5 bold predictions for the SEC Championship Game
One more game in the SEC schedule — the title game. So we’ve got to dig deep to get bold, because here’s the bottom line. With Alabama roughly a 24-point favorite, nobody is going to be insane, I mean BOLD, enough to forecast a Gators win. So take for granted that everybody expects the Tide to be the SEC champions. What can we tell you that’s still bold? Glad you asked …
1. Florida will score more non-offensive touchdowns than Alabama: Alabama has scored 12 non-offensive touchdowns this season. The Tide started their ridiculous consecutive-game streak during last year’s playoff run. It only recently ended.
Florida can’t match Alabama’s total, but the Gators have returned three interceptions for touchdowns, and Antonio Callaway took a punt back for six in last year’s SEC Championship Game against Alabama.
If Florida is going to pull off the stunning upset, it needs to find multiple ways to score. Non-offensive touchdowns would be an excellent place to start.
2. Florida will do better than most but fall short of 100 yards rushing: Florida’s ground game is pivotal — and inconsistent. In six games, the Gators have been held to 107 rushing yards or fewer. Their record in those games is 3-3. Alabama allows 68.7 rushing yards per game. Nobody has rushed for more than 114 against them in 2016. Suggesting Florida will would be insane, but the Gators will finish with more than 70. Advantage, Tide.
3. Austin Appleby will throw for more yards than Jalen Hurts: The Florida pass defense held opponents to about 20 yards per game less than Alabama. The Tide struggled (somewhat) with teams that had decent passing games — and if Florida wants to capitalize, they have to get Callaway involved early and often.
Look for Austin Appleby to target Callaway a dozen times and have eight catches.
Nick Saban is going to keep this offensive plan as vanilla as possible with the CFP games upcoming; Hurts won’t be asked to do nearly as much with his arm as Appleby.
4. The Gators could make some headway on special teams: Unlike most teams Alabama has faced, Florida has to potential to make some plays in the kicking game. Eddy Piniero has been impressive, and has one of the strongest legs in the conference. Likewise to punter Johnny Townsend. If Florida can keep the game close, their kickers could help them down the stretch. Big if.
5. Alabama will not cover: Look, this might not be super bold. But this is Alabama. Which games have the Tide struggled in this year? Well, the 5-point win over Ole Miss, but then, Austin Appleby isn’t Chad Kelly. And the 10-0 game against LSU. Here’s the rub: Florida’s run defense is good enough to slow Alabama to a crawl, and their offense will hit more big plays than LSU. Don’t believe me? Well, they beat them by 6 at Baton Rouge two weeks ago. Not saying Florida wins, but saying this is still a game in the fourth quarter, and Bama wins by around 10 points.