Alabama Crimson Tide at Florida Gators (+4, 45)
THE STORY: The next two weeks will go a long way toward determining the relative success of Will Muschamp's first season as Florida coach - and the pecking order atop the Southeastern Conference. The 12th-ranked Gators face the first of back-to-back games against national title contenders as No. 2 Alabama travels to Gainesville, Fla. Both teams average more than 450 yards per game of total offense, but both also rank in the top five in the nation in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense. Alabama leads the series 22-14, but one of those wins from 2005 was vacated.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE MOVES: Alabama opened as high as a 5-point road favorite, but money on the home side moved the spread as low as a field goal before buyback on the Crimson Tide pushed the line back to -4. As for the total, the number posted at 45 and has been bet down to 44.5.
ABOUT ALABAMA (4-0, 1-0 SEC, 3-1 ATS): The Crimson Tide already have two wins against ranked opponents, including a road win at Penn State. The defense flexed its muscles in a 38-14 victory against Arkansas last week as the nation's No. 3 defense (184 yards allowed per game) shut down the Razorbacks' high-powered offense. Junior running back Trent Richardson continues to anchor the offense, earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 126 yards and catching three passes for 85 yards and a touchdown against North Texas. Richardson has more than 100 yards rushing in three consecutive games.
ABOUT FLORIDA (4-0, 2-0 SEC, 3-0-1 ATS): The Gators are off to a 4-0 start for the third consecutive season after a 48-10 victory at Kentucky, but they have yet to face a ranked opponent. The duo of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps has rolled up big rushing numbers (731 yards, six touchdowns) through four games, but the Gators haven't faced a run defense such as Alabama's, which ranks third in the nation with 45.8 rushing yards allowed per game. The Gators also have a steady foot to count on as kicker Caleb Sturgis is 11-for-11 on field goals this season and has made 13 consecutive field-goal attempts dating back to last season.
1. In Saban's 58-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide have allowed less than 300 yards of total offense 33 times. Alabama has held opponents to 10 points or less 26 times under Saban.
2. Muschamp, who coached on Saban's staff at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins, is the sixth Florida coach to begin his career with the Gators with four straight wins. Only three of those coaches also have won their fifth game (Steve Spurrier, 1990; Charles Bachman, 1928; Galen Hall, 1984).
3. Alabama is 19-2 in September under Saban, including 16-0 since 2008.
* Crimson Tide are 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine meetings.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Underdog is 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine meetings.
PREDICTION: Alabama 28, Florida 20 - Florida's offense has been explosive against lesser opponents, but the Gators won't be able to break as many big plays against Alabama's stiff defense.