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2009-SEC Championship Preview PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff   
Thursday, 03 December 2009 09:38
The #1 Florida Gators and #2 Alabama Crimson Tide will meet in the 2009 SEC Championship, Saturday @ 4pm. This will be the 18th SEC Championship game; and it's probably the biggest one ever. Florida & Alabama will be facing each other in the title game for the 7th time (Florida holds a 4-2 edge). In fact, Alabama has never faced another team for the SEC title, only Florida. This will only be the second time the two teams meeting for the championship will be ranked #1/#2 (last year obviously being the first time, with). But this will be the first time ever, that both teams are 12-0. We already know that the winner will go on to the BCS National Championship. Most likely to face Texas, unless they stumble against Nebraska, which I don't see happening.

Most people I've talked to & seen on TV, think Florida is going to win. Again, I'll admit, I'm a Florida fan. So I hope they are right, but I'm not too sure. I have a feeling this is going to be an epic battle. Neither offense has been spectacular. But this game will feature arguably the best two defenses in college football (top 2 according to stats & rankings). Here's a breakdown of different aspects of the game. Maybe after this, I'll decide on a winner.

OFFENSE:

Rushing: Florida & Alabama both like to run the ball. And both teams are very good at it. There's no doubt that the best runner in the game is Alabama's Mark Ingram. But the question is, which team is better as a whole? Florida with Tim Tebow, Jeffery Demps, Chris Rainey & Emmanuel Moody. Or Alabama with Ingram & Trent Richardson. Florida ranks 6th in the nation in rushing offense, while Alabama ranks 13th. Again, Ingram is the best runner in the game. And Alabama's best chance at winning is for him to have a big game.
Advantage - Florida (by the slimmest of margins)

Passing: Neither team has been very explosive through the air this season. And while it's a no-brainer that Tebow is the better all-around QB, you can't definitively say he's a better passer than Alabama's Greg McElroy. Neither team ranks in the top 50 in passing offense (Florida 64th & Alabama 89th). But one thing you can say is that the best WR in the game will be Alabama's Julio Jones. But it takes two to tango, and Jones hasn't had a stellar season. Florida's Riley Cooper actually has 150 more yards & twice as many TDs on the season. But Florida's most reliable & important receiver is their TE Aaron Hernandez. There will be some important plays & 3rd down conversions through the air, but neither team is going to win by throwing the ball all over the place.
Advantage - Florida (again, barely)

DEFENSE:

Rush: Both of these teams are very tough against the run. Alabama is ranked 2nd in the nation, while Florida ranks 8th. The big LB match-up is Florida's Brandon Spikes vs. Alabama's Rolando McClain. But Alabama's ace in the hole against the run is big Terrence Cody. This is going to be the most interesting part of the game. Which defense will do a better job at stopping -- or at least slowing down -- the run. For both teams it's going to be strength vs. strength. And this will ultimately be the biggest deciding factor as to who will be victorious.
Advantage - Alabama (by 6' 5" 354 lbs)

Pass: Again, both teams are strong against the pass. Florida ranks 1st in the nation, while Alabama ranks 5th. Both teams have a great group of LBs, CBs & safeties. They are pretty much dead even in interceptions & sacks. The one new variable is the arrest & suspension of Florida's standout DE Carlos Dunlap. If this makes it harder for Florida to pressure McElroy, it will help out Alabama's passing game. In this case, it's strength vs. weakness. Like I said earlier, I don't see either team finding a ton of success through the air.
Advantage - EVEN

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Both teams have very solid special teams. The better punt returner is Alabama's Javier Arenas. But Florida has only allowed 4 punts to be returned all season. For a total of 13 yards, which is just incredible. Again, strength vs. strength, we'll see what happens. Florida's Brandon James has had a pretty disappointing season returning punts. Alabama doesn't have as good a punt coverage team, but that might not matter. Now if the 2006-08 James shows up, that might be a problem for Alabama. As for returning kickoffs, again, Arenas is the most dangerous. But Florida is better at covering kickoffs. I don't see this being a huge factor in the game. Obviously, unless a team returns a kickoff for TD. And similarly, if a team blocks a punt, that would be huge. But you can't bank on either of those things happening. After saying all of that...
Advantage - EVEN

COACHING:
These are both very good coaching staffs. Outside of Gainesville, not many people like Urban Meyer. And outside of Tuscaloosa, Nick Saban is pretty much hated. But you can't deny that they are two of the best football coaches in the nation. I don't think either of them will make any big mistakes. And I don't think last year's game will have any effect on this game. It's going to come down to the players, execution, mistakes, penalties, etc.
Advantage - EVEN

INTANGIBLES:
This is where the "Tim Tebow Factor" comes into play. Since losing to Ole Miss last September, Tebow has led Florida to 22 straight victories. And in many cases, he seemed to will his team to victory. It's hard to not think this will play a factor in this game. If it's close, he's the one player that's proven he can carry his team to a championship game victory.
Advantage - Florida (by default)

So, at the risk of jinxing my team, I think Florida will pull this one out. I think it's going to be close as hell, but I see Florida winning. But it honestly won't surprise me one bit if Alabama stifles Florida's offense, makes a big play here & there, and wins this game. We'll see, I can't wait.

It's just too bad we don't have a playoff system. So maybe Florida & Alabama could meet with the National Championship on the line. Instead of -- for the second year in a row -- finishing the season #1 & #2, and meeting in the SEC Championship. But I digress.

Oh, real quick, I almost forgot. Here are my other championship game previews:

Big 12 Championship: Texas wins.

ACC Championship: I like Georgia Tech. But, no offense, does it really matter?

Too bad TCU, Cincinnati & Boise State have no control over their own destiny. Shit! There I go digressing again.
Comments (2)
2 Sunday, 06 December 2009 01:00
jc1980
Let me fix my observations. Advantage - Alabama (in every category), especially defense. Good lord Florida's defense was god awful. Looking forward to the National Championship game. I was rooting for Nebraska, but only b/c I want BCS chaos. Not a good night to be a Gator fan.
1 Thursday, 03 December 2009 19:22
floridag8tor
I am having Jeff-like anxiety about this game. I am off work (unusual for such an event) and will be completely available to watch this. I have no doubt in our defensive abilities - even without DUN(der the influence)LAP. However, what happens if we can't throw the ball or run against that defense?? Special teams and field position may be the keys to a Gator victory!! This is clearly a war that Tebow is going to need take control and lead the team to victory!
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