Florida vs. Alabama: Pick, prediction, spread, odds, line, time, live stream for SEC Championship Game

By Adam Silverstein
December 19, 2020
Florida vs. Alabama: Pick, prediction, spread, odds, line, time, live stream for SEC Championship Game
Football

Image Credit: Michael Nash

The Florida Gators have returned to Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game. For the first time since 2016, Florida will be competing for an SEC title Saturday in the culmination of a regular season that has been just like most others for the Gators, filled with ups and downs, jubilation and disappointment.

No. 7 Florida faces the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium reigniting the most common SEC title game matchup in the event’s history. The Gators and Tide will meet for the 10th time with the SEC championship on the line, and though the series has been a bit one-sided recently both in terms of results and the scoreboards, it’s always special when the orange and blue meets the crimson and white.

There is so much on the line Saturday that it’s hard to quantify. While some believe Alabama has already locked up a College Football Playoff bid, win or lose, Florida enters with as outside a shot as any program’s had in the event’s seven-year history. UF faced a “win-and-you’re-in” scenario before the LSU loss but now needs help to get into the four-team field.

A similar story can be told as it pertains to the Heisman Trophy with Gators redshirt senior quarterback Kyle Trask looking like the man to beat over the second half of the season only for 30 minutes of uneven play to see him fall down the oddsboard in favor of two competitors on Saturday — Tide QB Mac Jones and wide receiver DeVonta Smith. This despite Trask having clearly better numbers and much more consistent production than Jones.

Read in greater depth about Florida’s playoff path, Trask’s Heisman chances and much more ahead of the game.

No matter what happens Saturday, the Gators and head coach Dan Mullen must be proud of their accomplishments. They conquered the most difficult season in SEC history and came out atop their division. But the cherry on top sure would be sweet.

What will go down Saturday evening as Florida and Alabama meet once again in the SEC Championship Game? Let’s find out.

Tale of the tape

No. 7 Florida GatorsNo. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Head coachDan MullenNick Saban
Record8-210-0
ConferenceSECSEC

Injuries and absences

Probable (1): RB Nay’Quan Wright (undisclosed)
Questionable (4): TE Kyle Pitts (undisclosed), LB Jeremiah Moon (foot), DB Shawn Davis (undisclosed), DB Rashad Torrence II (shoulder)
Doubtful (1): LB David Reese (shoulder)
Out for season (1): DB Ethan Pouncey (hip)
Notable inactives (?): To be announced before kickoff

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Dec. 12 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium — Atlanta, Georgia [16,500]

TV: CBS (Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, Jamie Erdahl)
Live stream: CBSSports.com | SiriusXM: 84| Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Game notes

» Florida is 14-26 all-time against Alabama with losses in six straight meetings since 2009, three in SEC Championship Games.
» The Gators are 4-5 against the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game with losses in three straight meetings. They are the most frequent matchup in the game’s history. Florida and Alabama are each playing their 13th SEC title game. They are undefeated (3-0) in the game when not playing one another.
» UF is playing in the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2016, but it did not win the SEC East outright, instead winning a tiebreaker over Georgia.
» Under Mullen, Florida is 21-2 when scoring first, 25-2 when leading after the third quarter, 19-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer, 6-3 in games decided by fewer than 10 points and 21-0 when outrushing its opponent.
» Both losses when scoring first and leading after the third quarter came this season. UF is now 7-7 when being outrushed by an opponent.
» Florida is 5-4 against ranked opponents (4-3 against top 10 teams) and 23-3 against unranked teams under Mullen.
» Mullen began his career 29-6 through 35 games, the best start in program history with Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier both going 27-7 through 34.
» The Gators’ 31 sacks this season are the most in the SEC, and its 66 tackles for loss are second-most in the league.
» Florida has scored 412 points through 10 games against SEC opponents and is outscoring teams by 14.9 points per game.
» The Gators have scored 24+ points in 25 of their last 27 games and had scored 34+ points in 10 straight games, the longest stretch in program history. Eight of those came against SEC teams, also a record.
» Florida has scored 155 offensive touchdowns in 36 games under Mullen. It scored 93 in 38 games from 2015-17. UF has also scored 50+ points five times under Mullen compared to five times over 101 games from 2010-17.
» UF has scored in 408 consecutive games, an NCAA record.
» Florida lost to an opponent that finished the season with a losing record for the first time since 2004. UF and Alabama were the only two FBS teams without such a distinction over the last 12 seasons.

» Redshirt senior quarterback Kyle Trask’s 40 touchdown passes leads all other QBs nationally by 10. It’s the fifth-highest total through 10 games in FBS history, though all of Trask’s have come against SEC competition. Those 40 TDs are the most for a single-season in program history, and Trask can pass Danny Wuerffel’s 42 total TDs (including bowl stats) in 1996 through the postseason.
» Trask is the first player in program history to throw 4+ touchdowns in six straight games. He previously set an SEC record for most TDs through the first six games of a season and tied an FBS record for most through six games in the last 20 seasons (28). Trask is also the first Gators signal caller to throw for 6+ touchdowns twice in a single season and the third to do it in his career (Wuerffel, Trey Dean).
» Junior tight end Kyle Pitts’ 11 touchdowns are most for his position in program history and most for any Gators pass catcher since Jabar Gaffney had 13 in the full 2001 season. Pitts has the fourth-most TD catches among FBS players despite only playing seven games. 92% of Pitts’ receptions have resulted in a TD or first down, according to Pro Football Focus.
» Senior wide receiver Kadarius Toney became just the 11th SEC player since 1996 to record a passing, rushing, receiving and punt return touchdown in his career.
» Florida is the only team in the nation with three players who have caught 8+ touchdowns (Pitts, Grimes, Toney). That has only happened one other time in program history (1996) and rarely happens in any given season. All three also have 30+ receptions and 400+ yards receiving.

Prediction and analysis

Spread: Florida +17 | O/U: 76

Florida enters a game as an underdog for just the second time this season, and the line is juiced after its horrendous showing against LSU and Alabama’s complete dominance this season. But there’s no denying the direction these teams are headed. The Crimson Tide are on a 7-0 ATS streak, covering six straight spreads of 21 points or more. The Gators are on a 0-3-1 ATS streak with a 1-4-1 mark with spreads of 17 points or higher in their favor. That basically tells you all you need to know entering this game.

There is no doubting the success Florida’s had this season, but any impartial observer sees a flawed team. The Gators defense has struggled with far lesser offenses and is now going up against the best in the nation with a wide receiver in DeVonta Smith that will likely torch their secondary. Florida’s offense had been dominant this season, but it’s gone absolutely silent in the fourth quarter of late, scoring just 5.0 points on average in that period over the last four games. So UF is not scoring when it counts, and from a gambling perspective, it’s not a backdoor cover threat, either.

Alabama has only allowed 7.2 points per game to its last five opponents. Against eight common opponents this season, the Tide outscored those teams 412-155 or by 32.13 points per game. The Gators’ marks by comparison are a 336-222 final score or 14.25 points per game — with two losses against those teams. Add into that Mullen being 0-9 all-time against Saban, the fact that Florida is trending in the wrong direction late in the season after playing seven straight games without a break, and the talent disparity between the programs through recruiting. It’s tough to see how UF keeps up.

None of that is to say the Gators are bad or Mullen is not capable. If these teams were to play 100 times, Florida would certainly win a proportion of those games. But the most likely outcome is Alabama winning and covering despite UF’s explosive offense with the total likely staying under.

2020 records: ATS picks 6-4 | O/U picks 3-7 | Overall: 9-11

Odds and ends

» Florida will wear its classic orange helmets, blue jerseys and blue pants in the SEC Championship Game. The Gators are 4-1 in this game wearing this combination.

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