The Alabama No.1 faced his toughest test of the season and barely escaped on Saturday night, edging Florida No.7 52-46 in the 2020 SEC Championship game to win his ninth conference title and his fifth in the past seven seasons. The game lived up to its hype at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith recovered Florida’s kick attempt with 2:09 left to end a furious charge that made a game out of what once looked like a blowout. The Gators ran for 75 yards in 10 games and hit Paydirt for striking distance on a remarkable 22-yard touchdown from Kyle Trask to Kyle PItts. Florida coach Dan Mullen then decided to do two with Trask in the process of converting. Trask finished with 408 yards, four total TDs and one fumble.
Only after Crimson Tide QB Mac Jones hit Smith for a 15-yard touchdown with 4:59 into the game to push Alabama’s lead to 52-38 and put pressure on the Gators. Jones finished with 418 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
Alabama got things done quickly, running 70 yards in nine games in their first practice of the game. Touchdowns of 31 yards, 73 yards, 70 yards and 78 yards followed in a first half in which punter Charlie Scott never saw the field.
Running back Najee Harris was the star of the show. The senior totaled 245 yards (178 rushing) with five total touchdowns (two rushing), breaking program records by scoring his 54th total touchdown and 44th rushing touchdown. His 27 touchdowns in 2020 are one less than former Alabama running back Derrick Henry in his Heisman Trophy year in 2015.
Smith broke Amari Cooper’s career record of 3,463 receiving yards in the first quarter, and he ended the night with a single-game school record of 15 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
Alabama strewn their own record books and provided cases for the Heisman Trophy for their three stars, but Florida did not appear to be suffering from a hangover after last weekend’s shocking loss to LSU. He came off the bridge in the second half after falling to a 35-17 hole at halftime. The Gators were 45-38 early in the fourth quarter after a 1 yard touchdown from Dameon Pierce. It came after a scorching third quarter that saw Trask hit Trevon Grimes for a 50-yard touchdown on the first practice, plus a 12-play, 80-yard practice that ended in a 3-yard touchdown from Nay’Quan. Wright to get the Gators in striking distance at 35-31. It was only the second quarter of the season that Alabama failed to score.
Gators all-star tight end Kyle Pitts had 129 yards and one touchdown on seven catches, while WR Kadarius Toney had 153 yards and one touchdown.
The victory marked Alabama’s seventh SEC title under coach Nick Saban, who arrived before the 2008 season. He ended an 11-0 season that will undoubtedly result in a trip to the college football playoffs for the sixth time in its seven-year history of the four-team playoff event.
Florida ends their regular season at 8-3 and will find out on Sunday whether they head to their third bowl of the New Years Six in as many years. CBS Sports Bowl Expert Jerry Palm threw the Gators in the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma.
Keep it locked here for take out and SEC Championship game highlights.