Alabama vs. Missouri Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
No. 1 Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. No. 16 Missouri (10-2, 7-1 SEC)
When: Saturday, Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. CT
Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
Weather (Outside): Rain with a high of 63 degrees and a low of 46, S at 7 mph, 90 percent chance of rain.
TV: CBS (Play-by-play: Verne Lundquist, color analyst: Gary Danielson, sideline reporter: Allie LaForce)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart)
Spread: Alabama (-14-14½), according to Danny Sheridan. The Crimson Tide has now been favored in 67 consecutive games, starting with its 2009 BCS National Championship Game victory over Texas.
Last Meeting: No. 1 Alabama pounded Missouri on the ground, rushing for 362 yards and six touchdowns behind Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon in a 42-10 win in Columbia, Missouri in 2012.
Series History: Alabama and Missouri are tied 2-2 coming into Saturday’s SEC Championship Game. Missouri won the first two meetings of the series. Before the 2012 meeting, Alabama hadn’t played Missouri since Sept. 16, 1976 in Columbia, which the Crimson Tide won 38-20.
The Crimson Tide survived the highest-scoring game in Iron Bowl, a 55-44 shootout win over Auburn last Saturday to keep its College Football Playoff hopes in sight.
Alabama overcame a 33-21 deficit in the third quarter, scoring five straight touchdowns –including three in the fourth quarter – after Auburn extended its lead to 12 to win. The Crimson Tide led by as many as 19 points after Derrick Henry’s 25-yard touchdown run with 3:46 left in the fourth quarter. Corey Grant’s 5-yard score with 20 seconds remaining ended Alabama’s run of 28 unanswered points.
Amari Cooper led the way for Alabama with 13 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns, tying his own school records in all three receiving categories. He scored on receptions of 17, 39 and 75.
Blake Sims passed for 312 yards and four touchdowns but also threw three interceptions – all three coming inside Alabama territory. Auburn, led by quarterback Nick Marshall, took advantage of the short fields to take and build up a lead. Marshall set school records with his 456 passing yards and 505 total yards of offense.
The Tigers outgained the Crimson Tide 628-539 and held possession for nearly eight minutes longer. Alabama had come into the game as the SEC’s top-ranked defense.
Even in the event of a loss, Alabama would have still qualified for the SEC Championship Game as the SEC West champion as Mississippi State fell earlier in the day to Ole Miss.
The Tigers also had to rally to win in its last game, a 21-14 victory over Arkansas in the newly-formed Battle Line Rivalry. The win clinched Missouri its second straight SEC East title.
Like the Crimson Tide, Missouri had to overcome a poor first half, which Arkansas controlled, leading 14-6 going into the third quarter. The Tigers scored twice in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 14-14 after a two-point conversion and to take their first lead of the game with under five minutes remaining.
Maty Mauk completed 25-of-42 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The SEC’s third-leading wideout, Bud Sasser, logged his third 100-yard game of the season with 127 on nine receptions.
Missouri’s running back tandem of Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy combined for 149 yards rushing and one touchdown on 31 carries. Murphy scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard touchdown run with 4:38 left in the game.
Arkansas’ duo of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins rushed for 72 yards and 59 yards, respectively. Williams caught a 23-yard pass from Brandon Allen to give the Razorbacks a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Razorbacks had a chance to tie it on the ensuing drive after Missouri took the lead but fumbled on the Tigers’ 35. Had Missouri lost, Georgia would have won the East due to the head-to-head tiebreaker. (Georgia routed the Tigers, 34-0, at home on Oct. 11.)
Keep an eye on:
Cam Robinson, left tackle: The true freshman left tackle has been a consistent bright spot along the Crimson Tide offensive line this season, even during games where he’s battled through injuries. Against arguably the top two pass rushers Alabama has seen this year, Robinson will need to have one of his biggest performances yet to help Blake Sims have a productive game.
Landon Collins, safety: After allowing 456 passing yards in last Saturday’s shootout with Auburn, Alabama’s secondary will obviously look to respond with a better performance this weekend. And to accomplish that you need not look any further than Alabama’s best player in that back four. Collins leads the team in interceptions with three, two of which came at pivotal moments against Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Maty Mauk, quarterback: Granted, it’s his first full year of starting, but when the sophomore quarterback has struggled this season, it hasn’t been pretty. Still, he’s had his moments over his relatively short career, so Alabama should be preparing for that Maty Mauk to show up. If Mizzou wants to win, Mauk will need to be on his game.
Shane Ray and Markus Golden, defensive ends: The Tigers have gained a reputation for being “Defensive Line U,” and this year’s duo is no exception. Shane Ray and Markus Golden have teamed up this season for a combined 22 sacks and 121 total tackles. Alabama hasn’t given up many sacks this season (11), so it will be interesting to see how drastic the offense changes if the Mizzou pair can cause havoc.
- Left tackle Cam Robinson and outside linebacker Ryan Anderson are day-to-day this week after both players sprained their shoulders against Auburn but should be ready to play for Saturday.
- Running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle) and wide receiver DeAndrew White (hamstring) have been limited in practice this week but should be ready to go for Missouri. Yeldon rushed for a season-best 127 yards and two scores and White caught a touchdown pass in the Crimson Tide’s win over Auburn last Saturday. Both players sat out against Western Carolina two weeks to nurse their nagging injuries.
- Tight end Brian Vogler and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart have been increasing their workloads this week after knee injuries limited them against Auburn last week (Stewart did not play at all.) Both players sustained “stretched knee” ligaments in last week’s 48-14 win over Western Carolina.
- Outside linebacker Denzel Devall (ankle) has also increased his workload this week and looks ready to play against Missouri. Devall sustained an ankle injury on the Thursday prior to Western Carolina two weeks ago and has not played in either game since. Earlier this season, Devall had a high ankle sprain at Ole Miss that caused him to miss the following three games.
- Running back Russell Hansbrough (ankle) was carted off the field against Arkansas last week but is expected to play in the SEC Championship Game, according to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel during a teleconference with reporters this past Sunday.
- Right tackle Taylor Chappell (elbow) is also probable to play on Saturday, according to Pinkel during the same teleconference.