No. 1 Florida Gators (12-0, 5-5-1 ATS) vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0, 7-4 ATS) Georgia Dome Atlanta, G.A Saturday December 5th, 4:00PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Florida -5/Alabama +4
The epic battle of the year takes place this Saturday when the number 1 and 2 teams in America collide in the Georgia Dome with the SEC Championship up for grabs. The defending National Champions in the Florida Gators clash with the Alabama Crimson Tide for the second straight year as the top two teams in the country. However, the Gators will be the top ranked team this time around and Alabama will be trying to reclaim the top spot. Last year, Florida took down a top ranked Alabama team 31-20 and went on to claim a National Title.
In a similar situation for both teams again this season, the winner will get another chance at glory. In many people’s eyes, this is the National Championship Game because it will be the only time the true top two teams will square off. One fact that is certain is that no other conference in America takes more pride in their accomplishments and their success on the field over the last few years is unmatched. This is the SEC; the conference that breeds National Titles. This is their title game where the winner will go on to seek a 4th straight National Championship. This is the premier conference in college football and their best will partake in the biggest game of the year this Saturday night.
The interesting aspect to this year’s game between Alabama and Florida is the fact that both teams rely on similar components to win game. Both teams have premier rushing attacks and rely on the guys up front to win the game. This will be a war in the trenches in a classic old school style football game. The Crimson Tide is averaging 212 yards per game while the Gators have racked up an impressive 236 yards per game. The Gators running back arsenal relies on a trio of playmakers while Alabama relies on one of the frontrunners in the race for the Heisman Trophy in Mark Ingram. The questions is which side will win the running game and will there be any other big plays to impact the outcome.
Alabama rolls onto the contests after narrowly escaping the Iron Bowl. QB Greg McElroy found Roy Upchurch for a touchdown with just 1:24 to go last week to lift the Crimson Tide over rival Auburn. Ingram was held to a season low 30 yards on 16 carries and suffered a banged up hip during the contests. It is crucial that Ingram be healthy and ready to go this weekend because the passing game has been inconsistent at times this season. Without the running game clicking on all cylinders, Alabama would be in a tough hole having to rely on McElroy to hook up with playmakers like WR Julio Jones and company. Not that Jones and other receivers can not make some big plays, but asking the passing game to win it for the Crimson Tide against the Gators secondary is asking a lot. Alabama must establish the running game and get a big effort from Ingram.
There is no doubt that defenses will be a big story in this contest. After all Florida and Alabama have been ranked as the top two defenses in America for most of the season. The real advantage will go to the defense that can come up with some turnovers and help out the offense. Both teams have great defensive lines that will be attempting to stop great rushing attacks. Alabama may have the advantage if there is any on the defensive line. The Crimson Tide rank 2nd in America allowing just 77 yards per game. If they can hold Florida to just twice that, I believe they could be in good shape considering the Gators passing game has struggled in the past few SEC match-ups.
QB Tim Tebow will definitely be the key go to watch this week. America’s favorite player dreams a repeating for National Champions will have a date with destiny. Tebow for the year has solid numbers throwing the ball completing 66% with 17 touchdowns and 4 picks. However, Tebow has not posted a ton of yards or the amount of big plays in the passing game this season. The main strength of the team has been their running game. Tebow leads the team with 796 yards, but there are plenty of threats behind him at the tailback position. The best of the three is Jeffery Demps who is averaging just less than 8 yards per game with 7 scores on the season. However, both Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody are every bit as dangerous when they take snaps in the backfield. The question is will these guys be able to overcome the stout Alabama defense?
Jay’s Pick - Sure everyone will be on Florida here, but I really believe Alabama matches up better with the Gators. The Crimson Tide can and will beat the Gators in the trenches. Alabama gets their chance at revenge and capitalizes. Take Alabama +5.