For the third consecutive season, and the fourth time in the past five seasons, Alabama is the champion of the SEC.
The Crimson Tide capped off an undefeated campaign with a 54-16 win against Florida, which assured Alabama the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff.
And the Tide won the game with their suffocating defense.
Florida started the game inspired. On the Gators’ first possession, they marched 64 yards in 10 plays and took a surprising 7-0 lead. Quarterback Austin Appleby completed 6 of his 7 passes for 57 yards.
But things went south for Florida after that. On the Gators’ next passion Appleby threw an interception and a pick-six on the possession after that. The next possession, Alabama blocked the Gators’ punt and returned it for a touchdown. Less than 9 minutes after the Gators took their stunning touchdown lead, they found themselves down 16-9.
Alabama scored 33 first-half points, which was an SEC title game record.
The second half was more of the same. The Alabama defense limited Florida to just 70 yards of second-half offense and kept the Gators out of the end zone. Alabama’s offense came alive in the second half, accounting for 200 yards and 21 points.
The Tide’s 54 points marked the second-most in an SEC title game and the 38-point margin was the second-largest in the game’s 24-year history. Florida had not allowed more than 50 points to an opponent since the 1995 national championship game against Nebraska.
Now all Alabama has to do is sit back and wait. There was never any question that the defending national champions, which started the season No. 1 and have never moved from that spot, wouldn’t be in the playoff. Now it’s just a matter of whom the Tide will play. Washington, which defeated Colorado to win the Pac-12 title, was in the No. 4 spot last week, but there is some speculation the Huskies, and Clemson, should the Tigers win the ACC title, would move up and Ohio State would drop down to No. 4 setting up a rematch of the 2015 Sugar Bowl.