SBR poster Jasonal98 picked Alabama to stomp the Gators in the SEC Championship, and almost nailed that score. He's expecting the Tide to roll again on Thursday.
On November 28, I wrote a blog on the SEC Championship Game between the Florida Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide. These were two teams that I had watched very carefully throughout the entire season. I called for a 31-13 Alabama win based on several factors.
When the game rolled around, I missed the final score by a single point, as the Tide won the game 32-13. Don't forget to check SBROdds.com as well for free NCAAF betting odds from top sportsbooks.
On the same day, the Texas Longhorns squeaked by the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big 12 Championship Game. There was a great deal of controversy in the game, as the clock actually read 0:00 before the referees put one second back on the clock. That second allowed the Horns to kick a field goal that put them in the BCS Championship Game against the Tide.
Alabama opened as a 5 ½-point favorite at Pinnacle after the matchup was made official. Since that time the line has dropped considerably. The Crimson Tide is now a 3 ½- to 4 ½-point favorite at books listed on the front page of sbrodds.com.
The drop is interesting, considering that 66% of the wagers are coming in on Alabama as I write this. Personally, I attribute this to heavy betting on Texas after Nebraska's complete dismantling of the Arizona Wildcats. We'll determine a bit later if that reaction was justified.
The Sagarin ratings indicate that Alabama should win the game. Alabama is ranked firstt by Sagarin with a power rating of 98.22. Texas enters the game ranked third with a power ranking of 91.47.
These rankings indicate that Alabama should be around a 6 ½-point favorite. The Predictor ratings are closer, giving Alabama only a 96.14-93.32 advantage. This translates to a 2 ½-point edge for the Tide.
The two sets of ratings, therefore, average out to a spread of 4 ½. Anything less than that translates to a Sagarin advantage for Alabama.
It is also interesting to note other information found in Sagarin ratings. Alabama faced and defeated seven top-30 teams. Texas, on the other hand, only played two top-30 teams. This difference gives Alabama a much stronger strength of schedule (12 vs. 49).
Texas outscored its weaker opponents by 332 points while Alabama "only" outscored its opponents by 269 points. Based on the difference in strength of schedule, this would seem to be logical.
Alabama's defense, however, stands out when looking at points allowed. Against the 12th-most difficult schedule, Alabama allowed only 143 points (11 ppg). Texas, conversely, allowed 197 points (15.1 ppg) against weaker opposition. The Crimson Tide would seem to have a distinct advantage on defense.
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Texas seems to have an advantage on offense statistically. Remember, however, they scored a total of 29 points against the two very good defenses they faced, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Their offensive numbers are largely based on slaughtering weaker Big 12 and non-conference defenses.
The coaching matchup also favors Alabama. Mack Brown is a nice guy who deserves his success. He recruits well and has been successful because of his recruiting. He is not a master tactician (see the end of the Big 12 Championship).
Nick Saban, conversely, is a machine. He has been planning for this game since the Longhorns kicked their field goal. Saban reminds me a lot of Coach K at Duke. If Saban has extra time to gameplan a defense, he will find a way to win.
Some will point to last year's Utah game as proof that this statement is not accurate. That, however, was a disappointed Alabama team that was not properly motivated. The Andre Smith distraction was also hanging over the team. Motivation is not a problem with this group.
What about Nebraska's impressive win over Arizona? The Pac-10 has, largely, not shown up in bowl games this year. If you want to compare recent opponents, ask yourself which team was more impressive in all phases of the game, Nebraska or Florida. If you saw both games, your answer is clear.
I expect this to be a close game early. Alabama will attempt to establish a running game with Heisman winner Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson while Texas will attempt to loosen Alabama's run defense with the short passing game.
As the game goes on, Alabama's power running game will wear down the Texas defense. Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain will begin to mix screen passes into the offense along with shots down the field to Julio Jones and Marquis Maze.
The Texas defense will have trouble stopping the Alabama offense while the Tide will stop the Horns by taking Jordan Shipley out of the offense and pressuring Colt McCoy. Alabama will force McCoy to play from behind the chains, take chances, and commit turnovers. He has not shown the ability this season to succeed against premier defenses. This defense is the best in the country.
Take Alabama and give up the points. I do not think the game is going to be close at the end. Alabama will pull away in the second half.
Friends laughed at my SEC prediction of 31-13. Here's another one for you: 44-10. Alabama grabs title #13 easily in Pasadena.