Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:48 AM
Alabama vs. Florida Predictions, Odds, Preview
- December 19, 2020
- By Brian Edwards
ATLANTA -- Florida and Alabama will collide in the SEC Championship Game for the 10th time since the event was created in 1992. The Crimson Tide is 5-4 overall against the Gators, who won three of the first four games from 1992-2008 but have lost three in a row.
In fact, Alabama has beaten UF six straight times, with three of those wins coming in the regular season. Nick Saban is seeking his seventh SEC title during his 14-year tenure at ‘Bama.
Dan Mullen was UF’s offensive coordinator for two SEC championships in 2006 and 2008, but this is his first appearance as a head coach.
SEC Championship Betting Resources
- Week 16 Matchup: SEC Championship
- Expert Picks: Vegas Insiders
- Venue: Mercedes-benz Stadium
- Location: Atlanta, Georgia
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020
- Time: CBS
- TV: 8:00 p.m. ET
- Bet: BetMGM | BetRivers | FanDuel | PointsBet | All
SEC Championship Betting Odds
- Spread: Alabama -17
- Money-Line: Alabama -900, Florida +600
- Total: 74.5
Odds Subject to Change
How to Handicap Florida vs. Alabama
Alabama has won seven of its games by margins of 28 points or more. The Crimson Tide’s closest games have been wins by 15 (63-48 at Ole Miss), 17 (41-24 vs. Georgia) and 19 (38-19 at Missouri) points. With Gus Malzahn’s dismissal at Auburn this past Sunday, only one SEC head coach has beaten Saban. That would be Ed Orgeron, who has done so only once during LSU’s unbeaten 2019 campaign when the Tigers won 46-41 in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama has won 27 consecutive games against the SEC East since Steve Spurrier coached up Stephen Garcia to have the game of his life in a 35-21 South Carolina home win over the Tide in 2010. (Spurrier, by the way, went 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS in head-to-head matchups with Saban, with his teams outscoring Saban’s by a 140-54 margin.) Only three of Alabama’s 27 wins over the SEC East have been of the one-possession variety.
This might be Saban’s best team ever. Although he’s won six national titles (one at LSU in 2003 and five at ‘Bama since 2009), Saban’s ’09 squad that went 14-0 and beat Texas 37-21 in the BCS Championship Game is the only one that finished the season undefeated.
Alabama junior quarterback Mac Jones has completed 76.4 percent of his passes for 3,321 yards with a 27/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Despite losing Jaylen Waddle, who is one of the most dynamic players in all of college football and is apparently on track to return in the College Football Playoff, the Tide’s offense hasn’t missed a beat.
Senior WR DeVonta Smith has been unstoppable, hauling in 83 receptions for 1,327 yards and 15 TDs. Smith is third in the nation in all-purpose yards (1,559) and tops among players who have played 10 games or fewer. He also has a rushing TD and a punt return for a TD.
Sophomore WR John Metchie has elevated his game and looks the part of the program’s next elite wideout. Metchie has caught 40 balls for 720 yards and six TDs.
Senior RB Najee Harris has 1,084 rushing yards and 22 TDs while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He also has 27 catches for 249 yards. For his career, Harris has 3,461 rushing yards to rank third among Alabama’s all-time leaders. Harris needs only 131 rushing yards to surpass Shaun Alexander (3,565) and Derrick Henry (3,591).
Alabama is ranked fifth in the nation in total offense, sixth in passing yards, 40th in rushing yards and third in scoring with its 49.5 points-per-game average. The Crimson Tide is ranked 11th nationally in scoring defense (16.8 PPG), 18th at defending the run, 57th versus the pass and 27th in total ‘D.’
Florida is ranked No. 1 in the country in passing yards, eighth in total offense and 12th in scoring with its 41.2 PPG average. However, the Gators have struggled with their ground game, ranking 100th nationally (127.1 yards per game).
Florida QB Kyle Trask has enjoyed a dream season, connecting on 70.2 percent of his throws for 3,717 yards with a 40/5 TD-INT ratio. The fifth-year senior also has a pair of rushing TDs.
Kadarius Toney has upped his NFL Draft stock immensely with a breakout senior campaign. He’s fifth in the SEC in all-purpose yards with 1,228. Toney paces the Gators in receptions (62) and receiving yards (831) and has nine TD grabs. He also has 146 rushing yards, one TD and an 8.6 YPC average. Finally, Toney has one punt return for a TD.
UF junior TE Kyle Pitts has been limited to seven games, but he has been the best player on the field when he’s been in uniform. ESPN’s Todd McShay described Pitts “as looking great” during warm-ups before last week’s shocking home loss to LSU. Nevertheless, he was described as a “healthy scratch” and didn’t suit up.
Mullen has said Pitts will play Saturday vs. Alabama. Also, the Gators are expected to get back a pair of defensive starters in senior DE Jeremiah Moon and senior safety Shawn Davis. Moon has been out with a foot injury since UF’s 44-28 win over Georgia on Nov. 7. Davis has missed back-to-back games with an undisclosed injury.
Pitts has 36 catches for 641 yards and 11 TDs. In four games, Moon has recorded 14 tackles, two QB hurries, one sack and one-half tackle for loss. Davis is the Gators’ fourth-leading tackler despite missing three games. He has produced 40 tackles, two TFL’s, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one pass broken up.
Trask has an array of weapons beyond Toney and Pitts. There’s senior WR Trevon Grimes, who has 34 receptions for 511 yards and eight TDs. Sophomore WR Jacob Copeland has 21 catches for 429 yards and three TDs, while WR Justin Shorter has caught 23 balls for 246 yards and three TDs.
You could make the argument that this is UF’s worst defense in three decades. The Gators are ranked 78th nationally at defending the pass, 50th in total defense, 45th versus the run and 48th in scoring ‘D’ (26.3 PPG).
Betting Analysis – Florida Gators
Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)
- 2020: 8-2 SU, 4-5-1 ATS, 6-4 O/U
Florida is mired in a 0-3-1 ATS slump. The Gators have been underdogs just once this year, thumping UGA 44-28 as three-point puppies. They’re 5-1-2 ATS with four outright wins as underdogs during Dan Mullen’s three-year tenure.
This is UF’s richest underdog spot on Mullen’s watch and only their second game as a double-digit ‘dog. UF lost a 42-28 decision at LSU as a 14-point road underdog last season.
The look-ahead line at several books before UF’s loss to LSU was anywhere from Alabama -12 to -13.5 last week. Then on Sunday night, most spots sent out 16.5 or 17 as their initial number. The lowest number seen for the total Sunday was 72.5, but all shops were at 74 or 74.5 points by Monday afternoon.
The ‘over’ is 6-4 overall for the Gators, who are looking at their highest total of the season in this spot. However, if the game goes ‘over’ with the combined points getting into the mid-to-upper 70s, it won’t be the first time for this UF squad.
As a matter of fact, in the two games Florida has played against teams with offenses that are somewhat as prolific as Alabama’s, we saw extremely high-scoring affairs. I’m talking about UF’s 51-35 win at Ole Miss for 86 combined points and its 41-38 loss at Texas A&M for 79. The Gators also had a 63-35 home win over Arkansas for 98 combined points.
A few betting shops have Trask’s ‘over/under’ for passing yards at 370.5. He has thrown at least 371 yards in five of UF’s 10 contests.
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith is beginning to climb up the Heisman Trophy odds list entering the SEC Championship. (AP)
Betting Analysis - Alabama Crimson Tide
- 2020: 10-0 SU, 8-2 ATS, 6-4 O/U
Alabama has covered the spread in seven straight games, including last week’s 52-3 win at Arkansas as a 28-point road favorite. The 55 combined points fell ‘under’ the 70.5-point total.
The 17-point spread is the second-shortest for Saban’s team this year. The only lower one was when Alabama was a six-point home ‘chalk’ vs. Georgia in a 41-24 triumph. ‘Bama was -18 in a 52-24 home win over Texas A&M on Oct. 3.
Some shops have Jones listed with a total of 362.5 for passing yards. The Jacksonville Bolles High School product threw for 435, 417, 417 and 387 in four of the Tide’s first five games, but Jones has only thrown for more than 363 yards once (385 at LSU) since then.
Other spots have Smith’s total for receiving yards at 155.5. Smith has produced 164 receiving yards or more in five of 10 games.
The ‘over’ is 6-4 overall for the Tide. The only total Alabama has seen in the 70s was 74 points at Ole Miss, where the result was an easy ‘over’ with 111 combined points. After four consecutive ‘overs’ to start the season, the ‘under’ is on a 4-2 run in the Tide’s last six games.
In 1992 and 1993, the first two SEC Championship Games were played at Legion Field in Birmingham. The undefeated Crimson Tide had to punt to Florida late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 21-21 in the first encounter. For nearly two decades after the ’92 campaign, I maintained that this Alabama defense was the best of my lifetime, but I changed that stance in 2011 and handed that label over to the Tide’s 2011 stop unit, the one that gave LSU a bagel in the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans.
Anyhow, on that afternoon in The ‘Ham, the HBC created a special ‘ball play’ that worked like a charm for four quarters. He would have All-SEC QB Shane Matthews drop back to pass looking downfield and then toss a little underhanded scoop to Erricht Rhett, who would have all kinds of running room with Alabama’s DEs rushing the QB wide off the edge.
Spurrier had dialed up enough quality plays to have the ball in a tie game at crunch time. However, on the first play of UF’s drive, Alabama CB Antonio Langham jumped a short out route for a pick-six that led to a 28-21 victory. The Gators covered as 10-point underdogs, and Tide went on to smash Miami in the Sugar Bowl to win its first national title since the Bear Bryant Era.
(By the way, I made a guest appearance on Matthews’ podcast Friday morning, entering the fray at around the 8:30 mark. The guest after Yours Truly? Langham!)
Florida avenged that loss in ’93, with safety Michael Gilmore garnering Defensive MVP honors by making a sick interception. QB Terry Dean played well and the Gators won 28-13 as four-point ‘chalk.’ They met again – this time at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta – in 1994 one week after the infamous ‘Choke at Doak’ when FSU rallied from a 31-3 fourth-quarter deficit to tie Florida, 31-31.
Despite the gut-wrenching tie the week before (I was there and it was crushing!), I made it to Atlanta the next week to witness UF capture a thrilling 24-23 win. Trailing 23-17 midway through the fourth quarter, Spurrier’s offense has been stymied for most of the second half.
On the first play of the drive, Spurrier purposely had Danny Wuerffel hand off to Elijah Williams, who made a short gain. Then Wuerffel immediately limped off the field. UF had an outstanding backup QB in Erik Kresser, who would transfer to Marshall and set all sorts of records with Randy Moss later in his career. With ‘Bama expecting the backup suddenly coming off the bench to hand off on a running play, Spurrier directed Kresser to throw deep and he hit Reidel Anthony for a big gain. A few plays later, Spurrier dialed up a double pass for another big gainer.
Wuerffel capped the 10-play, 80-yard drive with a short TD pass to Chris Doering. The Gators got a fourth-down stop at about midfield in the final minute to win 24-23 as seven-point favorites.
In 1996, UF won a 45-30 decision thanks to six TD passes from the Heisman Trophy winner, Wuerffel, who led the Gators to their first national title in a 52-20 revenge shellacking of FSU in New Orleans a month later.
In 2008, Tim Tebow was the catalyst in rallying UF to a spread cover with a pair of fourth-down TD passes in a 31-20 victory as a 10-point favorite. Again, the Gators went on to win their third ‘natty’ a month later over Oklahoma in Miami. (In case you’re wondering, I was at both of those games.)
Since then, however, it has been all Alabama and then some in this rivalry. In 2009, Florida star DE Carlos Dunlap got a DUI during the week of the game. Alabama proceeded to thump UF 32-13 and before the night was over in Gainesville several hours later, Shelley Meyer was dialing ‘911’ to send an ambulance for her husband.
A month later, I broke the story here at VegasInsider that Urban Meyer was suddenly retiring, beating the national media to the scoop by 4-5 hours. A few days later, he changed his mind and Alabama won its first national title on Saban’s watch. One year later, Alabama smashed UF again in Tuscaloosa and before the 2010 season was finished, Saban had run Meyer out of the SEC and into a one-year hiatus that Meyer initially dubbed as ‘retirement’ to go watch his daughter’s volleyball games.
As you can see in this by-line from me right here, this space called complete BS on that nonsense from the jump. Meyer was back in college football as Ohio St.’s head coach one season later.
During the Dark Ages Era of SEC East football in 2015 and 2016, Alabama beat Florida in back-to-back seasons by scores of 29-15 and 54-16 during Jim McElwain’s forgettable tenure.
Notable Betting Trends
-- The ‘over’ has cashed at a 6-3 clip in the nine SEC Championship Games pitting these storied programs against each other.
-- Alabama is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 games as a double-digit favorite.
-- Alabama is 5-7 ATS in 12 SEC Championship Game appearances.
SEC Championship Predictions
- Score Prediction: Alabama 52 Florida 41
- Best Bet: Over 74.5
- Best Bet: Alabama Team Total Over 45
- Best Prop Bet: Over 370.5 Kyle Trask’s passing yards
SEC Betting History Results & Notes
|Betting Results - Favorites vs. Underdogs - Total (Over-Under)|
History - Betting Notes
- The West holds a 16-12 all-time record versus the East
- Favorites have won 23 of the first 28 SEC Championships
- The point-spread has mattered, with underdogs covering 13 of the 28 games
- LSU (2001) and Alabama (1999) pulled off the largest upsets in SEC title game as seven-point 'dogs
- The 'over' has gone 17-11
|SEC Championship History|
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