What: Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 in the SEC) vs. Florida Gators (8-3, 6-2)
Rankings: Alabama is No. 1 in College Football Playoff, The Associated Press and Coaches polls. Florida is No. 15 in the CFP rankings, No. 15 in the AP Top 25 and No. 16 in the Coaches Poll.
When: 4 p.m. Eastern, Saturday
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Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Line: Alabama by 24
1. Three in a row: Alabama will look to become the second team to win three straight SEC titles with a victory over Florida in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday. Florida is the only other team to accomplish the feat, winning the title in four straight years from 1993-96. A victory would tie Alabama with Florida for most SEC titles with seven.
2. A familiar foe: Saturday’s matchup will be the ninth time Alabama and Florida have met in the SEC Championship Game. The teams squared off against each other in the first SEC Championship Game, with Alabama’s Antonio Langham returning an interception 27 yards for a touchdown to help the Tide beat the Gators 28-21. The two teams share a 4-4 record against each other in the game.
3. 25 for 25: Alabama will look to extend its nation’s best winning streak to 25 games by winning the 25th SEC Championship Game. The Tide’s last defeat came against Ole Miss last season. Alabama’s streak of 24 straight wins is the third longest in school history. Alabama has won 28 straight games two previous times in 1978-80 and 1991-93. The current streak is Alabama’s longest under head coach Nick Saban.
4. Making a Heisman case: With the Heisman race seemingly wide open, Saturday’s SEC Championship game provides a stage for a couple of Tide players to make their case for a trip to New York. Alabama’s two strongest candidates come in true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and senior defensive end Jonathan Allen. Hurts has completed a SEC-best 65.9 percent of his passes for 2,454 yards and 21 touchdowns with nine interceptions while adding 840 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Allen leads the team with 13 quarterback hurries to go with 11.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. The defensive lineman has also returned two fumbles for touchdowns.
Florida’s secondary vs. Alabama’s receivers: If Florida is going to pull off an upset, it will most likely by spurred by the performance of cornerbacks Jalen “Teez” Tabor and Quincy Wilson. The tandem is as good as any in the nation, as Tabor leads the Gators with four interceptions, while Wilson has tallied three on the season. Both defensive backs have returned an interception for a touchdown this season, and with its offense struggling, Florida might need a defensive touchdown or two Saturday. Alabama receivers ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley should provide a good matchup, as the Tide duo has combined for 111 receptions for 1,494 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.
Player of the week
Calvin Ridley, receiver, sophomore, 6-foot-1, 188 pounds: Ridley had a somewhat quiet day against Auburn last week, hauling in five receptions for 44 yards. That might actually be a good thing for the Tide, as the sophomore has seldom failed to go two straight games without a big performance this season. Excluding a three-game stretch against Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State, where he gained 27, 23 and 26 yards respectively, Ridley has yet to have back-to-back games with less than 50 yards. During last year’s SEC Championship Game against the Gators, the Florida native caught eight passes for 102 yards.
By the numbers
3: With three touchdowns Saturday, Hurts will break Alabama’s single-season record of 35 total touchdowns set by Blake Sims in 2014.
1: The amount of touchdowns Florida’s offense has scored over its last two games. That’s not good news for the Gators, as they face an Alabama defense that hasn’t given up a touchdown in more than a month, dating back to the third quarter of its Oct. 22 win over Texas A&M.
15: A victory over the Gators would give Alabama 15 straight wins over ranked teams, a streak dating back to a 38-10 win over Georgia last season. During the streak, Alabama is 7-0 against top 10 teams and 3-0 against top 5 opponents. The Tide is a 24-point favorite this week against No. 15 Florida.
118: Florida is tied for No. 118 in the nation with just 135 offensive plays netting 10 or more yards. To put that in perspective, only nine teams have fewer such plays. Alabama ranks No. 40 with 185 plays of 10 or more yards.
After watching Auburn fail to find the end zone last week against Alabama, Florida can expect to run into some of the same problems. The Gators rank No. 114 in total offense, averaging 352.7 yards per game and are running up against a defense many are calling one of the best of all time. Unless Florida can turn things around quickly, this one could get ugly.
Alabama 37, Florida 9