Florida (8-3, 6-2) vs Alabama (12-0, 8-0)
When: Saturday, December 3rd 2016
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Time: 4:00 ET | TV: CBS
The Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide will meet in the SEC Championship Game for the ninth time, but on paper, this seems like a one-sided affair. Alabama is ranked #1 in the latest CFB rankings and even with a shocking loss to the Gators, should still be in the final four. The Tide have easily the best defense in the nation, leading the country in scoring (11.4), total defense (246.8), and rushing defense (68.7). Senior defensive end Jonathan Allen (seven sacks, two fumble return touchdowns) is the only defensive player among the five Walter Camp Player of the Year finalists, but Alabama has plenty more talent on that side of the ball. Sophomore Marlon Humphrey (leg) is injured but Saban feels he will recover in time to play, and the cornerback is a standout in a secondary that is receiving superb play from sophomore strong safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (team-high four interceptions). Linebackers Ryan Anderson (team-best 16.5) and Tim Williams (15) have combined for 31.5 tackles for losses. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts leads the offense by accounting for 32 total touchdowns (20 passing, 12 rushing) while passing for 2,425 yards and rushing for another 840.
The Gators came out of the East with two losses and clinched a spot in the title game with a 16-10 win at LSU – a game that was supposed to be played in Gainesville earlier in the season. Defensively, Florida can stack up with Alabama as much as anyone as they are ranked fifth in scoring defense (14.6) and sixth in total defense (291.9), but will be without six starters. Included in that list are senior linebacker Jarrad Davis (ankle), junior linebacker Alex Anzalone (arm), junior defensive end Jordan Sherit (knee) and senior safety Marcus Maye (arm). Offensively, the Gators are just above terrible. They are 104th in scoring (24.1), 114th in total offense (352.7), and 104th in rushing (141.6). Sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio (shoulder) will be available only in an emergency so senior Austin Appleby (964 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions) will again be under center. Sophomore running back Jordan Scarlett has rushed for 778 yards and six touchdowns, while WR Antonio Callaway leads the team with 43 receptions and 603 yards, but has only two touchdowns with the second coming back in September.
This is a huge spread for a championship game, but I’m going to lay the points. Florida may be good on defense, but they’re hurting badly and Florida State just scored 31 on them. I can’t see the Gators getting anymore than 10 points in this game. Alabama will roll.
Pick: Alabama -24