- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

No. 2 Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC, No. 2 CFP) vs. No. 18 Florida (10-2, 7-1, No. 18 CFP), 4 p.m. (CBS)

Line: Alabama by 17 1/2

Series Record: Alabama leads 24-14.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Alabama is looking to lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row. The Crimson Tide had bounced back from an upset loss to Mississippi in mid-September to put itself in position for Nick Saban’s fourth national championship in nine years as coach. Florida is too far back in the rankings to crack the four-team playoff, but the Gators could earn a spot in the Sugar Bowl with an upset.

KEY MATCHUP

Alabama RB Derrick Henry vs. Florida’s defense. Henry is a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy and would likely lock up the award with one more dominating performance. The junior has rushed for 1,797 yards this season and is coming off his best game yet, carrying for 271 yards in the Iron Bowl victory over Auburn. Henry figures to get a stiff challenge from the Gators, who rank seventh in the nation in rushing yards allowed (111.3 per game) and can stack the line against Alabama, hoping to force the Tide to beat them through the air.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Florida: RB Kelvin Taylor. Given Florida’s troubles in the passing game, Taylor needs to come up big for the Gators to have any chance. He’s rushed for 977 yards and 13 touchdowns but will be going against the nation’s toughest team to run against; Alabama is surrendering just 78.9 yards per game on the ground, and doesn’t really have to worry about getting beat through the air by Florida QB Treon Harris.

Alabama: QB Jake Coker. The senior has done a solid job since locking down the starting position, completing more than 65 percent of his passes for 2,285 yards and 15 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Of course, Coker hasn’t been under much pressure with Henry at running back and plenty of support from a dominant defense. He was picked off twice in the Tide’s loss to Ole Miss, but has thrown just two interceptions over the last six games.

FACTS & FIGURES

This will be the eighth meeting between Alabama and Florida in the SEC championship game and the first since 2009, when the Crimson Tide won 32-12 in a matchup between the nation’s top-ranked teams. … The Gators hold a 4-3 edge over Alabama when playing for the league title. … Saban is three wins away from joining Bear Bryant and Frank Leahy as the only coaches to win four AP national championships. Bryant captured five AP titles with the Crimson Tide, while Leahy won four at Notre Dame. … In addition to his titles at Alabama in 2009, 2011 and 2012, Saban also won a BCS championship at LSU in 2003. … Jim McElwain is the third first-year coach to reach the SEC title game, joining LSU’s Les Miles (2005) and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (2013). … Henry has picked up 69 percent of his rushing yards (1,235) after the initial hit by the defense. … Florida TE Jake McGee has picked up a first down or scored a touchdown on 21 of his 38 receptions. … The Tide’s defense has forced three-and-out on more than 41 percent of opposing possessions (69 of 167) … Florida freshman WR Antonio Callaway has three 100-yard receiving games. … Alabama is plus-nine in turnover margin since losing the ball five times against Ole Miss. … The Tide has reached 11 wins for the seventh time during Saban’s tenure. … The SEC championship has been held at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome since 1994. It will move next door to Mercedes-Benz Stadium after the new facility opens in 2017.

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AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org

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