The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 SEC, No. 1 CFP) can wrap up both the SEC title and the top spot in the College Football Playoff with a victory over the No. 14 Missouri Tigers (10-2, 7-1 SEC) Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.
The Tide surged past Florida State for the top ranking in the Associated Press poll after crushing Auburn 55-44 last weekend, and tightened their grip on the CFP’s No. 1 spot as well. But a second loss, coupled with Oregon’s 51-13 blasting of Arizona, could result in Alabama dropping out of the CFP altogether.
Along with the Ducks, TCU and Florida State are also looking to improve their standing in the CFP rankings, while Ohio State and Baylor need them, or the Tide, to slip up in Saturday’s climax to the regular season.
Heading into the matchup, Alabama is arguably playing better than any other team and boasts maybe the most balanced squad in the country. It’s won seven straight games, including a 59-0 shutout over Texas A&M, a down-to-the-wire 20-13 overtime victory over LSU, and the 25-20 toppling over Mississippi State’s talented defense.
The Tide are devastating opponents with 36.7 points per game behind SEC-leading receiver Amari Cooper, who’s totaled 1,573 yards and 14 touchdowns off 103 receptions. There are also the 24 touchdown passes from fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Sims, and the overpowering backfield tandem of running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, who’s scored eight touchdowns apiece.
Alabama could be even better on defense. The Tide’s fifth in the country allowing only 16.9 points per game, and have the best rushing defense in the SEC, letting up 92.2 yards per contest.
It’s a tall order for the Tigers to thwart Alabama’s surge atop the country, but they have a devastating defense of their own. Defensive lineman Shane Ray and Markus Golden lead the SEC’s best pass rush with 22 of the team’s 40 sacks.
Missouri’s holding opponents to 19.7 points per game, fifth-best in the SEC, and is coming off an impressive 21-14 victory over Arkansas, the team that completely shutout ranked LSU and Ole Miss in the two games prior.
On offense, the Tigers send out sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk and his 22 touchdown passes on the year. Nine of those touchdowns went to senior receiver Bud Sasser, who’s third in conference with 65 receptions for 904 yards.
Start Time: 4 P.M. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Live Online Stream: A live stream is available at CBS Sports here
Point Spread: Alabama -14.5
Over/Under: 49 points
Prediction: Alabama over Missouri, 34-20