In & around SEC football


Iron Bowl Review 

Alabama kicker Adam Griffith connected on all five of his field goal attempts – including a 50-yarder before halftime – and the Crimson Tide knocked off Auburn, 29-13, in the 80th Iron Bowl. Derrick Henry carried the ball 46 times for 271 yards – both the highest in his career – and he is now the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. 

The first half was a field goal battle between Gri-ffith and Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson, who is a finalist for the Lou Groza Award. Griffith went 4-4 in the first half, while Carlson went 2-3 with a miss from 48 yards. Alabama led 12-6 at the half, and the Tigers finally had a touchdown drive in the third quarter to take a 19-6 lead.

Later in the quarter, Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson connected with receiver Jason Smith on a long touchdown that Smith bobbled multiple times before hauling it in and outracing Alabama defenders to the end zone. It was the only AU touchdown of the day, and the rest of the Tigers’ drives either ended in punts or field goals. 

Alabama’s offense sputtered in the red zone most of the afternoon, but the Crimson Tide was able to rely on Griffith consistently throughout the game. Jake Coker was 17-for-26 with 179 yards and one touchdown, while Johnson was 10-for-23 with 170 yards and one score. 

The Crimson Tide improved to 11-1 overall and 7-1 in league play, while Auburn dropped to 6-6 overall and 2-6 in the SEC. Alabama will face Florida in the SEC title game on Saturday (Dec. 5) in Atlanta. 

SEC rankings

1. Alabama (11-1, 7-1)

2. Ole Miss (9-3, 6-2)

3. LSU (8-3, 5-3)

4. Florida (10-2, 7-1)

5. Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4)

6. Arkansas (7-5, 5-3)

7. Tennessee (8-4, 5-3)

8. Georgia (9-3, 5-3)

9. Auburn (6-6, 2-6)

10. Texas A&M (8-4, 4-4)

11. Vanderbilt (4-8, 2-6)

12. Kentucky (5-7, 2-6)

13. Missouri (5-7, 1-7)

14. South Carolina (3-9, 1-7)

SEC Championship Preview and Prediction

Week 12: 8-1; season: 84-27

For the eighth time in SEC history, Alabama and Florida will meet in the SEC Championship Game. The Gators are 4-3 against the Tide in previous meetings, although Alabama won the last matchup, 32-13, in 2009. 

This year’s game has the potential to be the most lopsided of any SEC title game in league history. Though Jim McElwain has done an excellent job in his first season as Florida coach, the Gators’ 10-2 record is a bit deceiving. The SEC East was as bad as it’s ever been this year, and while Florida deserves credit for winning it and making it to Atlanta, the Gators have not been playing good football over the past the last month. 

The Gators narrowly de-feated Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic and were embarrassed by rival Florida State last weekend. 

Defensively, Florida is still among the best in the country, but offensively, the Gators are putrid. Part of that can be blamed on the midseason loss of quarterback Will Grier, who violated the NCAA’s substance abuse policy. Florida’s inefficiency on offense doesn’t bode well for its chances on Saturday, as they are going up against probably the best defense in all of college football. Alabama might not be able to score much on Florida, but the Tide will rely on Derrick Henry in the second half and will cruise to victory in the Georgia Dome. Prediction: Alabama 27, Florida 0. 

Extra Points

Despite a 9-3 season, Georgia decided to part ways with head coach Mark Richt after 15 seasons. The Bulldogs defeated two of their biggest rivals in Auburn and Georgia Tech to end the season, but it appears that Richt’s fate was sealed after the 27-3 loss to Florida on Halloween. Barring any late changes, Richt is expected to be the next head coach at the University of Miami, his alma mater.

It was reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this week that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will be the next head coach at Georgia. Smart played defensive back at Georgia in the late 1990s, and he has been Alabama’s defensive coordinator since 2008. It’s unclear if Smart will coach with Alabama in the postseason, or if he’s bringing any Alabama staff members with him to Athens.

A week ago, it seemed as if it was almost a certainty that LSU would relieve head coach Les Miles of his duties following the Tigers’ game against Texas A&M. However, it was announced after the game that Miles would return to Baton Rouge next season. LSU defeated Texas A&M, 19-7, to finish the year at 8-3.

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