Rushing Attack Makes Alabama the College Football Pick Over Florida

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 4:11 PM GMT

Our handicapper takes an early look at the matchup in the SEC Championship game between the Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide. Check our college football pick inside.

#12 Florida vs. #2 Alabama
In the 2015 SEC Championship game we find the 9-2 Florida Gators and the 10-1 Alabama Crimson Tide. Vegas thinks this will be a one-sided affair, with Alabama laying the most points that a team has had to give up in 20 years in the SEC Championship game. Books have opened the lines favoring Alabama at 16.5 and 17 points, depending on where you shop. The O/U total reflects Florida’s recent struggles on offense, and has been posted at 40.5 across the board.

 

Florida Gators
Florida’s season got derailed a bit when redshirt freshman quarterback, Will Grier, was suspended for one year for failing a drug test after the game against Missouri in October. Florida was off to a 6-0 start up to that point, but promptly lost its next game at LSU 35-28 with sophomore quarterback, Treon Harris, under center. That game against LSU was also Harris’s best start of the year, as he posted a 17-32, 271 yard, 2/0 TD/INT, and 144.9 QBR performance.  

Treon Harris has played the role of game manager since the LSU game, and although he has been largely efficient, his overall statistics have been underwhelming. In his last two games Harris has only thrown for 256 yards combined, 122 yards against 2-9 Florida Atlantic and 134 yards against Florida State. As a result of this Florida has been leaning heavily on RB Kelvin Taylor, and even though he has put up over 105 yards in his last three games, the Florida offense is nothing if not one dimensional. There are rumors that Taylor may declare for the NFL draft early after this season.

 

Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama has one blemish on their record this year, a Week 3 loss to ranked Mississippi at home, but otherwise have been the Alabama we all expect and will be in the College Football Playoff if they win against Florida this week. Alabama is led by junior Heisman hopefuly RB, Derrick Henry, who has 1,797 yards rushing this season, 22 touchdowns, and averages nearly 150 yards per game. He’s been hot of late, breaking 200 yards rushing in four of the last five games that he was a starter (Henry sat out most of the 56-6 blowout against Charleston Southern).

You could say that Derrick Henry was the MVP of the Iron Bowl against Auburn and that Auburn lost that game by blunt force trauma. Henry carried the ball an amazing 46 times in that game, putting up 5.9 yards per carry and 271 total yards with a touchdown.

Also big in that game was Alabama kicker, Adam Griffith, who made five field goals, including a fifty yarder. I bring up the kicker because Florida has had some serious issues in that department lately, including missing two field goal opportunities in the game against Florida State. In a game with a 16.5-point line, those field goals could matter.

Another dichotomous position battle between Alabama and Florida is that of quarterback. I spoke of Treon Harris’s limitations above, but senior Alabama quarterback, Jake Coker, is a complete and mature player. He has a season long completion percentage of 65.4%, 7.3 Y/A, and 137.6 QBR. Coker is of course helped in this regard by having a Heisman hopeful running back lining up next to him to be the primary threat.

 

Final Analysis
So, there is obviously a mismatch on paper in this game. But is it enough to consider laying 17 points? I think when you consider what Alabama has to lose in this game, and what Florida doesn’t, the answer is yes. Florida could be looking at another shutout with the way their offense has been playing as well. This game might start slow, but in the end the Alabama rushing attack will be too much to handle for a gassed Florida offense. Take Alabama at -16.5 as your college football pick

College Football Picks: Alabama -16.5 at Bookmaker

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