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Best Value Bets for the Alabama vs Florida SEC Championship Game

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide(11-0) @ #15 Florida Gators(8-3)

  • Where: Georgia Dome. Atlanta, GA (Neutral Site)
  • When: December 3, 2016 4:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Florida (+24) Alabama (-24)
  • Moneyline: Florida (+1375) Alabama (-2400)
  • Over / Under: Over 40.5 (-110) Under 40.5 (-110)

Another week, another nationally-ranked “pansy” for Alabama to knock off.

Except this week, it’s in the conference championship. And the Crimson Tide is 1 win away from a top seed in the College Football Playoff.

‘Bama has handily won every highly-anticipated game on their 2016-17 schedule, with very different methods than most contenders. It begins with an indomitable defense that has held Louisiana State University to a shut-out, Tennessee to 10 points, and USC and Kentucky to 6 each. Incredibly, Alabama has not given up a touchdown since a week before Halloween.

The Tide offense hasn’t had nearly as much to write home about, but it helps when the task is simple. They don’t need to control the game – DC Jeremy Pruitt’s 5-star recruits will do that. A punt is a positive play for Alabama, because it gives their opponent the near-impossible task of mounting a long drive. Manufacturing a small early lead and then running the ball is fine, as in last week’s 30-12 strong-arming of a tough Auburn team in the Iron Bowl. Or, just avoiding turnovers and waiting for the defense to take over, as in the previous week’s 31-3 Homecoming win over highly-motivated Chattanooga.

SEC East champ Florida faces a psychological hurdle almost as insurmountable as the physical task of beating the #1-ranked team in the FBS. Pundits have been writing off Saturday’s game at the Georgia Dome as insignificant in the national-title picture; even if Alabama loses, they will still make the Playoff and the Gators will still be out. Among common opponents, Tennessee and Arkansas convincingly beat UF earlier this season while the Tide breezed through both.

Bovada Sportsbook has Florida a whopping underdog with a money line of +1375, and a modest over/under at 40.5.

Alabama – Any Cracks in the Crimson Wall?

Alabama Florida Betting LinesMost legendary defenses have at least 1 or 2 games where their superiority is challenged. Even the ’85 Chicago Bears gave up 30+ points in a loss to Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins. But unlike the holes in Buddy Ryan’s barbaric blitzes, the ’16-17 Tide have a modern defense capable of containing opponents as well as bludgeoning them.

The closest thing to a total defensive lapse came in September, as Ole Miss connected on a 63 yard TD pass from Chad Kelly to Evan Engram in the 2nd quarter to help the Rebels storm out to a 24-3 lead. Kelly passed for 421 yards and 3 touchdowns and Alabama gave up 101 yards on the ground, helping leave them vulnerable to long down-field strikes.

Florida – Grasping at Straws?

florida gators vs alabama crimson tide football betsThe Gator fan base is counting on the fact that LSU, a comparable defense, held the Tide to only 10 points in an early-November contest. They are reasoning that if Alabama only manages a measly 10 points again, talented UF quarterback Austin Appleby will lead his offense to at least 11.

Fans near The Swamp are worried about ‘Bama’s running game, though. Tide RB Damien Harris has 900+ yards and a 7+ ypc average on the season, while frosh QB Jalen Hurts has a crack at breaking the 1000-yard barrier and has scored 12 touchdowns.

UF will try to manufacture some rushing yards of its own with sophomore sensation Jordan Scarlett, considered 1 of the top 5 running backs in the SEC.

Barn-Burner or Beauty Pageant?

If Florida falls behind early, head coach Jim McElwain will have a choice to make. Does he try to keep the score close and out-patience the Tide coaches, hoping for a sudden shock and upset win in the 4th quarter? Or, does he open his playbook and try to give his offense some type of pulse?

The Gators could go to the Sugar Bowl even with a loss, but not a humiliation. A prop bet that Florida will score at least 1 or 2 mop-up touchdowns in the 2nd half could have value, or an in-play on the O/U as big plays could go both ways once the Tide are substituting.

Expect Points and Value in the Over

9 out of the last 10 games involving UF or Alabama have gone under, leading to the paltry 40.5 O/U line for Saturday evening. But this time, there’s a play to be made on the over.

There are only a few ways this can really go – Alabama could pound the Gators with all 3 units in a 44-0 demolition, making the over. A close game will likely result in 2nd-half fireworks, also nudging the tally higher than bookies are expecting.

The Tide could get out to a lead and coast to a ho-hum 21-3 or 28-0 final score. But that’s unlikely given the New Year’s audition scenario that Florida finds itself in. The Sugar Bowl committee will not be impressed by a meek, cautious offense and the Gators know that. Appleby might fail and flail and throw a pick-6, but he won’t go gently into that good night. That likely means additional points for both sides.

Wager the over on Bovada.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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