No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1 SU, 3-8-1 ATS) vs. No. 17 Missouri Tigers (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS)
College Football Week 15
Date and Time: Saturday December 6th, 2014. 4:00PM EST
Where: Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -14.5/MIZZU +14.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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The most prestigious conference title in the land will be up for grabs this Saturday when the no. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide meet the no. 17 Missouri Tigers inside the Georgia Dome in the SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide survived a brutal schedule out of the SEC West and are one win away from representing the SEC in college footballs first playoffs. However, the Missouri Tigers are making their 2nd straight trip to the SEC Championship Game and will be trying to play the spoiler role when both teams meet this Saturday.
The Tigers have rather surprisingly won the SEC East in each of the last two seasons despite most of the attention going to some of the other schools in the East. However, Missouri has won the big games just as they did last week in a must-win scenario on the road at Arkansas. The Tigers overcame a 14 point deficit to win their 6th straight game and seal their bid to Atlanta. Last year Missouri stood toe to toe with Auburn for 3 quarters before the Tigers scored 14 unanswered 4th quarter points in a 59-42 victory. The Tigers were in a similar situation last year as heavy underdogs against a dynamic Auburn team. This year Missouri tries to finish the upset quest against top ranked Alabama.
However, the Crimson Tide are ranked number 1 for a reason as they are playing as good or better than any team in the country. Alabama took Auburns best shot last week in the Iron Bowl but the resilient Crimson Tide pulled out a 55-44 victory on the heels of an impressive offensive performance. The Crimson Tide defense has been the foundation of the teams success historically under Head Coach Nick Saban but this year the offense has been at the forefront of the success. Alabama is still stacked with talent on the defensive side of the football, but this season the offense has averaged 36.7 points per game as the 20th best scoring unit in the FBS.
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Quarterback Blake Sims and wide receiver Amari Cooper have taken the passing game to new heights this season. Despite a season high 3 interceptions early in the Auburn game, Sims battled back to throw for 312 yards with 4 touchdowns last week. Cooper tied his own school record with 224 receiving yards on 13 catches and 3 touchdowns. The deep threat in the passing game has been very effective to compliment the Alabama power rushing attack behind tailbacks T.J Yeldon and Derrick Henry who both have 8 touchdowns on the ground this season. Alabamas new found growth on the offensive side of the ball along with their typical strong defense is what has many experts believing we could be witnessing another Crimson Tide National Championship run.
Still, lets not forget that Alabama is far from unbeatable. Outside of the loss to Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide were also facing a loss late on the road at LSU and they were trailing Auburn by as much as 33-21 during the 2nd half of last weeks Iron Bowl. Therefore it would not be unfathomable to see Missouri contend in this football game if they play well. The Tigers have a very strong defense that has given up just 19 points per game this season (13th in FBS) but the bigger question is do they have enough firepower offensively to contend?
The Missouri offense on paper does not appear too convincing ranking 100th in passing, 57th in rushing, and 70th in scoring averaging just 28.6 points per game. Quarterback Maty Mauk is an experienced decision maker but has not had the best season completing just 53% passing with 23 scores and 11 interceptions. Mauk has the arm to make big throws but absolutely must avoid turnovers if Missouri is going to have a chance this Saturday. Tailbacks Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy have provided some consistency on the ground but I do not expect Missouris rushing attack will stack up well against Alabamas defense. Instead, Mauk will have to make some plays with his arm down the field for the Tigers to have a shot on Saturday.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: No disrespect to Missouri but they are in Atlanta due to a soft schedule from the West and a down year in the East. Alabama is too good on both sides of the ball and I do not expect this game to stay close for long. Take Alabama -14.5