Alabama is 10-1 overall and ranked first in the nation in most polls, including the College Football Playoff rankings that will determine the participants for the national championship. But a berth in the top four likely won’t happen without a win over 8-3 Auburn.
Alabama is 6-1 in Southeastern Conference games and also makes it to the SEC Championship Game with a win over the Tigers, 4-3 in the league.
The Crimson Tide and Auburn kick off at 6:45 p.m. CST in Bryant-Denny Stadium. ESPN will televise the game.
Blake Sims has done good things this year. The first thing he did – and perhaps most surprising of anything he has done this season – is win the job. Almost no one expected the 6-0, 208-pound Gainesville, Ga., native to be Bama’s quarterback. Conventional wisdom had it that Alabama Coach Nick Saban was taking the back-up quarterback from Florida State, Jake Coker, to be Bama’s quarterback.
Earlier this week, Sims was asked if he was excited about being the quarterback against Auburn. He said, “I haven’t had many thoughts. But at the beginning of the season, I guess you can say I dreamed about it. I’m looking forward to this game and playing my role and executing the best I can.”
Sims has completed 187 of 301 passes for 2,676 yards and 20 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He ranks fifth in the SEC in passing yardage and is second among starters in passing efficiency.
Sims is not a running quarterback, but when he has to use his legs, he does so effectively, He’s third in rushing for the Tide with 59 runs for 279 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, with five TDs.
Statistically, Sims had his best game in a 42-21 win over Florida as he completed 23 of 33 passes for 445 yards (second in Alabama history) and four touchdowns. In addition to the 87-yard TD pass to Drake, Sims connected with Amari Cooper on a 79-yard touchdown pass.
Two late-season games, though, showed the leadership of Sims. Trailing LSU in Baton Rouge by 13-10 with less than a minute to play, Sims drove Bama to a tying field goal, forcing overtime, and then connected with DeAndrew White on a game-winning touchdown.
A week later Bama hosted No. 1 ranked Mississippi State and the Tide led by only six points in the fourth quarter. Sims directed a drive that 15 plays and covered 76 yards, eating up six minutes of playing time. Along the way Sims converted three times on third and long, once with a pass and twice with scramble runs. Alabama took a 25-20 win and took over first place in the nation.
Now Blake Sims is ready to play a game that may define his career.
“I just try to stay calm,” he said. “I try to focus on my family and my teammates and try to keep my composure and try not to listen to the negative things or the good things.”
Sims said, “It’s going to be very important for us to get off to a fast start. It’s going to help us out with momentum. Even if we get the jump on them, we/ve got to keep it. Because Auburn, they play for a whole 60 minutes, you never know what they’re going to do in the fourth quarter.”
Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, “Blake is very, very well liked by his teammates, has a great personality, I never heard Blake say a bad thing about anybody. Always willing to help and serve somebody else with what he does, and I think he has a lot of confidence right now. I think his teammates have a lot of confidence in him.
“We just do everything that we can do to help him execute and do what we need him to do in his position to take advantage of what other people on our team can do when he distributes the ball correctly. I think he’s getting more and more confidence in that.”