise to succeed on a big-game stage. In a result eerily similar to UF’s last visit to Tuscaloosa in 2005, the seventh-ranked Gators were overwhelmed in the first half and never recovered.
The championship belt belongs to Alabama. Is there anybody tough enough to wrestle it from the orneriest coach in America, Nick Saban of the Crimson Tide? I doubt it. He's one mean, nasty son of a Bear. When the dust settled and the blood dried after the first big smackdown Saturday of this college football season, one thing was as obvious as Alabama's 31-6 stomping of Florida. Everybody else is playing for second place.
Florida tried to be bold — tried to take the fight to Alabama by rolling the dice early. Instead, Andalusia’s Nico Johnson took away the pass in the end zone and stuck a dagger right through the Gators’ rough skin.
WAHHH!!! Saban! WAAHH!! Dolphins! WAAAAAHHH!!