Top-ranked Alabama’s yearly championship hopes were almost seriously compromised in the second game of the college football season.
Bama jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the first quarter behind three touchdown passes by sophomore Bryce Young, but they were outscored 26-10 the rest of the way by the No. 11 Florida Gators.
Bryce Young throws three TD's in just the first quarter 🤯 pic.twitter.com/BEOJEIHcp1
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 18, 2021
A Bama defense which showed some vulnerability most of the day made a stop on a potential game-tying two-point conversion with just over 3 minutes left to escape the Gator-infested “Swamp” with a 31-29 win.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) September 19, 2021
It was the Crimson Tide’s eighth consecutive win in the rivalry. College football’s supreme franchise hasn’t lost to the Gators since Tim Tebow was running and gunning in Gainesville and beat Alabama in the 2008 SEC Championship game.
The last time Florida beat Alabama was with Tim Tebow in the 2008 SEC Championship game.
Does that streak end today?
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 18, 2021
Bruce Young Comes Through
A feisty Florida team was Young’s first game in a hostile environment as the quarterback of the Tide.
Bama’s “Million Dollar Man” asserted himself nicely, going 22 of 35 for 240 yards and those three first-quarter touchdowns. But it was the poise and moxie Young displayed in big moments that had folks talking.
Bryce Young threw his 10th touchdown pass of the season in the first half of Saturday's game against Florida.
Young joins just Mac Jones as the only two Alabama QBs in history to throw 10 TDs in their first three games of the season.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 18, 2021
His improvising and playmaking was reminiscent of the great Russell Wilson. His innate ability to keep his eyes downfield and make accurate throws amidst a ferocious and aggressive pass rush is why Young was the top-ranked quarterback in the nation in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
Overcoming these kinds of challenges show how valuable a quarterback is. On a day when the highly-touted Alabama defense uncharacteristically gave up a 99-yard touchdown drive and was continuously gashed in the run game, Young and the offense bailed them out.
Florida Is The Truth
The Gators also showed they’re no pushovers despite having lost quarterback Kyle Trask, tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receiver Kadarius Toney to the 2021 NFL draft.
Head coach Dan Mullen devised a game plan that utilized the quarterback run game, opened up other options and kept the Crimson Tide’s defense off balance.
Gator quarterback Emory Jones struggled in the opening quarter, but he was pretty good the rest of the way with this arm and legs. He accounted for 261 total yards (181 passing and 80 rushing).
Saban Unhappy With Defense
Alabama head coach Nick Saban wasn’t too pleased with the defensive effort by his team. He let it be known during the postgame presser in true Saban fashion.
“What concerned me most is we couldn’t maintain our intensity, especially on defense, we had a lot of mental errors. All in all it was just our execution on defense and the fact that we couldn’t get off the field on third down.”
Saban was proud of his team’s overall effort and called it an “outstanding win” in “a tough environment to play in.”
“Our players showed a lot of resiliency in the game” Saban told reporters, complimenting his team, which escaped what would have been a devastating loss for a program whose only motto is “Championship Or Bust.”