’Bama did not wait long to get going, Blake Sims went 4-for-4 in the opening drive, recording no third downs, to register the 7-0 lead in just over three minutes. With the Tide’s offense rolling, the opposite could be said about Missouri’s offense. Mizzou could not move the ball at all in the first half, going three-and-out in its first two drives.
Things only got worse for the Tigers in the second quarter, when Shane Ray was called for targeting after a tackle on Sims. Ray was ejected and Mizzou was without one of its best pass rushers for the remainder of the game. ‘Bama took a 21-3 lead into the break.
Although, Maty Mauk and the Missouri offense seemed to wake up in the third quarter, scoring ten unanswered points, Alabama’s offense once again proved lethal and ran away with the game in the fourth quarter.
Sims was named the MVP after the win after going 23-of-27 for 262 yards and two touchdowns.
GAME BALL: Can’t argue with the MVP choice. Blake Sims handled the Missouri pressure very well, making the throws when it mattered. Sims set the pass completion percentage mark at 85.2 percent and tied the championship game record for consecutive completions with nine.
KEY PLAY(S): There were two big moments in this Championship game. Although one could argue the opening drive from Alabama was foreshadowing the events to come, Shane Ray’s ejection from the game for targeting was a big momentum shift. Not only did Alabama score on its first play of the drive with a big throw from Sims to DeAndrew White, but Mizzou’s best pass rusher had to go watch the remainder of the game from the locker room.
In the second half, however, Mauk and his offense were able to finally put together two consecutive scoring drives to make it a one possession game. On the ensuing Alabama drive, Sims and the offense march right down the field to make it a 15 point game and ending the Mizzou momentum.
PRAISE ALL AROUND: Alabama head coach Nick Saban shed his tough demeanor to pile on the praise.
“I’ve backed them when I needed to back them, and I booted them in the butt when we needed to,” he said. “They’ve always responded the right way. I’ve never wanted a group to have a chance to be successful in the game as I did tonight in winning the SEC championship.
“Everybody sort of minimized the importance of this game now and wants to talk about the playoff. But I’ll tell you what, it’s a significant accomplishment.”
SENSATIONAL SIMS: Saban continued to heap on the praise for his starting quarterback, who according to Saban, was not always his first pick at QB.
“I've never seen a guy work so hard from last spring when he had an opportunity to be the quarterback, through the summer, and to work in fall camp and get the confidence of his players and execute well and just learn how to take what the defense gives. He has done a phenomenal job for us all year long.
“As a coach,” Saban added., “you love to see guys that go through what he's gone through, work so hard, always persevered, and then have success. This is a phenomenal success that he's had with the season, but it's a credit to his character and his work ethic.”
SWEET HOMECOMING: Sims is from Gainesville, Georgia, which is not too far from Atlanta. The signal caller said he was happy to finally get the win in the Georgia Dome in front of his family.
”It's a great feeling,” said Sims. “Back in high school, I played here my last game in the championship, and we lost. Pretty much I was just playing for everybody down the road in Gainesville High. And just pretty much just going out playing, doing everything that Coach Saban has taught me and Coach Kiffin has taught me and just trust my players that they're going to play hearts out and leave no regrets on the field.”
RECEIVING RECORD:Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper set a championship game record with 12 receptions, while Missouri’s Jimmie Hunt’s 169 yards is the third-highest total in championship game history.
THEY SAID IT: Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkell had some tough words for his team after the loss.
“I'm really disappointed how we played. We played a great football team. You play a great football team, you've got to play well,” Pinkell said in his press conference. “They're going to make plays, and you've got to make plays. I'm responsible for how my team plays. Having penalties, having a turnover, I'm just very disappointed.”
THE EJECTION: “Our coaches upstairs saw it, and they agreed with it,” Pinkel said. “So that’s what it was.
“We’ve had personal fouls in these games, penalties ... the last three or four weeks also. You get in big games like this, and it’s not very good. I’m responsible for that.”
Defensive end Shane Ray, however, did not feel he targeted Blake Sims in any way.
”Normally I don’t think that would have been called,” said Ray. . “Normally if you are two steps away from the quarterback and he hasn’t released the ball and it s not considered a late hit. So I was within two steps from the quarterback and I hit him as soon as he released the ball and was not targeting the head. I lead with my hands so I don’t understand how it was targeting… the refs made the call there is nothing I can do about it.”
BY THE NUMBERS: 10-the number of Missouri first downs. 504-Alabama’s total offensive yards on Saturday. 21- Mizzou’s gained just 21 yards of offense in the first quarter. 41- Alabama’s defensive line kept Mizzou’s ground game quiet only allowing 41-yards rushing. 0-the number of turnovers Missouri forced.
WHATS NEXT: Both teams will await their fates on Sunday. Top-ranked Alabama is a lock for a playoff spot, however, many continue to debate on who the Crimson tide will face. Missouri also awaits its bowl game opponent.Follow @JacquieFran_