Alabama 7-14-0-21 — 42
Missouri 0-3-10-0 — 13
Alabama certainly appears ready for the College Football Playoffs.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide got off to a fast start and finished stronger to put No. 16 Missouri away 42-13 in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
With the win, Alabama is almost certain to maintain its No. 1 position when the final CFP rankings are released Sunday. The top 4 teams will advance to the first-ever round of semifinals, which will be played Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The winners will meet on Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the National Championship.
Alabama (12-1) jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead before Missouri (10-3) cut it to a one-score game at 21-13 in the 3rd quarter. But the 4th quarter belonged to the Crimson Tide as they outscored the Tigers 21-0 to win their 24th SEC Championship.
Nick Saban got his third conference title with Alabama, with the others coming in 2009 and 2012.
The Crimson Tide outgained the Tigers 504 to 313 and held the time of possession edge 36:43 to 23:17.
For a final box score and statistics, click here.
Alabama’s Amari Cooper Set The SEC Single-Season Reception Record
With 10 receptions in the first half, Alabama’s Amari Cooper set the SEC single-season reception record, breaking the mark held by former Vanderbilt standout and current Philadelphia Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews. Matthews had 112 catches in 2013 for the Commodores.
Cooper finished with an SEC Championship Game-record 12 receptions for 83 yards. On the season, he has 115 catches for 1,656 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Missouri Lost Shane Ray, The Team’s Best Defensive Player, on a Targeting Penalty
Missouri All-America defensive end candidate Shane Ray was ejected from the game in the first half for a targeting call on Alabama quarterback Blake Sims. Ray was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit and tossed out in the 2nd quarter.
The insult to injury, or perhaps in this case, the dejection to ejection: On the play, Sims connected with DeAndrew White for a 58-yard touchdown to give the Tide a 14-0 lead (see the below clip).
Ray was credited with a half sack of Sims in the game and entered the contest with an SEC-leading 13.5 quarterback takedowns.
Derrick Henry Ran All Over The Tigers in The 4th Quarter
Derrick Henry finished with 141 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries. He scored both touchdowns in the 4th quarter, when the Tide put the game away.
First, Henry burst through for a 26-yard touchdown to give Alabama a 35-13 lead midway through the quarter to cap a 90-yard drive.
Missouri’s Darius White fumbled on the ensuing possession and Landon Collins recovered, giving the ball back to Alabama at its own 38. Henry did it all from there. He carried the ball on each of the Tide’s 5 plays of the drive. Henry totaled 62 yards, including a 45-yarder (see the below clip), which set up his 1-yard score to give Alabama a 42-13 lead.
T.J. Yeldon also scored twice, a 1-yard plunge on the game’s opening possession and a 2-yarder to give the Tide a 21-3 lead at the half. He finished with 47 yards on 14 carries. The Crimson Tide ran for 242 yards in the game.
Alabama held Missouri to 43 rushing yards on 21 carries. Leading ground gainer Russell Hansbrough had just 21 yards on 13 carries and Marcus Murphy totaled 20 yards on 7 totes.
Crimson Tide Quarterback Blake Sims Was Named The Game’s MVP
Sims was outstanding all evening, completing 23 of 27 passes for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns while being named the game’s Most Valuable Player. He took a shot to the helmet from Ray, who was ejected, but completed a 58-yard TD pass to DeAndrew White. He also connected with Christion Jones on a 6-yard pass on the first play of the 4th quarter to give the Tide a 28-13 lead. Sims added a 17-yard run in the 4th.
White led Alabama with 4 catches for 101 yards and the score.
After a slow start, Maty Mauk put together a solid game for Missouri. Mauk was just 7-for-17 in the 1st half, but finished with 272 yards and a touchdown on 16 of 34 passing.
Mauk connected with Bud Sasser for a 1-yard score, the Tigers’ only touchdown of the game, on 4th down to cut Alabama’s lead to 21-10 early in the 3rd quarter. The TD was set up by a Jimmie Hunt 63-yard reception to the Tide 1. Mizzou almost turned the ball over when Mauk fumbled on 3rd down, but he recovered his own drop and hit Sasser on the next play.
Hunt led the Tigers with 6 receptions for 169 yards. His two biggest receptions came on scramble plays by Mauk. You can see them below.
Preview: No. 1 Alabama, No. 16 Set to Clash in SEC Championship Game
Another year, another division title for Gary Pinkel and his Missouri Tigers.
If you’re counting at home, this is their fifth since 2007, which is tied for the most of all teams in the Power 5 conferences over the past eight seasons. Pinkel won three division titles in the Big 12 (2007, 2008, 2010) and the Tigers have taken the last two SEC East crowns since moving to the conference in 2012.
Coupled with his school-record 165 wins, Pinkel is no stranger to success.
And neither is the guy who will be standing on the sideline across the field Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Alabama’s Nick Saban has matched Pinkel’s division title mark, leading the Crimson Tide to the outright crown or a share of the SEC West in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and, of course, this season.
But it’s Saban 3, Pinkel 0 in the national title race over that span. At No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings, another championship is on Alabama’s mind. As for the Tigers, they’re No. 16 and certain to be left out of the CFP Final Four.
So what’s on Mizzou’s mind is knocking off No. 1 and creating a little College Football Playoff chaos. History tells us Pinkel will have his Tigers ready for the challenge.
Alabama and Missouri meet for the SEC Championship at 4 p.m. Eastern on CBS.