By Marcus Williams
The Alabama Crimson Tide are 12-0 and have been the #1 ranked team in each edition of the College Football Playoff rankings. They have allowed a total of 18 points in their last four games, and they have won every game since September by more than 2 touchdowns. But Alabama, with all of their success and dominance, has drawn Florida in the SEC Championship Game, and it's time for a prediction: Florida will win the game.
The first reason why Florida will win is that the Crimson Tide might not actually need the game at all. It is widely thought that if they lose just 1 of their next 2 games, they will still easily make the College Football Playoff in the final rankings, because of the lack of quality undefeated and 1-loss teams available, especially in power conferences. Meanwhile, if chaos plays out, Florida might have a very small chance at getting in the playoff by winning that game, since 2 losses this year does not automatically disqualify a team. Florida is also looking to play in a New Year's Day bowl game, and a win in the game virtually assures at least that.
On the field, Florida has to follow the one blueprint for success that a team has had against Alabama this season, and that was Ole Miss in the first half of their meeting. The Rebels built a 24-3 lead with under three minutes to play in the first half, before ultimately losing 48-43 in a wild game. So how did Ole Miss do what no one else has been able to? First, they didn't turn the ball over while building that lead. You can't give the Alabama defense a chance to make the big plays they have thrived on against other teams. Second, the Rebel defense adopted a "bend but don't break" philosophy in the game. They allowed 17-play and 9-play drives in the first quarter, but when they got into the red zone, they came up with the plays they needed to make the Tide settle for field goals (one of which was missed).
Jalen Hurts and the Alabama offense are as dynamic as any in the country, so it's unreasonable to expect to be able to shut them down for the whole game. Florida possesses a defense (when healthy) that can make the big plays, as evidenced by their goal line stand against LSU last week to win the game. If the Gators get some key pieces back from injury by the game, Florida will have everything it needs to pull of this massive upset.
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