Alabama Mauls Missouri: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
By the time Alabama and Missouri played in the SEC Championship game, Oregon had already had time to celebrate and savor their 51-13 win over Arizona. As the Ducks settled in to see what the top ranked Crimson Tide would do against a Tigers team that had not allowed a team to rack up 400 yards against them all season, all Alabama did was deliver a 42-13 win and a erased doubt who the top team in the country is heading into the final college football playoff ranking.
Well, maybe the top team. Oregon certainly makes a strong case.
The win in Atlanta assures the Crimson Tide of an appearance in the playoff to determine a college football champion, and raises the question again of who is better – a team from the SEC or the best team out west in the Pac 12?
While the Ducks’ Marcus Mariota did his best Heisman effort with five scores on Friday night, ‘Bama countered with their own candidate, wide out Amari Cooper, who caught 12 passes for 83 yards but did not score in the game. Sophomore running back Derrick Henry, a potential Heisman candidate in 2015, rushed for 141 yards and two scores and TJ Yeldon set the tone for the game with two scores in the first half of his own.
Here is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of this game.
THE GOOD- RUN, BAMA, RUN
The Crimson Tide looked to its most feared rivals to get an idea of how to come out swinging in the first half. The quick strike offense kept the Tigers off guard for the majority of the half. TJ Yeldon may have only had 35 yards rushing in the first half, but his two touchdowns were more than enough to set the tone for the game.
Unlike last week in the 55-44 game against Auburn, Alabama used the run to control the clock. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin did, however, use the Tigers brand of offense to beat the Tigers early and often.
In the second half of the game, Derrick Henry became the focus of the rushing offense with 141 yards and two scores of his own. The rushing game kept the Missouri defense off balance all day.
THE BAD – A FALLEN DEFENSE
The Tigers did not have an answer for the offense all night, and it showed.
Missouri has now played in the SEC championship game for the second time in three years this Saturday. The Tigers joined the SEC in 2011 and in three years, they have been to the SEC title game more times than South Carolina, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt combined. What makes this accomplishment even greater is the fact that Missouri has done this with the least amount of 4 and 5 star players in the SEC. From 2011-2014, Missouri signed just 12 players rated 4 stars or better by ESPN's recruiting nation. Just ahead of the Tigers were Mississippi State (15), Kentucky (17), and Vanderbilt (19). Alabama, the team the Tigers will face in the SEC championship game, signed 76 players of the same caliber in that span.
THE UGLY – MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
Jimmy Hunt was a beast, catching six passes for 169 yards on the night. The Tigers managed to stay in the game thanks to Maty Mauk's deep passing. He completed throws of 63, 47, 32 and 26 yards, one of them after a Johnny Manziel-like scramble in which he threw back across his body running to his left. It wasn’t enough as Alabama use the passing game to set up the run in a lopsided win.