After wobbling a bit in the third quarter, Alabama regained its balance. And, in doing so, claimed yet another conference title and a spot at the first-ever playoff table in one fell swoop.
Leading 21-3 at halftime, Alabama watched as Missouri cut the lead 21-13 late in the third quarter before Bama pulled away and claimed a 42-13 win in the 2014 SEC championship game. The Tide has now won two of the last three SEC championship games and five total (in nine appearances) since the conference went to this format for the 1992 season. Overall, the Tide claims 28 league titles (24 SEC, four Southern Conference).
This was Mizzou’s second consecutive loss in the conference championship game. In those games, the Tigers have been outscored 94-55.
Blake Sims was superb, completing 23-of-27 passes for 262 yards and touchdowns. Most importantly, perhaps, is that the senior tossed zero interceptions. Senior’s 85.2 completion percentage broke the SEC title-game record of 77.1 set by Auburn’s Jason Campbell in 2004.
Amari Cooper caught 12 of those passes, an SEC title-game record. Derrick Henry led the Tide with 141 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while T.J. Yeldon chipped in a pair of rushing touchdowns.
The Tide’s defense certainly played a role i the win, limiting the Tigers to an average of 1.8 yards on their 23 carries; Mizzou came in averaging 4.5 ypc.
Were it not for some playground football, the final margin could’ve been a lot worse.
Of Mizzou’s 313 yards of offense, 158 of them on what could be best described as four prayers offered up by Maty Mauk‘s right arm. Two of those in third quarter — one 63 yards, the other 47 — helped lead to 10 Tiger points and, at least temporarily, closing the gap.
A 14-0 run to close out the game, though, ended any upset hopes the Tigers entertained.
All of the sudden, and after entering Week 15 with many thinking chaos could/would reign, it appears that three of the four playoff spots have been claimed. Alabama and Oregon, Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, have most certainly locked up two of the spots as they are, by a comfortable margin, the two best teams in college football. More than likely, the Tide will play in the Sugar Bowl semifinal while the Ducks will get the Rose Bowl semifinal.
No. 3 TCU obliterated 2-10 Iowa State earlier today, leading most to assume that they’ll hold serve and earn the third spot. Of course, the Kansas State-Baylor game — the Bears beat the Horned Frogs earlier this year — could prompt the committee to reconsider. Another factor to consider: No. 20 Oklahoma’s overtime loss to Oklahoma State will very likely rob both TCU and Baylor of a win vs. a ranked team, weakening both of their résumés. That could bode well for two teams right on the heels of TCU.
As for the fourth spot? You would think that, with a win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, unbeaten and fourth-ranked Florida State would claim it. An FSU loss, however, would bring No. 5 Ohio State (if it beats Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game) and No. 6 Baylor (if it handles K-State) into the equation and the ACC would likely be shutout out of a playoff berth.