It's not often that the no. 1-ranked team in the ntion, enters a conference championship game on a neutral field, against a lower ranked opponent, as an underdog. It is even rarer, when the same no. 1-ranked team enters the game as a double digit underdog.
However, that is exactly the case in this year's SEC Championship game. The no. 1-ranked and undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide squares off against, undoubtedly the nation's "hottest" team, the No. 4 ranked Florida Gators Saturday afternoon in the Atlanta's Georgia Dome, as a 10.5 point underdog.
Since losing their only game of the season at home on September 27 to Ole Miss 36-35, the Gators have won eight straight games by at least 28 points and have outscored their opponents by an average score of 51-12.
However, don't expect the Gators to score 51 points against Alabama on Saturday. In their last five games, Alabama's defense has surrendered only 37 points, with 21 of those points coming to LSU in a 27-21 OT victory in Tiger Stadium. Outside that one close victory, Alabama outscored the other four opponents in this streak by an average score of 33-4. If any team in the conference, or for that matter the nation, has a shot of slowing down the Gator offense, it is Nick Saban's boys.
Key to the Game:
- Alabama has to play to their strengths: running the ball, field position & defense. John Parker Wilson has attempted 30 passes in a game just twice this season and is only averaging 22 pass attempts a game. Alabama has only trailed in three of their games this season, for a grand total of 28 minutes and 53 seconds. If the Tide gets behind in the game early and feels as though they have to abandon their game plan and put the game on JPW's shoulders to lead them back, they are in trouble.
- The Gators are so explosive and can score so quickly, they are never out of a game. Alabama, on the other hand, has played the majority of the season with the lead and relying on the defense to finish the game. That formula, could lead to a snowball effect for Alabama, if the Gators jump out a quick lead.
Alabama's defense will slow the Gators down a bit and may even give them some fits but as I've already mentioned, their quick-strike ability will be too much for the Tide. This game should be close in the first half but a long a run in the second half will finally break the game open as the Gators will finally be able to pull away. Florida 31 Alabama 16.
BCS No. 2 Oklahoma (-16.5) vs. BCS No. 20 Missouri
Did I say Florida was the hottest team in the nation? Perhaps. However, I believe you may hear from a few fans in Norman that believe their Oklahoma Sooners have become that team.
The Sooners have averaged a little over 62 points per game in their last five contests and with the need to prove that they belong in the conference championship game over Texas, cold temperatures and a little bad weather, shouldn't be enough to slow them down in this game either.
Sam Bradford will be taking his final exam for the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night and outside of a very poor performance and an upset loss to Missouri, he should pass with flying colors.
Prediction: I can't see a scenario where Missouri can outscore Oklahoma. Look for the Sooners offense to get things rolling early and not let their foot off the gas until the game is well in hand.
Oklahoma 55 Missouri 27.