Florida's Secondary v Alabama's Wide Receivers
Florida's secondary struggled once this year and that was against an Arkansas team that thrives on passing the ball. Julio Jones will be blanketed by potential All-American candidate and Jim Thorpe finalist (Nations best defensive back), Joe Haden. Jones hasn't lived up to his freshman campaign, but that may have something to do with 'Bama's QB situation and the offense running the ball like crazy. Look for the Tide's Marquis Maze to see a ton of balls thrown his way.
Florida's Linebackers v Alabama's Running Game
Teams have stuck 8 and 9 in the box on the Doak Walker finalist and Maxwell finalist (Nation's best running back and all-around player) and Mark Ingram still finds holes to burst through. Florida's linebacking core is arguably the best in the nation, returning all 3 starters from a year ago, including Bednarik finalist (Nation's best defensive player), Brandon Spikes, who is the heart and soul of this UF defense. The one-two combination of Ingram and freshman power-load, Trent Richardson, is a lot to handle, even for the great Florida defense. The Gators have struggled a few times against the power running game this season, especially to Tennessee and Arkansas. Ingram was bottled up against Auburn recently and sustained a minor injury.
Florida's Defensive Line v Alabama's Offensive Line
I would've given the edge to Florida, but Carlos Dunlop got himself suspended for the title game due to suspicion of drunk driving. Justin Trattou is a load and a very aggressive player, but he has big shoes to fill replacing Dunlop. 'Bama's offensive line isn't the biggest bunch, but they're extremely athletic and do an amazing job working their way to the second level allowing for massive lanes. Their pass protection could be better, but that may be because Alabama quarterback, Greg McElroy, holds on to the ball much longer than he should. Florida's front 4 is very active with their stunts and carry a ton of depth. This match-up will determine who wins or loses this ball game.
Alabama's Secondary v Florida's Receivers
Other than Aaron Hernandez, Florida's receivers haven't exactly been dependable at times, dropping the ball on multiple occasions. Alabama's secondary, led by corner back, Javier Arenas, is a very aggressive group. Each defensive back covers well and will flat knock a player out. Riley Cooper, the Gator's top pass catcher, will need to play huge if Florida is to succeed. Don't count on the deep ball being effective, so sit Deonte Thompson if he's on your fantasy team. Look for David Nelson to have another big SEC Championship Game day.
Alabama's Linebackers v Florida's Running Backs
Alabama has some great linebackers on this squad, including Rolando McClain who'll cover, blitz, shadow, and do whatever you ask him to. The Tide's 4 linebackers can all get to the ball carrier and don't miss tackles. With that said, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps make a living on making tacklers miss and, if they do miss, it's touchdown. Tebow's lumped into this group too. His running abilities this season have evolved due to his lack of a pass catcher at wide out. Look for the stretch play to work against an over-aggressive 'Bama 'backer group.
Alabama's Defensive Line v Florida's Offensive Line
Alabama's front 3 is nasty, led by Bednarik finalist, nose tackle, Terrance Cody. All 3 guys are big space eaters, including their defensive ends, and are extremely disciplined. The problem is Florida's offensive line has seen them before and handled them very well in last years contest. Florida's depth is an issue with a few guys out and a couple of others nicked up. Expect the Pouncey twins to double "Mount" Cody. Watch for Gator left tackle, Marcus Gilbert, to receive help, whether that is a running back or tight end, with whichever defensive player lines up against him. It's basically a, "pick your poison" for the freshman tackle.
McElroy has struggled getting the ball to his receivers down field this season. He's had time, but his decision-making is too slow. You can see the frustration on Julio Jones' face a few times during the games this year. Tebow is a game-changer and will put a team on his back and will them to victory. We've all heard it a million times, but it's true. Check out both QB's stats. Very comparable.
Arenas is in the top 10 in both kick returning and punt returning yards. The kid's a touchdown waiting to happen, if teams kick to him. Alabama's Leigh Tiffin is the best kicker in the NCAA. Brandon James isn't the same young man from his freshman and sophomore years. He's still dangerous, but I think teams have got him figured out. Caleb Sturgis has struggled.
Urban Meyer is money in these big games. He knows how to get his teams well prepared, especially when the odds are against him (even though they're favored by 6). Nick Saban is also a great big-game coach and he'll want redemption for last year.
Florida: 23, Alabama: 24