For most of the season, Alabama sat at the top of the national rankings and was a shoe-in for the BCS championship game. Texas A&M and Heisman hopeful Johnny Manziel came along and changed everything. The Tide fell down to fourth in the standings and no longer controlled their own destiny to Miami. It was unforeseen and it was unconventional for Nick Saban’s team to not be at the top.
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SEC: Tide runs to national title game
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A loss to Texas A&M a couple of weeks ago sent the Tide back to No. 2 with a meeting against third-ranked Georgia in the SEC title game. Alabama figured out a way to pull off the victory and found a way into the BCS National Championship game.
“Well, I really couldn’t be prouder of a team. Not only for the way they played in this game but I also couldn’t be prouder of what this team has accomplished this season,” Saban said. “This is a great win for the Alabama and everyone that supports us.”
The win didn’t come without struggles as the Georgia pass rush was in the Alabama backfield and in the face of quarterback A.J. McCarron for the entire game. It was the run game, however, that led the way for the Tide and sealed Georgia’s fate. Alabama running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon ran for a combined 350 yards and a record for most total rushing yards in an SEC championship game.
Lacy ran for 181 yards, tying him for third most in SEC title game history while Yeldon added 169 yards. Lacy had nothing but appreciation for what his boys up front did for him.
“The offensive line played great, creating holes and opening spaces for T.J. and I all game long,” Lacy said. “It wasn’t our best game but we weathered the storm as coach always says.”
The national title game isn’t until January and the Tide need to figure out what is the best attack against a potent Notre Dame defense. Alabama is playing in the final game of the year for the third time in four years and will be looking for consecutive national titles and third under head coach Nick Saban.
No. 2 Alabama (12-1, 8-1 SEC)
• Alabama did it again. The Tide have almost 40 days to prepare for the nation’s top team.
QB A.J. McCarron is going to need to come up huge as the Notre Dame rush defense is one of the best in the country.
Next Game: National championship game vs. Notre Dame on Jan. 7th
Arkansas (4-8, 2-6 SEC)
Auburn (3-9, 0-8 SEC)
No. 4 Florida (11-1, 7-1 SEC)
• Florida is the second team from the SEC—other than Alabama—to be named to a BCS bowl game. Only two teams per conference are allowed in BCS bowls to prevent powerhouse conferences such as the SEC to dominate the bowl-game selections.
Next Game: vs. Louisville on Jan. 2 in Sugar Bowl
No. 6 Georgia (11-2, 7-2 SEC)
• With the loss in the SEC title game, the Bulldogs, despite being a single play away from the national title game, will find themselves outside of the BCS bowl game picture.
Next Game: vs. Nebraska on Jan. 1, 2014 in Capital One Bowl
Kentucky (2-10, 0-8 SEC)
No. 9 Louisiana State (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
• Like Georgia, LSU finds itself outside of the BCS bowl picture due to the two-team-per-conference rule. It was still a good season for the Tigers considering their best player, Tyrann Mathieu, was kicked off the team before the season even began.
Next Game: vs. Clemson on Dec. 31 in Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC)
• A season of highs and lows was the storyline for the Bulldogs this season. They will try to end on a high note and prove that they are just as good as they showed in the beginning of the season when they started 7-0. Dan Mullen will have had plenty of time to prepare his team for its December bowl game.
Next Game: vs. Northwestern on Jan. 1, 2014 in Gator Bowl
Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC)
Mississippi (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
• Hugh Freeze turned this team around quickly and the next step is winning a bowl game. A bowl win will be a huge momentum boost going into next season where the Rebels will continue to try and improve.
Next Game: vs. Pittsburgh on Jan. 5, 2014 in Compass Bowl
No. 11 South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
• Leave it to Steve Spurrier to overcome as much adversity as the Gamecocks did and still provide Gamecock fans with a 10-win season. A season ravaged by injuries to Marcus Lattimore and Connor Shaw was not a disappointment. They won’t be in a BCS bowl game, but the Gamecocks should still be pleased with their season, considering the obstacles.
Next Game: vs. Michigan on Jan. 1 in Outback Bowl
Tennessee (5-7, 1-7 SEC)
No. 10 Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
• A very good season for the Aggies can only get better. They will be playing in a decent bowl game, however not in a BCS bowl. Let’s not forget that they will be sending freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel to New York with hopes of him returning with the Heisman Trophy.
Next Game: vs. Oklahoma on Jan. 4, 2013 in Cotton Bowl.
Vanderbilt (8-4, 5-3 SEC)
• Vandy looks to win its ninth game of the season and continue proving they are legitimate contenders in the crowded SEC for years to come. Another step in the right direction for head coach James Franklin will be winning a bowl game, no matter where they end up.
Next Game: vs. NC State on Dec. 31 in Music City Bowl
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