Three ways Florida can beat Alabama in SEC championship

Lots of people think the SEC championship game lost its luster when Florida lost to Florida State with a miserable display of offensive football. Alabama is favored by 17 1/2 points. Sagarin says Bama wins by 10. I searched and could find no one willing to pick the Gators to win outright, and few who are taking the points. Not even Gators fans seem to think they have a chance.

I'm excited about this game, though. That's because if the Gators spring the upset, it will keep the SEC out of the four-team playoffs field and my dream of an expanded playoffs will be closer to coming true. The Noles beating the Gators was Phase I, but that was the easy part because the Noles are better than Florida. Now comes Phase II, Florida upsetting the Crimson Tide, and that's the hard part because the Tide is better than both.

It can be done, though. Like any underdog the Gators will need some good luck, but here's three ways to beat Bama that are within their control.

1. Make Bama pass

Yeah, that's easier said than done with Heisman hopeful Derrick Henry running the rock behind the typical big and bad Bama o-line that wears down opponents. But Florida has by far the best rushing defense the Tide has seen this season: the Gators rank fourth in rushing S&P defense; the best ranking among Alabama's previous opponents is Wisconsin at No. 13. Tennessee has a lesser run defense than Florida and held the Tide to 117 yards on 42 attempts (2.8 per rush). That forced the Tide to lean more on middling QB Jake Coker, who to his credit completed 21 of 24 passes for 247 yards but also threw an interception and was sacked five times. The Gators should sell out against the run and see if Coker can make plays against Florida's outstanding secondary.

2. Feature Demarcus Robinson

Florida's most talented wide receiver (and a Fort Valley native) missed the game against the Seminoles because of suspension, his fourth in three years in Gainesville, Florida's already-pedestrian pass offense came to a halt. Gators coach Jim McElwain isn't saying what Robinson did to earn the suspension, nor will he disclose how much Robinson might play against the Tide. I say McElwain not only should let Robinson play but he should feature him. Get the ball into Robinson's hands in space as much as possible with simple plays and let him try to make something happen. By now Robinson surely is thinking about declaring for the NFL draft, where he will be an intriguing prospect, so the Gators should use that ambition to their advantage. Robinson is highly motivated to show scouts he's a star on a big stage so give him the chance to do it.

3. Trust in Treon

I don't mean let QB Treon Harris fling the ball all over the field because that's obviously not his thing because of accuracy issues. But Harris is capable of delivering the occasional big play against elite defenses. He had three passes longer than 30 yards at LSU and also a 17-yard run. Against Georgia, Harris scrambled and delivered a 66-yard dagger to Antonio Callaway. The Gators will need running back Kelvin Taylor to keep the chains moving against Bama but they need some big passing plays to at least flip the field and make it easier for the defense to slow Alabama and force Coker to have to make some big plays. The Gators shouldn't be afraid to let Harris take some shots.