When Will Muschamp was defensive coordinator at Texas, he may have noticed a sophomore linebacker recovering a fumble that sealed Alabama’s victory over the Longhorns in the 2009 BCS Championship Game. That linebacker, Courtney Upshaw, haunted Muschamp again Saturday night in Gainesville, where Muschamp is head coach of the Gators.
Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw, now a senior, had a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second period of the Crimson Tide’s 38-10 win over Florida. was Alabama's second interception return of the 2011 season, and the second in two weeks along with DeQuan Menzie's 25-yard interception return for a score last week against Arkansas.
The score was Alabama's third non-offensive touchdown of 2011 and the 23rd overall since the Nick Saban Era began in 2007. Since Saban took over as Bama head coach, the Crimson Tide has garnered 23 non-offensive touchdowns including 10 interception returns, 7 punt returns, 3 kickoff returns, 2 fumble returns and 1 blocked punt return for a touchdown.
Upshaw intercepted his first career pass and took it 45 yards to give Alabama a 17-10 lead at the 12:57 mark in the second quarter. The touchdown is the second for Upshaw for his career as he took a fumble 45 yards to paydirt at Kentucky (Oct. 3, 2009).
Upshaw led the Crimson Tide defense on Saturday. Upshaw intercepted a pass for a touchdown, totaled 4 tackles, including 3 for a losses of 21 yards and a sack for a loss of 10 yards.
With the win over Florida, Alabama is 17-5 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons and 9-3 against AP top 10 teams. Alabama went 5-3 against the AP Top 25 last season.
With the win over Florida, Alabama has won 41 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is the second-most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009 and a 10-3 mark in 2010. Alabama is one win back of Boise State, with 42 wins. The Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.
Alabama’s win over Florida continued a trend of road success by the Crimson Tide in recent seasons. Including the win over the Gators, Alabama has a 13-2 mark in true road games since 2008. The Tide posted a 3-2 mark last season on the heels of identical 4-0 records in 2008 and 2009. Alabama has outscored its opponents 459-234 over that span. In all games away from Tuscaloosa since 2008, Alabama is 17-4, including a 9-4 mark against ranked opponents.
Alabama has been very successful in the second month of the season under Coach Nick Saban. Now in his fifth season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide sports a 14-1 record in October. Over that span the Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 376-208 and is 5-1 against ranked opponents. The only October loss under Saban was at No. 19 South Carolina on Oct. 9, 2010. The loss against the Gamecocks broke an 11-game winning streak. Alabama has won its last three games in October since that loss.
The Crimson Tide is 43-3 when leading at halftime under Saban.
Alabama put an emphasis on finishing strong in 2011. That emphasis has paid dividends so far with an impressive edge in the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide has outscored its five opponents – including three top-25 teams – by a margin of 45-8 in the fourth quarter while out-gaining its opposition 639 yards to just 59 yards on the ground, a difference of 580 yards.
The Alabama defense once again turned in a strong defensive effort in the win over Florida. The Crimson Tide held the Gators to 222 total yards (15 rushing, 207 passing) on Saturday night. The 15 rushing yards was the lowest total for the Gators in series history. In Saban’s 59-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 34 times, or 57 percent of the time. The Tide has not allowed more than 251 yards (Penn State) in a single game this season and has twice limited the opponent to less than 200 yards (Kent State – 90 yards; North Texas – 169 yards).
Alabama held Florida to just 10 points Saturday night. Under Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or less 27 times including three times in five games this season. Last season Alabama held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that mark seven times in 2009 and 2008. In 2007, the Tide posted two games in which it held opponents to that mark. Since 2007, Alabama has held opponents to 10 points or less 26 times and less than a touchdown 12 times.
Alabama allowed 10 points in the first half of the Florida game, snapping a nine-game streak of allowing seven points or less in the first half. The Crimson Tide had surrendered three points or less six times over that span, including three first half shutouts.
Keeping opposing running backs under 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered just nine individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season (84 games), a mark that ranks second nationally behind Boston College. Since Saban arrived in 2007 (59 games), Alabama has allowed four players to rush for 100 yards in a game: Tennessee’s Tauren Poole (117 yards), Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 yards), Houston’s Anthony Alridge (100 yards) and Arkansas’ Darren McFadden (195 yards).
Alabama held Florida to 15 rushing yards on 29 carries in the victory tonight. In Saban’s 59-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 100 rushing yards 36 times, or 60 per cent of the time. The 15 yards on the ground by Florida marks the fourth time this season the opposition has been held under 100 yards.
Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson had a career game against Florida. Richardson set a single-game best with 181 yards on the strength of a career-high 29 carries. His previous best came this season against North Texas (Sept. 17) when he ran for 167 yards on 11 carries.
The 181 yards is the most by an Alabama back against Florida in the series history, surpassing Billy Jackson’s 147 yards against the Gators in 1978.
Richardson recorded his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game in the SEC road matchup at Florida. He is in the top 20 on the Alabama career rushing yard list with 2,073 yards to rank 14th in Alabama history. Richardson leads the Crimson Tide with 622 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns (11 total touchdowns). Richardson is the 16th Alabama back to surpass 2,000 yards rushing in a career.
Richardson has been scoring touchdowns at an impressive rate to start the 2011 season. In just five games, Richardson has found the end zone 11 times. Richardson opened the year with three touchdowns against Kent State and followed that up with two more at Penn State. Richardson scored three touchdowns for Alabama against North Texas and added another against Arkansas. With the two scores against Florida, Richardson pushes his career total to 24 touchdowns on the ground and 30 overall. The 30 touchdowns (24 rush, 5 rec., 1 ret.) ranks tied for fifth with Bobby Marlow (1950-52) on the Alabama career list. Shaun Alexander is the all-time leader at Alabama with 50 career touchdowns.
Richardson has rushed for over 100 yards in the past four games, turning in a two-touchdown, 111-yard outing at Happy Valley against Penn State followed by a 167-yard, three-touchdown performance against North Texas and a 126-yard effort vs. Arkansas. He totaled 181 yards and two touchdowns at Florida on Saturday. Richardson also went over the century mark at Tennessee in 2010 (119 yards), vs. Penn State in 2010 (144 yards), vs. Florida International in 2009 (118 yards) and against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game.
For the third time this season Alabama scored on its first possession with the Jeremy Shelley 32-yard field goal. The only game thus far in 2011 the Crimson Tide has not scored on its first possession was at Penn State on Sept. 10. Alabama opened the season with a touchdown against Kent State (Sept. 4), kicked a field goal against North Texas (Sept. 18) and scored a touchdown against Arkansas (Sept. 24).
Thirty-one times in 29 different games Alabama has had rushers exceed 100 yards and the Tide has had 15 100-yard receivers in 15 games since head coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Former running back Mark Ingram recorded 12 100-yard rushing games during his career, while junior Trent Richardson has eight 100-yard rushing efforts and sophomore Eddie Lacy has produced two. Under Saban, Alabama has gone 28-1 in those 29 games that produced a 100-yard rusher. Marquis Maze (1) and Trent Richardson (1) are the only current players with a 100-yard receiving games.
Alabama and Florida met for the 37th time Saturday. With the win, the
Crimson Tide holds a 22-14 (23-14 without NCAA vacation in 2005) edge in the series.
Alabama and Florida have met at six different sites since the first meeting in 1916. The Crimson Tide owns a 11-2 lead in games played in the state of Florida, including an 9-2 mark in Gainesville. Florida’s only wins against Alabama in Gainesville came in 1991 (35-0) and 2006 (28-13). Alabama and Florida have played 19 times in the state of Alabama, where the Tide holds a slight 10-9 advantage as well as a 6-5 mark in Tuscaloosa. UF won three of the five meetings played at Legion Field in Birmingham. Alabama won two of the three games contested in Montgomery. Florida has won three of the five SEC Championship games played in Atlanta.
Instead of using Richardson on kickoff returns, wide receivers Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze did the honors.
Florida quarterback John Brantley was injured late in the first half and was replaced by freshman Jeff Driskel. Brantley’s injury was described only as a “leg injury.”
When Florida’s Caleb Sturgis missed a 52-yard field goal attempt at the end of the second quarter, it broke his streak of 13 consecutive made field goals going back to last year. He had made 11 in a row this season.
It took awhile to get the game started. Both teams were guilty of penalties on the opening kickoff to Florida. On the re-kick, Alabama kicked off out of bounds.
Early in the second half, Alabama and Florida also had off-setting penalties on a punt.
Florida coaches are certainly aware of the punt returning ability of Maze and did not punt to him. Gators punter David Lerner kicked rugby style away from Maze.
Captains for Alabama were tailback Trent Richardson, safety Mark Barron, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and offensive lineman Barrett Jones.
Attendance was 90,888, second highest in Florida history.