SEC Championship: Alabama vs. Missouri Keys to Victory


Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) does battle with the Missouri Tigers (10-2) in Atlanta, Ga to decide the 2014 SEC Championship.

This is Alabama’s first appearance in the SEC Championship since the 2012 season when they defeated the Georgia Bulldogs before winning the BCS Championship against Notre Dame. Missouri appeared in their first-ever SEC Championship last season in a blowout loss to Auburn.

Missouri has had an up and down season, losing to 4-8 Indiana earlier in the season as well as being shutout by Georgia. But they beat every other SEC East team they played, and even got wins over the Arkansas and Texas A&M late in the season.

Missouri seems to catching their stride at the end of the season led by quarterback Maty Mauk. Alabama is one win away from a College Football Playoff berth.

Control the Line of Scrimmage

Missouri may boast the best pair of defensive ends in the country in Markus Golden and Shane Ray, who have combined for 36.5 tackles for loss with 22.0 sacks. Missouri’s defense as a whole is very solid but the defensive line is the strength.

Alabama will attempt to combat those defensive ends with a steady dose of runs at the middle of the defense. That will require center Ryan Kelly and guards Arie Kouandjio and Leon Brown to have an impressive day.

Derrick Henry will likely get a lot of carries but Jalston Fowler should get a few more than we are used to to try and take advantage of his power and try to weaken that defensive line.

Missouri’s offensive line is just as stout as their defensive line, and running backs Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy have combined for 1,696 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. If Alabama can hem up the Missouri running game it will give the Tide defense a chance to attack Mauk. Reggie Ragland and Trey DePriest in the middle of that Alabama defense will be the players to watch in the running game.

Protect Blake Sims

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  • Equally as important as establishing the run it to ensure Blake Sims has time to make plays. He’s only been sacked 11 times all year and his scrambling ability gives him a chance when the pocket collapses. But to loosen up that Missouri defense he will need to make plays downfield.

    Cameron Robinson is coming off of another injury – this time his shoulder – so the Tide’s best offensive lineman is still banged up, and will be facing some of the best defensive ends in the country.

    Defensive Backs Must Rebound

    Cyrus Jones had a horrible game against Western Carolina and Eddie Jackson had an even worse game against Auburn. The past two weeks have not been kind to the starting cornerbacks for Alabama.

    The good news is that Bradley Sylve, who has not seen much playing time since early in the season, played the best game of his career. Sammy Coates toasted Jackson in the first half but only managed one catch in the second half. Sylve covered him for the majority of the second half and did extremely well, and the only “bad” play he had was the deep pass Quan Bray “caught” over Sylve in the second half.

    Jones, Sylve, and Jackson will get plenty of work against Mizzou as Mauk will likely look to take advantage of the corners, especially on early downs, so they will need to keep their heads up and get focused for this one. A pass rush could be their best friends too and as Mauk has been sacked 20 times. Xzavier Dickson (8.5 sacks) is probably licking his chops at the thought of getting after the Tigers quarterback.

    Get the Ball to Coop

    Amari Cooper will get loads of attention from the solid Missouri secondary so expect Lane Kiffin to try and get the ball in Coop’s hands early and often. Quick passes and screens could help loosen up the Missouri defense to allow the Alabama running game to get a little bit more room.

    ArDarius Stewart will likely be on the field again this week and his speed could help stretch the field and give Cooper more opportunities as well. With these two teams both boasting very physical offenses and defenses this could be a slobber-knocker of a game like the 2012 SEC Championship between Georgia and Alabama.

    The SEC Championship is at 3:30 on CBS. Hang out with us on Twitter or in our free forums.