SEC Championship Game 2016: Early Preview, Predictions for Alabama vs. Florida

SEC Championship Game 2016: Early Preview, Predictions for Alabama vs. Florida

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Florida Gators will meet in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, December 3 for the ninth time, with the Crimson Tide looking to secure their spot in the College Football Playoff with a victory. 

These two teams squared off in last year’s SEC title game, with Alabama dominating en route to a 29-15 victory that wasn’t as close as the score indicates. Florida’s offense had 180 total yards and just 16 minutes, 31 seconds of possession. 

Florida’s last SEC title came in 2008 when Tim Tebow had 273 total yards and three touchdowns. That game also marks the last conference championship game Alabama lost under head coach Nick Saban

2016 SEC Championship Game Schedule
Date Matchup Start Time (ET) Network
Saturday, Dec. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida Gators 4 p.m. CBS


Game Preview

John Bazemore/Associated Press

Much like last year’s showdown, the key for this game will be Florida’s ability to get anything going on offense against a stout Alabama defense. 

The Gators have been one of the nation’s worst-scoring teams in 2016. They have scored more than 20 points just twice in their last six conference games, with one of those instances coming against a Missouri team that finished last in the SEC East. 

Austin Appleby, while not setting the world on fire, has been an upgrade over Luke Del Rio at quarterback. He had nearly as many touchdowns in his first three starts this season (six) as Del Rio did in six games (eight) and only threw two interceptions over those three games. 

Those are the kinds of big plays Florida will have to create if it hopes to keep this game close, let alone pull off the upset against Alabama. 

Florida’s running game hasn’t been any better, ranking 98th in the nation with 150 yards per game. Running the ball won’t get you far against the Crimson Tide anyway. They lead the nation in run defense, yards per attempt and rushing touchdowns allowed, per

The Gators do boast a strong defense of their own, allowing just 13 points per game. They have had hiccups this season, notably giving up a combined 69 points in two losses against Tennessee and Arkansas. 

One thing that has made Alabama so dangerous, aside from just being ridiculously talented at every position, is how it has created points this season. 

ESPN Stats & Info highlighted the Crimson Tide’s unique streak from earlier this season:

Speaking of streaks involving Alabama, it’s been a long time since an opponent was able to find the end zone against this defense:

There is no spot on the field at which Alabama can’t turn it into a touchdown, whether through offense, defense or special teams. Saban has done such a remarkable job of coaching his players to be aggressive while still playing smart, disciplined football. 

Alabama doesn’t always have to play its best football to win a game, as evidenced in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. 

Florida has to play at its absolute best in order to keep the SEC title game close. It’s a tall order to ask of the Gators, especially as they continue to search for some kind of identity on offense. 

Prediction: Alabama 34, Florida 13