The number one team in the country, Alabama, came away with another SEC title, beating Missouri 42-13 to make sure that no last minute surprises happen, with the strongest conference sending its champion into the playoff instead of an undeserving member.
Missouri were probably weaker than they were last season, but the schedule and the mishaps of Georgia allowed them to get into the conference championship for a second straight season. If last year’s game was competitive before losing to Auburn, the Tigers looked like they don’t belong right from the start. When they scored their first touchdown Alabama had already built a 21-10 lead. With Maty Mauk at quarterback and a rushing game producing just 41 yards it’s hard to beat anyone, let alone the Crimson Tide.
Blake Sims completed 23-of-27 passes for 262 yards and a couple of touchdowns. A player that Nick Saban admitted that he had doubts about and the coaches thought about moving him to a different position had a very good season, relying on a massive offensive line and two standout receivers in DeAndrew White and Amari Cooper. Missouri actually did a good job of keeping Cooper away from big plays (12 receptions for 83 yards) but Alabama’s running game with Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon made up for that with four touchdowns.
If this is the best the SEC East has to offer, than it’s a good thing Missouri didn’t accidentally win this game. A win like that might have created the absurd situation of the SEC not having a team in the playoff. Sure, the love it gets from polls and ESPN might be a bit too much and it’s not that much better than the rest of the nation, but it’s still hard to argue about the quality in at least one of its divisions and the number of strong team present.
The playoff should be a six or eight team affair: Five conference champions, one G5 team (Boise State this year and maybe almost every season) and two more at-large. It won’t stop the argument, but no one who actually went the distance will be left out. In any case, Alabama more than deserve to make it into the final four, even it means leaving other one-loss teams on the outside looking in. It’s easy to forget, but Alabama lost to Ole Miss and had a few close calls along the way as well.