No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0 SU, 8-3 ATS) vs. No. 15 Florida Gators (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS)
College Football SEC Championship Game
Date/Time: Saturday December 3rd, 2016. 4:00PM (EST)
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -24/FLA +24
Over/Under Total: 40
Perhaps the most prestigious conference champion in college football will be crowned this weekend when the no. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide meet the no. 15 Florida Gators inside the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship. Of course the SEC has not been as competitive this season as compared to previous years. Alabama has been the clear frontrunner in the conference and the entire FBS for that matter all season whereas Florida is the next closest top tier opponent with 3 losses on the season. As a result, the Crimson Tide will be rather huge 24 point favorites when the two teams collide inside the Georgia Dome on Saturday.
The 2016 SEC Championship Game will feature two of the best defenses in college football. Alabama has taken over as the number 1 ranked defense in the country surpassing Michigan in recent weeks. However, I have said all year that Alabamas defense is the best in the country. They currently rank number 1 in total defense, 1st in scoring defense, and have produced the most defensive touchdowns as any team in America. However, Florida is not too far off those inspiring defensive stats. The Gators rank 6th in total defense, 5th in scoring, and are tied with Alabama with 21 turnovers forced on the season. Therefore, there is a reason this is the lowest total (40) of all the championship games that will be played this weekend.
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The big difference that makes up the 24 point spread in this game is the play of the offense. Florida has struggled significantly moving the football averaging just 14.75 points over their last 4 games. The quarterback play has been pretty bad all year. Some may point out the fact that backup quarterback Austin Appleby is to blame for the lack of offense in recent weeks since former starter Luke Del Rio was lost for the year. However, Florida quarterbacks have combined to complete just 58% passing on the season with 14 touchdowns and 10 picks. Appleby has accounted for 6 touchdowns and just 2 picks to put things into perspective.
The Gators have never been the strongest of passing teams in recent years as they have typically relied on defense with a strong running game to control their outcomes. However, Florida has not even run the ball well this season averaging just 141 yards per game on the ground which ranks 104th in the FBS. Sophomore running back Jordan Scarlett leads the Gators offense with 778 yards on the ground with 6 scores. However, he has been contained to just 112 yards combined in the Gators 3 losses this season. When Florida has not been able to run the ball, they have simply not moved the football and that is the main concern this Saturday against an Alabama defense that is by far the best run defense in America yielding just 2.2 yards per attempt.
On the other side of the ball, Alabama has had a lot more success with their offense. The Crimson Tide offense is loaded with play makers starting with freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts has completed 65% passing this year resulting in 2,454 passing yards with 21 scores and 9 picks. Hurts also ranks 2nd on the team in rushing with 840 yards and another 12 touchdowns on the ground. As seen on several occasions this year, this offense gets going with their quarterback so if Florida is going to have a chance in thwarting this offense they will have to shut down Hurts while forcing a few turnovers. Alabama has all the weapons around Hurts with running back Damien Harris along with receivers ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley. However, Hurts remains the key to this Alabama offense and the key to this outcome on Saturday.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Alabama has been one of the best money makers in the country this season going 8-3 ATS. I think their defense will be extremely dominant on Saturday similar to the way they matched up against LSU. The problem is if Florida responds and plays up to their potential; the 24 point spread becomes harder to reach. Therefore, I like the under 40 as the best play here. Good luck!
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