Alabama Crimson Tide defeats Florida Gators 52-46 in thriller to take home SEC Championship
The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Florida Gators 52-46 in the SEC Championship game that, for the most part, Alabama had in hand. However, it ended with some drama.
In his post-game remarks, Tide head coach Nick Saban opened up his postgame press conference by saying, “Throughout the season to win 11 games is pretty phenomenal. It speaks to the togetherness on the team, with everybody buying in and trying to do the things they need to do to contribute to the team.”
Alabama came into Atlanta and dominated the game pretty much from start to finish, although there was a slight lull in the third quarter. But the Tide never seemed to be in any real trouble until the end of the game. Even then, the Tide defense sacked Gators quarterback Kyle Trask on his own side of the 50 for time to expire.
Saban emphasized the importance of winning the SEC Championship game, outlining, “I think winning the SEC is really a significant thing to me, always has been, and I certainly appreciate the coaches and everybody who contributed to developing and helping this team have success this year. Our coaching staff did a phenomenal job and we have a great support staff as well.”
Mac Jones may have solidified his Heisman hopes with an amazing performance in the biggest game of his life so far. The star quarterback for the Tide threw for 418 yards and five touchdowns.
Being a championship quarterback is something Jones can now put on his résumé. Saban said after the win, “You win an SEC Championship and you come back 25 years later and show your kids I was on that team. You can also show them the ring you get for doing it.”
There may be more in Jones’ future, but the same could be said for the Tide star wideout who also had an incredible night: Heisman hopeful DeVonta Smith. The electric wide receiver for the Tide played just as well as he has all season. Florida’s defense just couldn’t find any way to guard him as he racked up 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 15 catches.
However, the key to this game was perhaps Alabama running back Najee Harris. His running ability is what opened up the passing game for Bama.
If not for Harris’ hard-nosed running attack, the Jones to Smith collaboration wouldn’t have worked out as well as it did. Harris also helped tremendously in the passing game with five receptions for 67 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He added 178 yards on the ground and two more rushing touchdowns, as well.
As football fans know, any team’s rushing game is predicated on a strong offensive line. The leader of that unit for Alabama, Landon Dickerson, went down late in the fourth quarter with an injury.
On Dickerson’s unfortunate injury, Saban said, “He has a knee injury. We don’t know the extent of it, but we will do an MRI tomorrow and find out. It’s pretty serious I think, but we don’t know how serious.”
This could be a huge loss for Bama as the playoffs approach if he can’t return to play.
Alabama’s defense looked good in the first half, but the unit was spotty at best in the second hald. That defense was still good enough to get the job done against one of the best passing attacks in the nation.
Whenever the Tide needed their defense to step up, they did just that. Kyle Trask still had a good game, throwing for 408 yards on 26 passes and adding three touchdowns through the air.
Saban expected a dog fight from the gators.
The legendary coach stated, “I expected that was exactly what would happen in this game. With the quarterback who does a fabulous job. They have a really good receiving core, but 84 and 1 are really good mismatch players … when you do get them guarded you get pass interference because they are just hard to play.”
Tight end Kyle Pitts for Florida at times looked like he was going to start exposing the Tide, but other than a few big plays, he was doubled up by the Bama secondary.
When discussing the Gators after the game, Saban added, “I can’t say enough good things about their team. They certainly had a lot of competitive character to keep fighting and giving themselves a chance to win. I mean they were an onside kick away from having a chance to win.”
The Tide offense was just too good for the Gators’ defense. Florida had no answers for the Tide air-raid attack that Alabama has made famous in the SEC.
The no-nonsense Alabama coach ended his post-game talk on a sweet note, stating, “I’d like to thank everybody.”
Talking to the journalists, he added, “You guys have done a really good job promoting our players this year and giving them a lot of self-gratification for their efforts and I know they appreciate it, and we appreciate it from a team standpoint. Thank you.”
Saban was proud of his team’s win in the SEC Championship, as he should be. Yet, it is easy to tell his eyes are now set on the College Football Playoff and the National Championship Game.
Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: email@example.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.