Alabama, Florida Statistical Leaders

After a handful of games have been played, statistics seem to be more meaningful. We always caution against putting too much stock in statistics. For most of this season, that seemed to be no more than good sportsmanship as Alabama's statistical advantage over opponents was quite pronounced each week.

This week it may be more for comfort that we remind statistics can be misleading. While Alabama heretofore has been the more dominant team against Southeastern Conference opponents, in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, Florida is very strong in the statistical comparison.

Alabama does have a slight edge in the only statistic that really matters. The Crimson Tide is 12-0 and ranked first in the nation. Florida is 11-1 and ranked second in the nation.

Bama and the Gators will meet for the SEC Championship at the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta on Saturday. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time) with national television coverage by CBS.

Florida has the advantage offensively and Alabama is slightly better in defensive statistics in a comparison of the champions of the two SEC divisions.

In scoring offense, Florida is first in the SEC at 46.3 points per game, Alabama a distant second at 32.1 points per game. In scoring defense, Bama is first allowing 11.5 points per game, the Gators just behind in second and giving up 12.2 points per game.

Florida is tops in rushing offense, 237.1 yards per game, the Crimson Tide second, 201.5. In rushing defense, Alabama is best, allowing 73.6 yards per game, Florida third allowing 102.8.

In passing offense, Florida is fifth, 212.3 yards per game, Alabama eighth, 169.3. In pass defense, Florida is third, giving up 172.9 yards per game, just in front of Alabama in fifth place and allowing 174.9.

In passing efficiency, Florida is first and Alabama fourth and in pass efficiency defense Florida is first and Alabama second.

In total offense, Florida is first, 449.4 yards per game, Alabama sixth, 370.8. In total defense, Alabama is first, permitting just 248.5 yards per game, the Gators third, giving up 275.7.

One statistic considered of great importance and in which Alabama has had the advantage over opponents all year is takeaway-turnover ratio. In this game, Florida had a huge advantage. The Gators are number one in the nation at plus 21 (nine fumbles recovered and 23 pass interceptions for 32 takeaways against eight fumbles lost and three passes intercepted for 11 turnovers). Alabama is second in the SEC, but a distant second to the Gators. Alabama is at plus nine (nine fumble recoveries and 15 interceptions for 24 takeaways against nine fumbles lost and six passes intercepted for 15 turnovers).

Coaches also look at third down success. Florida is first in the SEC in converting third down opportunities at 64-131 for 48.9 per cent. Alabama is a distant second, 67-158for 42.4 per cent. In third down defense, Bama is first in the SEC, permitting 43 of 172 opportunities for 25 per cent and Florida is fourth, 52-167 for 31.1 per cent.

In Red Zone performance, Florida is second in the league on offense, scoring 53 of 58 trips (both SEC highs) for 91.4 per cent with 44 touchdowns and nine of nine field goals. Alabama is sixth, 41-49 for 83.7 per cent, 28 touchdowns and 13-17 field goals. The Gators are first in Red Zone Defense, allowing 21 scores in 31 trips, 67.7 per cent. Alabama is eighth at 81.2 per cent, but has allowed only 16 trips inside the Tide 20, which is best in the league, as is the 13 scores allowed.

One statistic that would be considered of no importance to the fast-scoring Gators and very important to Alabama is time of possession. Bama is best in the SEC at 32:32, Florida 10th at 29:32.

Alabama is the SEC's least penalized team, only 48 penalties for an average of 35.2 yards per game. Florida is 11th, 88 penalties for an average of 59.4 yards per game.

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