Rapid Reaction: Alabama reigns supreme
Quick thoughts from Alabama’s 42-13 win over Missouri to capture the SEC Championship.
What it means: Alabama is heading to the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide dominated the SEC Championship, showing everyone why they’re the No. 1 team in the nation. The offense looked unstoppable and the defense held Missouri in check, reclaiming their spot at the top of the SEC.
What I liked: The offense took what the defense gave it. Amari Cooper might have set an SEC Championship game record with 12 receptions, but he was mostly used as an extension of the running game on quick throws. With Missouri intent on keeping Cooper in check, Blake Sims used his other weapons expertly to wear down the Tigers defense. Nothing seemed forced as Alabama moved the ball up and down the field with ease, totaling 504 yards on the afternoon.
What I didn’t like: The secondary getting beat deep. Alabama’s front four did a fantastic job flushing Maty Mauk out of the pocket, but kept losing track of Jimmie Hunt on those scrambles. As a result, Hunt wound up with a career-high 169 yards, most of which came off of broken plays. Alabama held the Tigers to 313 yards, but too many of them came on plays that should have been shut down. That’s a major concern, as the rest of the teams expected to be in the College Football Playoff have potent passing offenses.
Key play: Blake Sims third-down QB draw late in the third. Sims had an excellent game throwing the ball, but showed what sets him apart from his predecessors with about three minutes to go in the game. On third-and-2, Kiffin dialed up a draw play for his mobile quarterback. Sims picked his way for a first down, setting up a big drive for receiver Christion Jones. With Jones’ score to cap off the drive, Alabama went up 28-13 and put the game out of reach.
Who’s the man: Blake Sims. The senior quarterback capped off his record-setting regular season with an expert game, going 23-for-27 passing for 262 yards and 2 TD. He sliced up the Missouri defense, going through his progressions and finding the open man every time he dropped back. Once Missouri lost Shane Ray, they had no chance of rattling Sims.
What’s next: The College Football Playoff awaits. Alabama finds out on Sunday who they’ll face in the semifinals, likely either TCU or Florida State in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.