An SEC Title Game between Alabama and Florida wasn’t even a consideration at the beginning of the college football season. Now it looks more like it will happen if the Crimson Tide can take care of Auburn in the season finale.
The Crimson Tide’s 31-6 win over Mississippi State was more about a dominant defense that never let the Bulldogs off the mat, and a running attack that again featured Derrick Henry, who now has to be considered the front runner for the Heisman Trophy.
As written on ESPN.com, the Tide continue to roll.
Alabama (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) survived its last real test before the Iron Bowl in two weeks, overcoming a slow start by scoring three long touchdowns in the second quarter to beat the Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3) for an eighth straight season.
Derrick Henry ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns. The Tide won easily despite being outgained 393 yards to 379.
A little over a month ago, media types and SEC homers were wondering if Alabama was a mirage of sorts after losing to Mississippi. Now, those pundits are convinced the Crimson Tide could be the most dangerous of the four teams that if the season ended today – along with the Tigers, Ohio State and Notre Dame – would challenge for a national title.
After seeing Florida win on Saturday, but continue to struggle on offense, is there any doubt the signature conference championship game could be as lopsided as Holly Holm’s win over Ronda Rousey this past weekend?
Jim McElwain and his Gators program has shocked the SEC and the world with a 9-1 record with a good running game and a tremendous defense, but it may not be enough to stop the freight train coming to Atlanta from Tuscaloosa.
The Gators are done with conference play and now will face Florida Atlantic before hosting Florida State over Thanksgiving weekend.
The running attack led by Kelvin Taylor and a stingy Gators defense preserved a 24-14 win Saturday in Columbia over the South Carolina Gamecocks.
“There’s something special about that because wins are hard to come by,” McElwain said on ESPN.com. “I’m proud for our guys and proud for Gator fans out there who didn’t think much of this season, probably.”
On paper, this looks as much as a mismatch as it did when the two teams faced each other last season. But as it has been written for years, defense wins championships.
Can the Gators defense play as tough as it has all season and turn in a Crimson Tide-like performance like the one Saturday? If so, McElwain will look like a genius and the Gators will be playing for more than just an SEC Title.
Just like Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer before him, McElwain has revitalized the Gator Nation with a team that plays within itself, just a Nick Saban’s team that plays to its strengths. The collision course isn’t a David and Goliath matchup – rather a game played by two teams with similar goals but not similar teams.
Saban’s program still has to finish its business against Auburn, who lost to Georgia on Saturday. From the looks of the state of the SEC, this matchup is all but assured – much to surprise of those who never saw it coming.