Alabama fights off Florida in high-scoring SEC Championship
Alabama is back on to of the SEC. After not appearing in the conference title game last season, the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide defeated No. 7 Florida 52-46 behind a Heisman-level performance form quarterback Mac Jones. Jones threw for 418 yards and five touchdowns as Alabama set the SEC record for most points scored in the conference championship game.
After a closely contested first quarter, Alabama running back Najee Harris took over the game. Harris scored three of his four touchdowns on the day in the second quarter, helping Bama build a 35-17 halftime lead.
Florida came out swinging in the second half, scoring in just four plays to open the third quarter. The Gators would hold the Tide for the next two possessions, and ultimately scored on a Nay'Quan Wright three yard run to cut the lead to 35-31. Alabama would answer with another Harris touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and a Florida fumble would allow the Crimson Tide to add a field goal--making it a 45-31 game.
Trailing 52-38 with a little over two minutes left, Florida quarterback Kyle Trask hit start tight end Kyle Pitts for a 22 yard touchdown to keep the Gators in the game. Trask would run the ball in on the point conversion to make it a six point game. He finished the game with 408 passing yards and three touchdown passes.
The Gator defense, which had been bullied all day, forced an Alabama punt, giving Florida the ball back with 16 seconds left in the game. Florida needed to get the ball downfield in a hurry, but Trask was sacked on the first play of the drive by Christian Harris; causing time to run out.
DeVonta Smith added 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 15 catches for Alabama, while Najee Harris finished with 245 total yards and five touchdowns (2 rushing, 3 receiving).
Alabama will play No. 4 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff. Florida plays No. 6 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.