The Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Florida Gators on Saturday, December 3rd in the SEC Championship Game. This will be a rematch from last year’s title game in which the Tide won 29-15 en route to winning the national championship.
Alabama (12-0, 8-0 SEC) completed its perfect regular season with a 30-12 victory over Auburn as 20.5-point favorites in the Iron Bowl. They held the Tigers to seven first downs and four field goals. Their defense went the entire month of November without allowing a touchdown.
Florida (8-3, 6-2 SEC) had already captured the SEC East title before losing 13-31 to rival Florida State as 9-point dogs last week. The Gators were held to 207 total yards and their only touchdown came on a 12-yard fumble recovery for a score.
Kickoff inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta is set for 4:00 EST Saturday afternoon with CBS providing the television coverage. Taking a look at the latest college football odds, I find Alabama as a 24-point favorite over Florida with a total set of 40.5 points.
I want to start by saying I have not once bet on Florida this season, I’ve only bet against them. I did so successfully last week against Florida State, plus won against them with Arkansas, Tennessee and North Texas earlier this season. I have been as big of a Florida hater as anyone this season, not once backing them.
However, it’s to the point now where there finally looks to be value in backing the Gators. After that 18-point loss to Florida State last week, the betting public wants nothing to do with them. But they weren’t focused for that game after beating LSU the previous week to win the SEC East, and they were resting some players with injuries that will likely return against Alabama.
Conversely, the betting public loves Alabama. The Crimson Tide had have covered the majority of their spreads this season en route to their 12-0 straight up record. They covered five straight before failing to cover the past two games against UT-Chattanooga and Auburn. They did cover the 17-point opener against Auburn, but not the 20.5-point closing line as the public pounded them leading up to that game.
And it’s clear that the public is pounding the Crimson Tide again here as this line opened at -21.5 and has already been bet up to -24. There’s no question Alabama wants to win the SEC, but it knows that it can afford to lose this game and still make the four-team playoff. While I don’t expect that at all, I do think the Crimson Tide will be just content with winning and not blowing the doors off the Gators, which is what it’s going to take to cover this 24-point spread.
The Gators are giving up just 14.6 points per game, 292 yards per game and 4.6 yards per play this season. They are holding opponents to 13.3 points, 115 yards per game and 1.3 yards per play less than their season averages.
The one thing about Florida is that is just has a knack for playing in close games. It can’t blow out bad teams because it doesn’t possess that type of offense, but it doesn’t get blown out by good teams either because it has one of the best defenses in the country that keeps it in games. It’s asking a lot for any team, even one as good as Alabama, to beat Florida by more than three touchdowns.
The Gators are giving up just 14.6 points per game, 292 yards per game and 4.6 yards per play this season. They are holding opponents to 13.3 points, 115 yards per game and 1.3 yards per play less than their season averages. Florida possesses perhaps the best cornerback duo in the country in Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson, which will help limit the big plays from the stud receivers for Alabama in ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley.
We saw last year in the SEC Championship an overmatched Florida team that managed to cover the spread. The Gators were only getting 16.5 points in that contest, and lost 15-29. They were dominated statistically, getting outgained 437 to 180 by the Crimson Tide, but it just goes to show you that stats don’t always matter with this team. The Gators have a grit about them that cannot be taught, and they will fight you for four quarters. That was evident in their 16-10 win at LSU as 13.5-point dogs two weeks ago.
The Gators are 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game. Florida is 6-1 ATS in its last seven neutral site games. The Gators are 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games following a ATS loss.