University of Alabama quarterback Blake Sims threw for 445 yards and four touchdowns, including 10 passes for 201 yards and two scores to receiver Amari Cooper, to lead the No. 2/3 Crimson Tide (4-0 overall; 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference) to a 42-21 win over Florida (2-1; 1-1) Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In front of a sellout crowd of 101,821, Alabama overcame several miscues to rack up a methodical yet impressive victory in its Southeastern Conference opener.
Sims completed 23 of 33 passes on the afternoon and his 445 yards through the air ranks second on the Alabama single-game passing yards list behind Scott Hunter’s 484-yard performance against Auburn in 1969. Sims passed for 335 yards and three scores in the first half, including an 87-yard touchdown pass on the Tide’s first offensive play. The first-half yardage ranks second in Alabama history for passing yards in a half behind Greg McElroy’s 339-yard first half outing against Auburn in 2010.
Cooper continued his incredible start to the season with 10 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns, including a 79-yard catch that erased an early 14-7 deficit, on the way to his school-record sixth consecutive outing of 100 or more receiving yards. The Alabama offense eclipsed the 500-yard mark for the fifth consecutive game, racking up 645 total yards (449 passing, 196 rushing) and surpassed 600 yards for the second time this season. Derrick Henry rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
In addition to converting 12 of 16 third downs into first downs, Alabama averaged 7.4 yards per play on 87 snaps, racking up a huge advantage in time of possession (39:16 to 20:44) over the overworked Gator defense. Meanwhile, the Tide defense held the Gators to 200 total yards in the game (107 rushing, 93 passing) and just 2 of 13 conversions on third downs. Alabama won despite losing four turnovers (three fumbles, one interception) in the game.
The Alabama defense held Florida to 200 total yards and was led by linebacker Reggie Ragland’s eight tackles. Linebacker Trey DePriest had seven tackles and a fumble recovery while safety Landon Collins had five tackles, intercepted a pass and broke up two passes. The Tide harried Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel into a 9-for-28 passing performance for 93 yards with two interceptions and two touchdowns.