The 11-1 and College Football Playoff #2-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide go to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia to try to win the Southeastern Conference title over the 10-2 #18-ranked Florida Gators. The Tide are 7-1 in the SEC with their sole loss coming against Ole Miss. The Gators are 7-1 in the SEC after losing to LSU following starting quarterback Will Grier's season-long drug suspension.
Florida was dominated all day long last week as they lost to their rival Florida State 27-2. UF did get big wins over Ole Miss back when they were #3 in the country, Tennessee and Georgia. Meanwhile, Alabama won the Iron Bowl last week quite handily 29-13, and has big wins this season over then-#9 Texas A&M, then #20 Wisconsin, then #17 Mississippi State, and then #2 LSU. Bama’s one loss was to Ole Miss at Bryant Denny Stadium where they were dominated.
The keys to the game for Alabama are to dominate time of possession, force turnovers, play great defense and don’t underestimate the Gators. The Tide are ninth in the country for time of possession with 33:28 per game this season. The Crimson Tide have to control the ball in this game, and make the Gators defense tired. Bama has forced 23 turnovers this season and have 41.0 sacks, which is good for third in the nation. They need to dominate the Gator offensive line and play great defense to win this game. Last week Alabama only gave up one rushing yard in the second half, they need to put up similar numbers to beat Florida on Saturday.
The keys for Florida are to stop Derrick Henry and pressure Alabama into mistakes. Henry is a legitimate Heisman contender this season; he is the star running back for Alabama and is a concern for every team that has to face him, if Florida can find a way to stop him it will be with their 8th ranked rush defense only giving up 1,335 yards on the ground this season. They need to force Bama into some mistakes to win this game. Alabama has lost 16 turnovers this season, good for 26th in the nation and Florida has 24 turnovers gained this season, which is 17th in the nation. If Florida can force some bad throws and turnovers they have a chance to take the SEC crown.
The key players for Alabama are Henry and quarterback Jake Coker. Derrick Henry has been a beast all season long, leads the ESPN.com Heisman fan vote and leads both the team and the nation with 1,797 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns on 295 carries. Coker is the newest of the great QBs that Nick Saban has produced at Alabama. This season Coker has 2,285 yards passing this season with 15 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He has played well in recent weeks, leading Bama to this stage. Coker has had one interception in the month of November and two in the last six games. If the Crimson Tide can get big plays from Coker and Henry they have a good chance to run all over the Gators defense.
The key players for Florida are quarterback Treon Harris and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. Harris has filled in well for the Gators since Grier's suspension, throwing for 1,365 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Hargreaves III might be playing his last game ever in a Gators uniform and will want to leave it all out there. Hargreaves has played on a Will Muschamp defense that has given up 15.5 points per game this season, which is good for 5th in the country. Hargreaves has four picks this season, 19 tackles and one forced fumble on the way to a trip to the SEC Championship Game for Florida. If Harris carries the offense for Florida and Hargreaves carries the defense Florida has a chance to take down Alabama.