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Croyle throws three TDs, 'Bama improves to 5-0

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama produced everything from long
touchdown passes to a goal line stand in its biggest game in nearly
6 years.

Then, the Crimson Tide players wondered why people seemed so
surprised at their 31-3 rout of No. 5 Florida on Saturday.

"This is exactly where we thought we'd be," quarterback Brodie
Croyle said.

Few others were expecting such a dominant performance from No.
15 Alabama (5-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference), which proclaimed
itself perhaps the league's team to beat with the victory.

Croyle threw for three TDs, including an 87-yarder to Tyrone
Prothro and a 65-yarder to Keith Brown, and the defense was even
more impressive in shutting down Urban Meyer's offense.

A Meyer-coached team had never been held without a touchdown,
and the Gators (4-1, 2-1) hadn't been kept out of the end zone
since 1992.

"Tell him not to feel so bad, because he played a very good
defense," Tide defensive back Charlie Peprah said.

Alabama, which had lost its last five games against top-five
teams at Bryant-Denny Stadium, got its biggest win since a 34-7
victory over Florida in the 1999 SEC championship game. Tide fans,
who had been hungry for just such a victory, mostly remained in the
stands well after the game's conclusion, celebrating as the players
lingered on the field.

"That's all we talked about all week, that we could make
history," said Croyle, who was 15-for-18 for 286 yards.

The Gators had the league's top defense overall and against the
pass, but left having failed to even slow down Croyle when it
counted.

Coming into the game, Croyle hadn't completed a pass longer than
52 yards all season.

"We are a man-coverage team and we were exposed," Meyer said.
"We lost a lot of one-on-one battles. They are a very fast team.
They looked a lot faster than we did today."

Chris Leak, meanwhile, was harassed into a 5-of-16 performance
in the first half and his first two interceptions of the season,
leaving him three passes shy of Danny Wuerffel's school record
streak of 121 without a pick.

It was the Gators' worst defeat since losing 36-7 to LSU in 2002
and ended Meyer's personal 20-game winning streak at Utah and
Florida.

"Our back was against the wall the whole game," defensive end
Jeremy Mincey said. "They took advantage of that. They're a
talented team but we could have and should have won."

There was one downer for Alabama on its best day under coach
Mike Shula.

Prothro was carted off the field with a splint on his lower left
leg after landing awkwardly trying to catch a fourth-down pass in
the end zone in the fourth quarter. Shula said the do-it-all
receiver broke his leg in two places and was likely out for the
season.

"There were a lot of questions about how we could match up
against a talented team," Shula said. "Hopefully we answered some
of those."

The Gators trailed 24-3 at halftime and couldn't capitalize on
Alabama's one big mistake.

Prothro fumbled away the punt after Alabama's defense pinned
Florida at its own 7 on the opening drive. After the Gators again
failed to gain a yard before punting, Croyle hit Prothro in stride
just across midfield for the long touchdown on the next play.

It was just the beginning. Alabama's defense set up another TD
when Chris Harris intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 14
yards to Florida's 2. The Tide added Croyle's 65-yarder to Keith
Brown midway through the second quarter on a slant pattern.

Meyer said his team "crumbled early" and never recovered.

"There is a big difference between being ready and being
prepared," he said. "And we got beat by a team that was better
prepared."

Florida's biggest play of the half: Earl Everett's 32-yard run
on a fake punt, with little else working. Freddie Roach upended
DeShawn Wynn at the goal line on fourth down to open the second
quarter and end that threat, the first of several that fell short
of the end zone.

"We knew we had to bow our legs on the goal line and make a
stand," Tide linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "We couldn't let them
in the end zone. We knew he was going to get the ball."

Leak finished 16 of 37 for 187 yards with a second interception
early in the fourth quarter. His first four series, he couldn't
complete any of his five passes with an interception and a fumble
recovered by a teammate while Alabama applied constant pressure.

Wynn ran for 47 yards on 12 carries.

Prothro caught five passes for 134 yards and added a 15-yard
touchdown in the third. Kenneth Darby rushed 15 times for 101 yards
for the Tide.

Croyle broke Alabama's career record held by Andrew Zow and
current coach Mike Shula's career record of 35 touchdown passes
with his 15-yarder to Prothro in the third quarter.