Alabama at Florida

No. 1 Alabama romps past Florida 54-16 in SEC title game

Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) This was merely an annoyance for Alabama, a chance to add another trophy to its overflowing cases. The Crimson Tide did just enough things wrong to give Nick Saban something to complain about over the next month, but in the end it was another dominating victory for the nations top-ranked team.

Florida coach Jim McElwain was certainly impressed after his No. 15 Gators took a 54-16 whipping in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday. He called it Sabans best team yet in a dynasty that shows no signs of stumbling.

I dont see a lot of weaknesses, marveled McElwain, Sabans offensive coordinator from 2008-11. Theyve really accumulated a lot of speed at some spots where they were always big.

Alabama (13-0, No. 1 CFP) unleashed all its weapons against the overmatched Gators, scoring off an interception and a blocked punt in the first half, snuffing out their last gasp with a goal-line stand, and wearing down Florida at the end with a dominant running game.

The Tide now heads to the College Football Playoff for the third year in a row, most likely returning to Atlanta for a semifinal game on Dec. 31. Alabama will be seeking its second straight national title and its fifth crown in the last nine years. Saban already has five national titles , counting his first at LSU, and is one shy of Bear Bryants record for the most by any coach.

Challenging his players, Saban said they have a chance to do something to create a legacy for this team. Thats something they should think about, how important that is, what they are willing to do to do it. Because all the teams you play from here on out are really, really good.

The Crimson Tide bolted to a 16-9 lead in the first quarter, despite being held to minus-7 yards and no first downs. Minkah Fitzpatrick returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown, and Josh Jacobs went 27 yards for a score with a blocked punt. A field goal was set up by another pick - one of three thrown by Florida quarterback Austin Appleby in the first half.

The Tide led 33-16 at halftime and iced the victory with scoring drives of 98 and 91 yards, sparked by a goal-line stand that finished off the last gasp by the Gators (8-4, No. 15 CFP). It was most points surrendered by Florida since a 62-24 loss to Nebraska in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

A 24-point underdog , the Gators marched the length of the field on their opening possession, the first touchdown given up by the Tide in more than 17 quarters. They had another long TD drive near the end of the first half to give themselves a glimmer of hope.

It wasnt perfect, said Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who was named the games MVP. We had to persevere, overcome some hard times.

The last of those hard times came when Florida drove to the Crimson Tide 1 in the third quarter. Jordan Scarlett attempted to leap over the line on third-and-goal, but he never got off the ground. Rashaan Evans, who took over after Shaun Dion Hamilton went out with a likely season-ending knee injury, blew by his blocker and slammed the running back for a 1-yard loss.

Appleby then threw incomplete in the back of the end zone on fourth down, giving the Tide all the momentum.

Alabama finished with 174 yards rushing in the second half. The bulk of the carries went to bruising sophomore Bo Scarbrough, who had two short touchdown runs and finished with 91 yards on 11 carries.

We just wanted to do what we do best, and thats run the ball, Scarbrough said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Alabama: Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts wasnt all that sharp, completing 11 of 20 passes for 138 yards, and the Tide will want to clean up some busted plays that led to big losses. But thats merely nitpicking. This team is the clear favorite heading into the playoff.

Florida: The Gators must address their offensive woes after another shaky performance. Developing a quarterback is McElwains top priority. Thats something weve got to do, sooner than later, he said.

BLOCK PARTY

During a wild sequence in the first quarter, each team scored off blocked kicks on back-to-back plays.

Jacobs TD came after Derrick Gore blocked a punt, giving Alabama a 16-7 lead. But when Adam Griffiths extra-point attempt was swatted down by Jabari Zuniga, David Reese scooped up the ball and went the length of the field to give the Gators a 2-point conversion.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Alabama will remain No. 1 in The Associated Press poll, as well as the College Football Playoff rankings. Florida can expect to drop at least four or five spots.

UP NEXT

Alabama: Projected to meet the No. 4-ranked CFP team in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Florida: Two straight blowout losses probably cost the Gators a shot at the Sugar Bowl. More likely, they will settle for either the Dec. 31 Citrus Bowl or the Jan. 2 Outback Bowl.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .

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For more AP college football coverage: www.collegefootball.ap.org

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

 
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Scoreboard
Alabama #1  (13-0) «161771454
Florida #15  (8-4)970016
Players of the Game
Crimson Tide

B. Scarbrough
Rush 11
Yds 91
Avg 8.3
TD 2
Gators

A. Appleby
Att 39
Comp 26
Yds 261
TD 2
Scoring Summary
FLAAntonio Callaway 5 yd pass from Austin Appleby (Eddy Pineiro kick)
BAMAAdam Griffith 31 yd FG
BAMAMinkah Fitzpatrick 44 yd interception return (Adam Griffith kick)
BAMAJoshua Jacobs 27 yd punt return (missed kick)
FLADavid Reese returned XP
BAMAGehrig Dieter 6 yd pass from Jalen Hurts (Adam Griffith kick)
BAMAAdam Griffith 25 yd FG
BAMAJoshua Jacobs 6 yd run (Adam Griffith kick)
FLADeAndre Goolsby 25 yd pass from Austin Appleby (Eddy Pineiro kick)
BAMABo Scarbrough 2 yd run (Adam Griffith kick)
BAMABo Scarbrough 1 yd run (Adam Griffith kick)
BAMADerrick Gore 10 yd run (Andy Pappanastos kick)
 
Team Stats
 BAMAFLA
First Downs1816
Third Down Efficiency5-107-16
Fourth Down Efficiency0-00-2
Plays-Net Yards58-37269-261
Rushes-Yds38-23430-0
Passing Yds138261
Kick Return Yds0145
Punt Return Yds1170
Passes11-20-026-39-3
Punts2-815-218
Fumbles-Lost1-01-0
Penalties-Yds2-147-53
Time of Poss.24:5235:8
 
Individual Stats
RUSHING
BAMA: Bo Scarbrough 11-91, Damien Harris 8-86, Joshua Jacobs 6-35, Derrick Gore 4-21, Jalen Hurts 8-1, ArDarius Stewart 1-0
FLA: Jordan Scarlett 11-17, Mark Thompson 5-16, Lamical Perine 3-8, Jordan Cronkrite 1-2, Brandon Powell 1-1, Josh Hammond 1-1, Antonio Callaway 2--2, Johnny Townsend 1--11, Austin Appleby 5--32
PASSING
BAMA: Jalen Hurts 11-20-138-0
FLA: Austin Appleby 26-39-261-3
RECEIVING
BAMA: Calvin Ridley 4-43, ArDarius Stewart 3-42, O.J. Howard 2-41, Joshua Jacobs 1-6, Gehrig Dieter 1-6
FLA: Brandon Powell 9-59, DeAndre Goolsby 7-91, Antonio Callaway 4-63, C'yontai Lewis 2-10, Lamical Perine 1-32, Josh Hammond 1-4, Jordan Cronkrite 1-2, Mark Thompson 1-0
 
Standings
TeamStandingsConferenceOverall
Alabama1st SEC West8-014-1
Florida1st SEC East6-29-4

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