College Football SEC Championship Betting Preview: #18 Florida Gators vs #2 Alabama Crimson Tide

2015 SEC Championship Game
#18 Florida Gators vs #2 Alabama Crimson Tide
Saturday, December 5, 2015, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: Alabama -16
Current Line: Alabama -17 1/2
Opening Total: 40 1/2
Current Total: 40
Opening Money Line: Alabama -900 / Florida +600
Current Money Line: Alabama -1000 / Florida +650

Alabama looks to win their 25th SEC title and also clinch a playoff berth with a win against Florida Saturday.
Alabama looks to win their 25th SEC title and also clinch a playoff berth with a win against Florida Saturday.

The 11-1 Alabama Crimson Tide and 10-2 Florida Gators meet Saturday in the SEC Championship in Atlanta. Alabama won the West Division with a 7-1 conference record, and looks to clinch not only an SEC title but a spot in the four team playoff as well. Florida went 7-1 in the East. The Gators have an outside shot of making the playoff with a win, but would need a lot of help.

This is the eighth time Florida and Alabama are meeting in the SEC Championship in the 24 year history of the game. Florida leads 4-3 in those games but they haven’t played since 2009. Overall, Alabama leads the series 24-14. Alabama has won four straight games in the series overall including 42-21 last season in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide have 24 SEC titles including a 5-4 record in SEC Championship games. Florida has 8 SEC titles including a 7-3 record in SEC Championship games.

Florida is coached by Jim McElwain. The Gators have home wins over New Mexico State 61-13, East Carolina 31-24, Tennessee 28-27, Ole Miss 38-10, Vanderbilt 9-7, and Florida Atlantic 20-14 in overtime, along with road wins at Kentucky 14-9, Missouri 21-3 and South Carolina 24-14. Florida beat Georgia 27-3 in Jacksonville. The Gators have a road loss to LSU 35-28 and a home loss to Florida State 27-2 last week.

Florida was a 2.5 point underdog against Florida State and the total was 44. The Seminoles would take a 13-0 lead into the fourth quarter. Florida finally got on the board with a safety but FSU scored 14 points in the fourth to win by 25. Florida had just 262 total yards. The Gators are 7-5 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season.

Alabama is coached by Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide have a home loss to Ole Miss 43-37. Alabama has a win over Wisconsin 35-17 in Arlington, Texas, road wins at Georgia 38-10, Texas A&M 41-23, Tennessee 19-14, Mississippi State 31-6 and Auburn 29-13 last week, plus home wins over Middle Tennessee 37-10, UL-Monroe 34-0, Arkansas 27-14, LSU  30-16 and Charleston Southern 56-6. Alabama has won nine straight games since the Ole Miss loss.

Alabama was a 14.5 point favorite against Iron Bowl rival Auburn and the total was 47.5. The first half featured six field goals as Alabama took a 12-6 lead. The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter. The Crimson Tide scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Alabama running back Derrick Henry scored on a 25 yard touchdown run with 26 seconds left that both gave the Crimson Tide the cover and sent the game over the total. Henry had 46 carries for 271 yards and a touchdown to solidify his role as the Heisman favorite. Alabama is 7-5 ATS and the total is 4-8 this season.

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Florida is outscoring teams 25-16. The Gators are #5 in points allowed nationally. Florida averages 353 total yards per game on offense including 215 passing and 138 rushing yards. The Gators are #104 both in rushing and total offense out of 128 teams. On defense, Florida is allowing 284 total yards per game including 172 passing and 112 rushing yards. The Gators are #9 or better in all three categories. Florida has forced 24 turnovers and has 10 of their own. The Gators average 52 penalty yards per game and opponents average 37. Florida is 82/206 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 65/199. The Gators have forced 38 sacks and allowed 37 this season. Florida is 33/48 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns and opponents are 21/26 with 13 touchdowns. Florida has two pick sixes, a fumble return for touchdown and a punt return for a TD this season.

Florida quarterback Will Grier was suspended for a year for testing positive for PED’s after taking an over the counter supplement he didn’t know was banned. Grier threw for 1,204 yards with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and rushed for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. Treon Harris took over as the new starter. He has thrown for 1,395 yards with 8 touchdowns and 4 picks , along with 73 carries for 193 rushing yards.

Running back Kelvin Taylor has 241 carries for 977 yards and 13 touchdowns, along with 17 catches for 150 yards. Jordan Cronkite has 39 carries for 132 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 5 catches and a touchdown.  Jordan Scarlett has 33 carries for 178 yards and a touchdown.

Receiver Antonio Callaway has 29 catches for 557 yards and 4 touchdowns. DeMarcus Robinson has 47 catches for 505 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brandon Powell has 28 catches for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with a foot injury. Jake McGee has 38 catches for 338 yards and 4 touchdowns. DeAndre Goolsby has 16 catches for 262 yards and a touchdown. Eight defensive players are questionable or out.

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Alabama is outscoring teams 35-14 this season. Alabama is #3 in points allowed and #33 in scoring.  The Crimson Tide average 421 yards per game on offense including 215 passing and 206 rushing yards. Alabama is #27 in rushing offense. On defense, Alabama is allowing 265 yards per game including 186 passing and 79 rushing yards. Alabama is #2 in total defense and #1 in rush defense nationally. Even the pass defense is #16 nationally. The Crimson Tide have forced 23 turnovers and have 16 of their own. Alabama averages 59 penalty yards per game and opponents average 49. Alabama is 70/189 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 61/201. The Crimson Tide have forced 41 sacks and allowed 17 this season. Alabama is 41/50 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns and opponents are 20/24 with 11 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide have four pick sixes and 4 punt return for  touchdowns this season.

Quarterback Jake Coker has thrown for 2,285 yards with 15 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 71 rushing yards on 53 carries and 2 touchdowns. Cooper Bateman has thrown for 291 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions.

Running back Derrick Henry has 295 carries for 1,797 yards and 22 touchdowns, plus 10 catches for 97 yards. He has a rushing touchdown in 17 straight games dating back to last season. Kenyan Drake has 68 carries for 333 yards and a touchdown, along with 19 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with an arm injury.  Damien Harris has 45 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown.

Receiver Calvin Ridley has 67 catches for 791 yards and 5 touchdowns.  ArDarius Stewart has 50 catches for 536 yards and 3 touchdowns. O.J. Howard has 30 catches for 335 yards. Richard Mullaney has 31 catches for 286 yards and 4 touchdowns. Robert Foster has 10 catches for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns, but is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Chris Black is also out for the season with an ankle injury.

Florida is 4-0 ATS after a straight up loss, after a double digit home loss, in neutral site games and after scoring less than 20 points, 5-1 after failing to cover, 4-1 on fieldturf, 10-3 after a straight up loss of 20 points or more, 6-2 in SEC games, 9-3 against teams with winning records, 6-2 after passing for less than 170 yards and 5-2 after gaining less than 275 yards.

Alabama is 6-0 ATS against teams with winning records, 5-0 after allowing less than 20 points, 4-0 after a straight up win, after gaining more than 450 total yards, overall and after allowing less than 275 total yards, 5-1 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 4-1 in SEC games, 10-4 in neutral site games, 3-7-1 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, and 2-5 after rushing for more than 200 rushing yards. The favorite has covered four of the last five games in this series. Alabama is 9-1-1 ATS in this series recently.

The Florida offense has really gone in the tank in the last month, averaging just 14 points a game in the month of November. The Florida defense might let them hang around for a while, but the toothless Gators simply don’t have the firepower to keep up with Alabama. I see a similar score to the Iron Bowl last week with Alabama coming out on top. Florida should expect another heavy dose of Henry.

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