Preview Notes: Alabama-Florida football game

Here are the official game notes from the University of Alabama: (courtesy of UA Media Relations)

GAME 5: Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC) vs. Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC) Saturday, October 1, 2011 • 7 p.m. • CBS Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548) • Gainesville, Fla.

THE GAME: No. 3/2 Alabama heads to Gainesville, Fla., for its first Southeastern Conference road test when it takes on the No. 12/12 Florida Gators on Saturday, October 1, in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It will be the 37th meeting between the two schools and 11th trip to Gainesville for the Crimson Tide. Florida is 4-0 on the season and 2-0 against SEC opponents following a 48-10 victory over Kentucky last week. The game will air on CBS with Verne Lundquist serving as the play-by-play announcer, and Gary Danielson at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.

HEAD COACH NICK SABAN: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his fifth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 42-11 record (47-11 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and one national championship. Saban holds a career record of 133-53-1 (138-53-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 11 of his 14 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is also the only active coach to win two BCS National Championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

RANKINGS: In the latest polls released on September 25, Alabama remains third in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 2 in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll, while Florida comes in at No. 12 in both polls.

FLORIDA SERIES: Alabama and Florida will be meeting for the 37th time this Saturday with the Crimson Tide holding a 21-14 (22-14 without NCAA vacation in 2005) edge in the series. Alabama and Florida are meeting in the regular season for the second time in as many seasons and for the first time in Gainesville since 2006. The two teams squared off in the 2008 and 2009 SEC Championships Games with UF winning in 2008 en route to a national championship and Alabama returning the favor with a 32-13 victory in 2009 in Atlanta before polishing off Texas in the BCS National Championship Game.

SERIES notes
ALABAMA-FLORIDA SERIES: Alabama holds a 21-14 (22-14 without NCAA rulings) series lead over Florida in a series that dates back in the Alabama record books to the 1916 season. The Crimson Tide and Gators will be meeting for the 37th time overall and second in as many seasons. The two teams squared off in the 2008 and 2009 SEC Championships Games with UF winning in 2008 en route to a national championship and Alabama returning the favor with a 32-13 victory in 2009 in Atlanta before polishing off Texas in the BCS National Championship Game. Alabama has earned SEC Championships with wins over Florida in 1992, 1999 and 2009. Florida beat Alabama in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 2008 for the SEC Championship. The last regular-season meeting between the Tide and Gators went in favor of Alabama, 31-6, on October 2, 2010, in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

SERIES RECORDS BY SITES: Alabama and Florida have met at six different sites since the first meeting in 1916. The Crimson Tide owns a 10-2 lead in games played in the state of Florida, including an 8-2 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.

SABAN VERSUS FLORIDA: Alabama head coach Nick Saban has a 4-4 record in his career against Florida, with five of the eight meetings coming while he was the head coach at LSU. Saban is 2-1 vs. Florida during his stint in Tuscaloosa. He compiled a 2-1 record against the Gators in Gainesville and a 0-2 record in Baton Rouge.

Saban vs. Florida
Oct. 7, 2000 Florida 41, LSU 9 L
Oct. 6, 2001 Florida 44, LSU 15 L
Oct. 12, 2002 LSU 36, Florida 7 W
Oct. 11, 2003 Florida 19, LSU 7 L
Oct. 9, 2004 LSU 24, Florida 21 W
Dec. 6, 2008 Florida 31, Alabama 20 L
Dec. 5, 2009 Alabama 32, Florida 13 W
Oct. 2, 2010 Alabama 31, Florida 6 W

NEXT GAME: Alabama returns home to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday, October 8, in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Vanderbilt is currently 3-1 overall and 1-1 in SEC play after suffering their first loss of the season last week by a score of 21-3 at South Carolina. The Crimson Tide leads the series with the Commodores 58-19-4 (60-18-4 before forfeited and vacated games). This will be the first meeting between the two since 2007 and 82nd meeting overall.

ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN SEPTEMBER: Alabama has been very successful in the opening month of the season under head coach Nick Saban. Now in his fifth season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide sports a 19-2 record in September following the win against North Texas. Since 2008, Alabama is a perfect 16-0 in September games.

RICHARDSON AND JONES HONORED BY THE SEC: Alabama junior running back Trent Richardson and junior offensive lineman Barrett Jones were named SEC Offensive Player of the Week and SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, respectively, following the Crimson Tide’s 38-14 victory over Arkansas on September 24. Richardson rushed for a game-high 126 yards on 17 carries, marking his third-straight 100-yard game, and also caught three passes for a game-best 85 yards. Jones received the highest grade on the Alabama offensive line and helped lead a balanced Tide attack that led to 197 rushing yards and 200 passing yards.

Defensive notes
DEFENSE MAKES A STATEMENT: Alabama’s defense entered the season as one of the more impressive units on paper in the country, and Kirby Smart’s bunch quickly proved they know how to make it translate to the field. Through four games, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to an average of 184.0 total yards of offense, ranking Alabama second in the nation in total defense. The Tide also ranks in the top three in the remaining defensive categories, including pass efficiency (second – 74.70 passer efficiency rating), scoring defense (second – 8.00 ppg), rushing defense (45.75 ypg) and pass defense (third – 138-25 ypg). Those marks lead the SEC in each category.

YARDS AT A PREMIUM: The Alabama defense is only allowing an average of 184 yards per game entering this week’s SEC road opener at Florida, which ranks third nationally and leads the SEC. The Tide is also surrendering only 2.82 yards per play, which leads the nation. UA opponents have run 261 plays against the Crimson Tide defense this season and only managed 67 plays – both running and passing – that went for more than five yards, which accounts for just 25.7 percent. On the flip side of that, the Alabama offense has seen 47.9 percent of its plays go for more than five yards (127-of-265). The Tide defense has also given up just 25 plays (9.6 percent) of more than 10 yards and 12 plays of more than 15 yards (4.6 percent)

ALABAMA TERRITORY PROTECTED GROUND: Crossing midfield against the Crimson Tide defense has not been an easy task in the first four games of the 2011 season. Alabama opponents have driven across the 50-yard line just 13 times (only counts drives that started in Alabama territory), but of those 13 drives that moved into Alabama territory, the opponent got passed the UA 40-yard line only seven times. Of those 13 drives, opponents have managed just 24 points (three touchdown one field goal). Alabama has forced interceptions on three of those drives and punts two other times. The Tide has also blocked one field goal, forced two turnovers on downs once and recovered a fumble.

STOUT DEFENSIVE OUTING: The Alabama defense once again turned in a strong defensive effort in the conference-opening win over Arkansas. The Crimson Tide held the Hogs to 226 total yards (17 rushing, 209 passing) on last Saturday. The 17 rushing yards was the lowest total for the Hogs in series history. In Saban’s 58-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 33 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 yard (Kent State – 90 yards; North Texas – 169 yards).

Special teams notes
MAZE WEAVES HIS WAY TO AN 83-YARD PUNT RETURN FOR A TD: Alabama senior punt returner Marquis Maze took the first Crimson Tide opportunity of the second half against Arkansas for a touchdown on an 83-yard punt return. The punt return for a touchdown is the first of his career and the longest return of his career. The punt return was the first for a touchdown for Alabama since Javier Arenas found the end zone against Chattanooga on Nov. 21, 2009. The return also marked the 10th longest return for a touchdown in Alabama history.