Alabama vs. Florida College Football Recap
It’s raining confetti on Alabama’s parade as they cruised to 29-15 victory over Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship game. The Crimson Tide’s Derrick Henry delivered a Heisman Trophy-worthy performance along with a superior dominating defensive plays. Simply put, the Crimson Tide’s ability to dominating their opponents enabled them to overpower the Gators and clinch a playoff berth. No surprise that Alabama’s ability to impose its dominating style of play has helped them be ranked No.2 in the nation. This echoed in quarterback Jake Coker’s statement; “As tight as this group is and how hard we play together and how we have each other’s backs, I’m real confident in this team. I think we can do whatever we want to do, based on how we practice and prepare. It’s going to be an exciting playoff.”
Many fans felt that Alabama’s title hopes were on the ropes in mid-September when five turnovers allowed Mississippi to pull off a 43-37 upset at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Since that loss, The Tide was able to regroup and focus their game and bounce back to win 10 straight. Their impressive 12-1 record will likely earn them a spot in the national semifinals at either the College Football Playoff Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic or College Football Playoff Capital One Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
Derrick Henry was outstanding during the game certainly capping his Heisman Trophy campaign rushing for 189 yards for 44 carries against Florida’s defense which is ranked as one of the nation’s best. The Tide’s quarterback, Jake Coker also contributed immensely making 18 completions out of 26 throws for an amazing 2014 yards gain with 2 touchdowns to secure the win. The Crimson Tide’s defensive maligned Florida’s offensive unit, which were held to 3 yards offense gain in the second and third quarters.
However, Florida, who came into the game as an 18-point underdog, briefly grabbed a 7-2 lead on Antonio Callaway’s 85-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the second quarter, spurring Alabama’s domination to take over.
Heisman Trophy favorite, Derrick Henry improved his chances to win with an MVP showing, due to the fact that his game play efforts put went a long way to secure the Alabama win. “My main focus is on finishing and helping the team win,” Henry said. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to help this team win.” Henry tied He tied the SEC record for touchdowns in a season (23) and eclipsed Herschel Walker’s 34-year-old conference mark for rushing yards in a year, pushing his total to 1,986 with likely at least one more game still to come.
Both teams did not disappoint fans, who expected a defensive slugfest; although through the course of the game it became apparent that Alabama was the superior team. The Tide led 12-7 at the break, scoring a safety off a blocked punt, settling for a field goal after a long drive, and turning it over deep in Florida territory.
From then on, it was apparent that the Gators simply couldn’t focus enough offensive strength to make it a game. Their aerial attack consisted of numerous wobbly passes which were dropped, in the end, Harris was 9-of-24 for 165 yards with one interception. The Gators also had a woeful running game, which was held to 21 yards rushing. Their only offensive score coming on Treon Harris’ 46-yard pass to C.J. Worton at the very end of the game. Florida will likely settle for a spot in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Yet the sun still shines bright over the Gators an coach Jim McElwain pointed out; “We’re a program on the rise, we’ll have a good football team here — a lot of them — in the future.”
The Crimson Tide on the other hand, complemented its pound-and-ground offense with a couple of huge passing plays. Calvin Ridley leaped between two Florida defenders to pull down a 55-yard pass at the Florida 2, setting up Henry’s touchdown. ArDarius Stewart made an even more spectacular grab in the third quarter, going up in traffic to snare a 32-yard scoring pass before flipping to the turf on his head. Yet Stewart hopped right back up, a clear sign that no one was going to keep this team down. Coker then finished off the Gators with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Richard Mullaney with 8:50 remaining.
The defense turned in quite a performance for coordinator Kirby Smart, who is expected to be named head coach at Georgia in the next few days. But whatever happens with Smart, Alabama’s defense still has some goals left to achieve.
The Tide are likely heading back to the College Football Playoff.