Florida First, Tide Second In BCS

As expected, it will be number one ranked Florida against number two Alabama in Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championship Game. Polls were released Sunday with Florida first and the Crimson Tide second in the Bowl Championship Series Standings. Texas, expected to meet the SEC champion in the national championship game in Pasadena January 7, is third.

The 2009 SEC Football Championship Game will feature Western Division Champion Alabama (12-0, 8-0 SEC) against Eastern Division Champion Florida (12-0, 8-0 SEC) .  The Crimson Tide will be the designated home team.

Florida comes into the game ranked first in the Associated Press, USA Today, and Harris Interactive Polls while Alabama is second in the AP and third (behind Texas) in the USA Today and Harris Interactive Polls.  The BCS rankings include a bank of computer rankings. Alabama and Florida were dead even at number one by the computers.  

CBS will televise the game with kickoff shortly after 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time) from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (71,500). 

The two starting quarterbacks in the SEC Championship Game area combined 46-5 (.902).  Alabama's Greg McElroy is 12-0 while Florida's Tim Tebow is 34-5 (.872), which is fourth highest winning percentage all-time for starting quarterbacks in multiple years.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow became the SEC career total offensive yardage leader against Florida State.  Tebow has 11,389 career yards, surpassing Gator Chris Leak (11,350 from 2003-06). 

Alabama return specialist/cornerback Javier Arenas became the SEC career punt return yardage leader against Auburn.  Arenas has 1,725 career yards, surpassing Vanderbilt's Lee Nalley (1,695 from 1947-49).

Red Zone Defense:  Florida opponents are 7-of-23 for touchdowns while Alabama opponents are 8-of-20 for scores.  The rest of SEC averages 19-of-38 for TDs.

Florida punter Chas Henry leads the SEC with 44.83 percent of his punts inside-the-20 yard line (13 of 29), while Alabama punter P.J. Fitzgerald is second at 34.04 percent (16 of 47).  

Alabama and Florida defenses are one-two in percentage of three-downs-and-out this season.  Alabama has held opponents to 3-downs-and-out 68 of 149 times (45.64) while Florida has held opponents 45.39 percent of the time (64 of 141).  

Opponents have scored just 12 points off of Alabama turnovers this season, which is second in the league behind LSU's 11 points.  Opponents have scored 37 points off of Florida turnovers this season, which ranks fourth in the SEC.

Florida leads the SEC in points per offensive drive this season (2.88) while Alabama is third (2.39).  Florida leads the SEC in touchdown/drive efficiency, scoring 50 TDs on 140 offensive drives.  Alabama is second behind Florida in overall/drive efficiency, scoring on 67 of 150 drives (40 TDs and 27 FGs / 44.7 percent).  Florida has scored on 49.3 percent of its offensive drives this season (69 of 140 / 50 TDs and 19 FGs).

Alabama and Florida have combined to allow just 22 offensive TDs this season, which is less than seven other SEC teams.  Alabama has allowed 8 passing and 5 rushing TDs this season while Florida has allowed 6 passing and 3 rushing TDs this season.

The Southeastern Conference provided these additional notes on the season:

In 85 home football games this season, SEC stadiums were filled to 98.02 percent capacity.  Of the 85 games, 50 were sellouts.  A total of 6,485,224 witnessed first-hand SEC football in league stadiums this year.

SEC teams average 28.6 points per game in 2009, which is a three points per game increase over last year.  The national average is 27.1 and the SEC is second in the nation behind the Big 12, averaging 28.9 points per game.  SEC defenses allow just 20.7 points per game, which is 0.2 points per game higher than last year.

SEC defenses lead the nation in yards per offensive attempt in 2009.  Opponents average 4.95 yards per play against SEC defenses in 2009.  That equates to 3.84 per run play and 6.35 per pass play.  The pass play average leads the nation while the run play average is fourth in the nation (3.55 – Big 12 leads).

This season, 45.8 percent of SEC intra-conference games were decided by 10 points or less (22 of 48 games).  The 13.23 average scoring margin in intra-conference games is second in the nation behind the Big Ten (12.36 points per game).

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