- Edward Aschoff, College Football
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It's time to check out notes and stats from the SEC and ESPN Stats & Information:
The Southeastern Conference has had at least five teams ranked in at least one AP Top 25 poll every year since expansion (1992). This season, as in last season, the SEC had at least five teams ranked in every AP poll. Since 1992, the SEC has had at least five teams ranked in the AP Top 25 a total of 252 times, an average of 11.95 times per year. Since 1992 (counting 2012), the SEC has had at least five teams ranked for at least 10 weeks in 17 of the last 21 years. The most SEC teams to be ranked in a poll in a given week was the pre-season poll of 2011, when eight SEC teams were ranked.
Nine of SEC’s 14 teams have played back-to-back games this season against AP Top 25. LSU played five straight against AP Top 25 (No. 10 Florida, No. 3 South Carolina, No. 20 Texas A&M, No. 1 Alabama, No. 22 Mississippi State) while Tennessee played four straight (No. 5 Georgia, No. 19 Mississippi State, No. 1 Alabama, No. 17 South Carolina). Alabama, Mississippi State and South Carolina each had three straight games against AP Top 25 and Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Texas A&M had two games consecutively against AP Top 25 teams. A&M has played back-to-back Top 25 games twice this season.
Fifteen FBS teams have played three straight games this season against Top 25 competition, including five from the SEC. LSU and Texas Tech are the only teams to have played five straight games against Top 25 teams while Tennessee and Kansas State played four straight against Top 25 teams.
After last weekend, seven SEC teams played five games against Top 25 teams at the time teh game was played -- Florida, Missouri, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Auburn.
Alabama vs Georgia
AJ McCarron has 10 touchdown passes off play-action this season. That is twice as many as he had all of last season. He has not thrown an interception off play-action since the loss to LSU last November. That was the only game in McCarron’s career that he had more interceptions than touchdowns off play-action.
McCarron has attempted 57.6 percent of his first-down passes off play-action this season. Eight of his 10 play-action touchdowns have come on first down.
McCarron is completing 64.7 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or longer this season, an increase of more than 25 percentage points from last season. Play-action has been the key. McCarron is completing 73.3 percent of such passes off play-action this season, including seven of his 10 touchdowns.
Alabama is averaging 6.0 yards per carry on designed running plays this season, the highest average in the SEC. On these runs, the Tide are averaging an SEC-best 4.2 yards before contact. They have made it at least 5 yards past the line of scrimmage without being touched on 35.7 percent of their designed runs.
Alabama runs downhill with 67.9 percent of their designed running plays coming between the tackles in SEC games. The Tide average 6.4 yards per carry on such running plays with about one in every five attempts going for at least 10 yards.
Alabama leads FBS in scoring defense for the second straight season. The Tide do not allow big plays. They have conceded 89 plays that gained 10 yards or more, nine fewer than any other FBS team. Opponents are averaging 1.9 drives per game that reach the red zone against Alabama, the lowest average in FBS. When opponents do reach the red zone, they score on 61 percent of their possessions, the lowest percentage in the nation.
Alabama has given up 0.82 yards per rush in the red zone this season, the lowest average in FBS this season.
Alabama has scored 157 points off turnovers this season, the most in the SEC and the fourth most in FBS. The Tide have given up 23 points off turnovers, tied with South Carolina for the fewest in the SEC and the fourth fewest in FBS.
Alabama has allowed 31 passing first downs on third down this season, seven more than it allowed all of last year. The Tide have given up 17 in their last three games against FBS opponents, including a season-high eight against LSU. That is the most the Tide have allowed in any three-game stretch against FBS opponents in the last five seasons.
In its last four FBS games, Alabama has allowed opponents to complete 59.3 percent of their third-down passes thrown at or past the first-down marker, with 16 first downs. The Tide gave up just six such completions in their first seven games of the season, including three games with none.
Aaron Murray is competing 55.6 percent of his passes thrown at or past the first-down marker on third down this season, with eight touchdowns and one interception.
Since Shawn Williams’ "soft" comments, the Bulldogs have allowed 43 points in five games, including 19 in three SEC games. In those three conference games, they held each opponent under 80 yards rushing and had at least four sacks.
Georgia has 75 plays that have gained 20 yards or more, seventh most in FBS this season. The Bulldogs and Texas A&M are the only two teams with at least 50 such completions and 25 such rushes. Georgia has had at least one play gain 30 yards in every game this season except for its lone loss at South Carolina.
Alabama has given up 32 plays that gained 20 yards or more this season, the fewest in the SEC and the sixth fewest in FBS.
Georgia averages 7.9 yards per play on first down this season, the second-highest average in the nation. The Bulldogs averaged over 5.0 yards per play on first down in every game except for their lone loss at South Carolina.
Alabama is also efficient on first down. The Tide and the Bulldogs are two of the 10 FBS teams that average over 7 yards per play on first down this season. They are also two of the four teams that average more than 11 yards per pass attempt on first down.
Murray has increased his completion percentage on passes thrown 20 yards or longer by 18.5 points this season compared to last. Murray has not thrown an interception on a pass of this length since the 2011 SEC championship.
Alabama is allowing opponents to complete 26.4 percent of their passes thrown 20 yards or longer this season, with two touchdowns and eight interceptions. Yet, in their lone loss, Texas A&M completed 4-of-5 such passes against the Tide for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Murray is completing 66.3 percent of his passes when opponents send five or more pass-rushers on a play this season, up 10.1 points from last season. Murray has just two interceptions against the blitz this season, after having nine in 2011. But, his two interceptions came in his only two games against ranked opponents this season (Florida and South Carolina).
Alabama has sent five or more pass rushers on 32.7 percent of its opponents’ dropbacks this season. The Tide have recorded 16 on their 30 sacks when blitzing this season.
There is some good historical news for Georgia in this game. Of the 28 previous teams to play for the BCS championship, eight entered the final weekend of the regular season outside the BCS top-two -- and four of them moved up after winning the SEC championship. Even more good news for the Dawgs. All four of those teams went on to win the national championship (Florida 2008, LSU 2007, Florida 2006, LSU 2003).
In all of Alabama’s previous seven appearances, Florida was the opponent. As for Georgia, the Tide will be the third different opponent it has faced in the SEC championship (Arkansas and LSU were the others). Familiarity will not be something either team can rely on either. These schools haven’t met since 2008 and have met only four times since 1996.
For the fifth straight year, the SEC Championship Game will feature either the AP No. 1 or No. 2 team (or both). Last year featured No. 1 LSU, while 2010 had No. 2 Auburn. In 2009 it was No. 1 Florida vs No. 2 Alabama and in 2008, it was No. 1 Alabama vs No. 2 Florida.
Though consistently recognized as the top conference in the country, the SEC championship has been anything but competitive through the years. Since 1998 alone, only one game has been decided by fewer than 10 points and the average margin of victory in those 14 games is 19.0. The last two games have been decided by 39 and 32 points.
This is the first time both SEC Championship Game participants enter off a win in which each scored at least 40 points. And it’s just the second time both participants enter off a win of at least 28 points. 2008 was the other instance (Florida won final game 45-15, Alabama won final game 36-0).
It's time to check out notes and stats from the SEC and ESPN Stats & Information: The Southeastern Conference has had at least five teams ranked in at least one AP Top 25 poll every year since expansion (1992).