Pick Top Ranked Alabama -14.5 Over Missouri for SEC Title

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 3:14 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 3:14 PM UTC

Alabama is laying 2 TDs to Missouri in this SEC championship game that the Crimson Tide need to win to make the first-ever playoff and with star WR Amari Cooper are the pick to smash the point spread.

Odds Overview
#1 Alabama vs. #14 Missouri: (Alabama -14, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
The Georgia Dome in Atlanta is the site of this Southeastern Conference championship game between SEC Eastern Division champions Missouri (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) and top-ranked and SEC Western Division champions Alabama (11-1 SU, 4-8 ATS) in a game extremely important to the Crimson Tide in terms of staying on path to be one of the first four teams participating in the first-ever CFP (College Football Playoff) next month.

Odds makers have installed Alabama as massive 14-point Favorites on the college football odds over Missouri here (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)—there are 14½’s offshore (Monday night) at Pinnacle—while in the Money Line (Winner) marketplace, the Crimson Tide are healthy -750 Favorites with Underdogs Missouri priced at +550 (Paddy Power).  With Missouri recently leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, these two schools don’t have a rich history, but when they did meet two years ago in 2012 in Columbia—the Tigers first year in the conference—Alabama spanked Missouri, 42-10 as 21-point Favorites, covering the big point spread and, in the process, providing a somewhat rude welcome wagon to the SEC for host Missouri up in the Show Me State.

Missouri Tigers
Missouri (7-1 SEC) is sort of a surprise to win the SEC’s Eastern Division—and no, not because it’s actually west of Alabama, who’s in the Western Division and on the other side of the Mississippi River—but because of teams like Georgia (6-2 SEC), Florida (4-4), South Carolina (3-5) and Tennessee (3-5), all  had much worse seasons than they all expected to have. These Tigers somehow eked on through and won the SEC’s Eastern Division for the second straight season. But this their reward. #1 Alabama. Yipeee.

Missouri is led by talented QB Maty Mauk (193 completions, 2,279 yards, 22 TDs) and the Tigers are more effective Rushing (57th in nation, 176.0 ypg) the ball than they are Passing (100th, 189.9 ypg) it. Leading the charge on the ground are RBs Russell Hansbrough (177 rushes, 949 yards, 9 TDs) and Marcus Murphy (158 rushes, 747  yards, 4 TDs) while WRs Bud Sasser (65 receptions, 904 yards, 9 TDs, 13.9 ypc) and Jimmie Hunt (34 receptions, 529 yards, 7 TDs, 15.6 yards) give Mauk two nice targets—but the #14th-ranked (AP) Tigers are just 100th Passing (189.9 ypg) and will probably look to establish some kind of rushing attack early on, if that’s possible against Alabama, to gives themselves the kind of offensive balance they’ll need in the game to try to pull off the big upset in this game.

Missouri averages just 28.6 ppg (70th) on offense and will really have to be on their best behavior here in the Georgia Dome against Alabama as the Crimson Tide defense deals in giving up inches and not in giving up yards. But Missouri’s defense (13th, 19.7 ppg) has been this team’s real strong point and it will have to play the game of the year Saturday to try to slow down and shut down the deceivingly potent Crimson Tide offense. In maybe the most telling game on the Tigers schedule, Missouri (6-0 L6 SU) allowed its most points of the season (31) to below-average Indiana at home in Columbia in a shocking 31-27 loss in Week 4. So, it’s hard to see a team that lost to the Hoosiers at Home losing to Alabama anywhere, anytime.

The Tigers do have a really nice +9 TO margin heading in to this SEC showdown and will need to get some turnovers and the sacks and the breaks and a little bit of luck in order to have a chance to knock off mighty Alabama in this situation. And it can be done. If Ole Miss could find a way to beat the Crimson Tide, then maybe Mizzou’s D can also rise to the occasion.

Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama (7-1 SEC)—ranked #1 in the CFP, AP and Coaches polls—is led by QB Blake Sims (207 completions, 2,279 yards, 24 TDs) and the Crimson Tide have done a fantastic job improving their Passing game (22nd, 282.6 ypg) and that isn’t hard with electric WR Amari Cooper (103 receptions, 1,573 yards, 14 TDs, 15.3 ypc), who had the kind of game receivers dream about last Saturday night against rival Auburn where the 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior had 13 catches for 224 yards and 3 TDs in the Crimson Tide’s thrilling 55-44 victory in Tuscaloosa. Sims also has a nice option in WR DeAndrew White (33 receptions, 338 yards, 3 TDs, 10.2 ypc) and the Crimson Tide’s 37th-ranked Rushing attack is led by RBs TJ Yeldon (170 rushes, 885 yards, 8 TDs, 5.2 ypc) and Derrick Henry (139 rushes, 754 yards, 8 TDs, 5.4 ypc) and will certainly put Missouri to the test. Alabama is 20th in the nation in Scoring Offense (36.7 ypg) and head coach Nick Saban (55-44-1 ATS) will have all sorts of funky plays ready for this game and expect him to try to get the ball to Cooper as much as possible like he did last week in the Cooper’s record-breaking performance against Those Other Tigers.

Defensively is where this game, and quite possibly this recommended bet, should be won. With an FCS Playoff spot in mind and the #6 Defense in the land (16.9 ppg), the Crimson Tide will be in complete lockdown mode and TDs will probably be really hard to come by for Missouri. Alabama allowed the least number of TDs (14) defensively last season, and although it’s tied with Central Florida so far this season in the #2 spot, allowing 21 (Ole Miss #1, has allowed 18), this is still a team which butters its bread with its defense.

Best Betting Approach
The paths these two took to get to this point are quite different. Missouri and 14th-year head coach Gary Pinkel (88-76-3 ATS) beat teams like South Carolina, Florida, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Arkansas, while Alabama, playing in the treacherous SEC Western Division, beat the likes of teams such as West Virginia, Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU, then-#1 Mississippi State and that aforementioned win last weekend against then-ranked #15 Auburn—a tough team for anyone to beat any year. The Crimson Tide’s lone loss was at Mississippi while Missouri was shut out at Georgia in Week 7 (34-0) so, it’s still that mysterious Home loss to Indiana that makes it hard to think the Tigers could really win here and that the the final score in this high-profile contest may be eerily similar to that 42-10 score from two years ago in Columbia.
Expect Alabama to again put superstar WR Cooper in the spotlight and he could be targeted as many as 15 times and a 150-yard, 2-TD day against Missouri should be enough to light a fire under the rest of his teammates. The Crimson Tide has walked a fairly steady path to get to this point so consider this when looking at the college football picks.  After scoring 107 points in their last two games, 'bama should explode for around 40 points or so here on the FieldTurf surface of the Georgia Dome while holding Missouri to about 20 or less. And this could be a nice game to contemplate an Alabama First Half bet as this one could be ugly by halftime.

College Football Pick:  Alabama -14.5 at 5Dimes
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