If Alabama’s defense plays in the second half the way it did in the first, you can go ahead and stick a fork in the game; it’s done.
Through two quarters of play in the 2014 SEC championship game, ‘Bama has limited Missouri’s offense to just 108 total yards in taking a 21-3 lead into the halftime locker room. Mizzou was limited to just three first downs, the first of which didn’t come until late in the first quarter on its third possession, and didn’t cross midfield until there were less than 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
58 of the Tigers’ yards came on a pair pass plays in which quarterback Maty Mauk was flushed out of the pocket. The running game was nonexistent as the Tide held the Tigers to 21 yards on 10 carries.
The Tide, meanwhile, rolled to 248 yards of offense against a very good Tiger defense. A one-yard T.J. Yeldon touchdown run on the game’s opening possession put UA up early, a lead that they then extended on a 58-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims to DeAndrew White early in the second quarter. Another Yeldon run late in the second quarter, this one from two yards out, pushed the lead to 21-3.
Sims was nearly flawless in the passing game the first 30 minutes, completing 15-of-17 passes 160 yards and the touchdown. The first-year starter wasn’t perfect, though, as he fumbled twice in a span of three plays. Fortunately for all UA parties involved, both of those fumbles were recovered by the Tide.
All-American Amari Cooper caught 10 first-half passes, just two shy of breaking Florida wide receiver Reidel Anthony‘s SEC championship game record of 11 set in 1996. Those 10 receptions, though, went for just 61 yards as the passes to the receiver essentially served as extended handoffs. Cooper did set a first-half record: single-season receptions. The junior now has 113 catches in 2014, breaking the mark of 112 by Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews last season.
Adding further insult to scoreboard injury, Mizzou will be without one of the best defensive ends in the country for the remainder of the game. With 11:48 remaining in the second quarter, Shane Ray was — correctly, mind you — called for targeting on a hit to Sims’s chin well after he connected with White on the long touchdown pass. Ray came into the game tied for fourth in the country in sacks (13.5) and tied for third in tackles for loss (20.5).