Alabama -16 1⁄2 vs. Florida
The one you’ve been waiting on: the SEC Championship game.
There will be haymakers early and several mismatches exploited. Mullen loves to get backs into space, and Kyle Pitts will be a mismatch against most people on the field. While Florida is ripe to be plucked along both lines, giving up huge plays on both sides of the ball (and when was the last time you saw a Florida defense this bad? It’s historically so — especially for an SEC contender, even given last year’s woeful LSU squad).
So, this game will come down to a few things:
- The ability of defenses to regroup. Alabama has been simply outstanding doing so this year in the second half. Coaching by committee (and there is a lot of talent on the Alabama coaching staff), has been stellar for the Tide this season. Florida has been anticlutch, blowing lead after lead, failing to adjust in the secondary, and generally playing disinterested defense, particularly on 3rd down — and I remind you, Alabama leads the nation in 3rd down conversion %, first downs, is 2nd in scoring PPG, and is 1st in MOV. That is adjustment.
- Winning the lines. Alabama’s run D has been a bit soft up front this season, but this Gator team simply cannot run...and nor does it particularly want to. Their pass rush similarly anemic, and the interior can be had provided you can keep UF from crowding the box. This passing game can do just that. Alabama’s OL is a mismatch against every team in the nation. That will be glaringly obvious today.
- Minimizing mistakes. Alabama is 8th in the nation in turnover margin, while Kyle Trask has been...generous with the ball, particularly against teams with winning records. UF averages .8 more turnovers per game than the Tide — add 5.7 points to the Alabama scoreboard for that alone.
- Outages. Are we sure Kyle Pitts is actually healthy? And, even if so, after being out for a month, is he in game condition? I’m not sold, honestly. As for Alabama, the loss of Christian Harris (and I am assuming he will be out or will be a shell of himself), hurts the Tide. That absence costs UA a full touchdown. But, absences giveth, and they taketh away. The best thing that has happened to the Tide is the first half absence of Daniel Wright. When there is a bust in coverage, a blown assignment, a missed tackle, No. 3 is almost always the culprit. However, Alabama simply has no option than to play the steady if not spectacular Demarrco Hellams. Hellams is the better tackler, he is the better player in coverage, and he communicates better with his teammates — taking far fewer risks. His presence in the lineup is worth that touchdown back.
This is on pace to be the best offense in college football history — through 10 games, it already is. There may be a defense out there that can slow it down, but this Florida team isn’t one of them. The playoffs for all intents and purposes begin today, and you shall see what the Tide’s strategy is for the next trio of games. Realize that you will take shots early, adjust at halftime, lean on a transcendent offense, don’t take your foot off the gas against dangerous teams.
If Sarkisian’s head is in the game, despite rumors that he and Auburn are flirting, and if the Tide can remain healthy and follow the script they have all year, then this turns into a laugher down the stretch — though Cousin Eddie will try and gussy up the scoreboard as he is wont to do.
Alabama 54 Florida 27