Alabama Defends #1 Spot Against MissouriAdded - Dec. 6, 2014 - Comments
Does Alabama deserve to be ranked #1 in the college football playoff rankings? Well, that's a matter of opinion, but this team brings a seven-game winning streak at a head of steam into the SEC championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday. The Crimson Tide scored dramatic wins over Mississippi State and LSU, and then last week in the Iron Bowl, they rallied from a double-digit deficit to score a 55-44 victory over Auburn. However, in that game Alabama showed its defensive vulnerability, giving up 630 total yards.
They are 14.5-point favorites in his championship encounter, but the team they are facing can be a dangerous bunch. The Missouri Tigers finished the year with a 10-2 straight-up record, although admittedly they did not play an extremely tough schedule. The Tigers lost to Indiana and Georgia (the latter by a 34-0 score) and were unimpressive in some other efforts. But maybe they are hitting their stride at the moment. Last week they had to take on an Arkansas team that had scored two straight shutouts over nationally-ranked SEC opponents, and banged out a 21-14 victory. They are appearing in the SEC championship game for the second straight season.
One of the pleasant surprises for Alabama this season has been Blake Sims, the fifth-year senior quarterback who until last week had been picked off only four times. However, he threw three interceptions against Auburn, and undoubtedly Missouri is going to try to bring all the heat they can upon him. They are more than capable of doing so, behind bookend pass rushers Shane Ray and Markus Golden. As a team, the Tigers have 40 sacks. So it is obviously incumbent upon the Tide to get that running game well-established. Of course, that might not be so easy either, as Missouri has permitted only 3.2 yards per rushing attempt.
The best offensive weapon on the field is the amazing Amari Cooper, Alabama's wide receiver who caught 13 passes for 224 yards last week against Auburn. For the season, he is up to 103 receptions, and may earn himself a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation. He may not win that award, but he'd gladly trade that experience for spot in the national title game. Alabama would likely be the #1 seed if they win this one, and that means that they would have the first playoff game in the Sugar Bowl. For a team that has won three championships in the last five years, nothing less than aiming for the top would be satisfactory.