Alabama quarterback Blake Sims completed 23 of 27 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns on the way to earning game Most Valuable Player honors and Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper had a game-record 12 catches for 83 yards to lead the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1 overall) to a 42-13 victory over 16th-ranked Missouri (10-3) in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game before a crowd of 73,526 on Saturday at the Georgia Dome (capacity: 72,000).
Alabama raced to a 14-0 lead and led at halftime, 21-3, before weathering a Missouri push in the third period that narrowed the margin to 21-13. But the Crimson Tide offense responded with a pair of touchdown drives spanning the end of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth period to put the game away. Sims produce the most accurate passing performance in SEC Championship Game history by completing 85.1 percent of his passes without an interception. The Crimson Tide set new standards for Alabama performances in an SEC title game by setting new title game records for first downs (28), points scored (42), offensive plays (76), rushing touchdowns (4) and pass completions (23).
Meanwhile, the Alabama defense limited Missouri to 313 yards (272 passing 41 rushing) and 10 first downs. Nose guard A’Shawn Robinson led the Tide’s effort with 9 tackles (5 solos), including 3 for losses and a quarterback hurry. Safety Landon Collins had 7 stops (6 solos), a tackle for a loss, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. The Tide defense had a season-high 11 quarterback hurries in the game, 6 tackles for loss, broke up 4 passes, and made numerous negative plays in the running game.
Four Tide players set individual highs for an SEC title game as Blake Sims set overall game records for total offense (281 yards) and completion percentage (85.1 percent); Amari Cooper set the mark for catches (12); Christion Jones set a game record for average yards per kickoff return (28.3 yards per return on 3 returns); and nose guard A’Shawn Robinson set a Tide record for tackles for loss in an SEC title game (3).
Alabama running back Derrick Henry set career single-game highs for rushes, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns on Saturday with 141 yards and 2 scores on 20 carries while T.J. Yeldon rushed for 47 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries. In addition to Cooper’s 12 catches, wide receiver DeAndrew White had a team-leading 101 receiving yards and a touchdown on 4 catches. For Missouri, wide receiver Jimmie Hunt caught 6 passes for 169 yards, running back Russell Hansbrough had 21 yards on 13 and quarterback Maty Mauk passed for 272 yards and a touchdown while completing 16 of 34 attempts.
The Alabama defense was led in tackles by linebacker Trey DePriest with 14 while safety Nick Perry had 13 stops and cornerback Geno Smith made 10 tackles. Perry also had two tackles for loss, a key interception and broke up another pass. Smith made two tackles for loss. Linebacker Reggie Ragland had 3 tackles, including a crucial fumble recovery. The Tide defense ended the game with 2 quarterback sacks, 9 tackles for loss, 6 pass breakups and 8 quarterback hurries.
Punter JK Scott averaged 43.3 yards on his 3 punts in the game, including a 52-yarder and 2 punts that were downed inside the Missouri 20-yard line.
The win gave Alabama a league-leading 24th SEC championship and moved the Tide to 5-4 all-time in SEC Championship Game appearances. Alabama’s 12th victory marks the eight time in Alabama’s history with 12 wins in a season, including the fifth time in 8 seasons under head coach Nick Saban. In moving to 3-2 all-time in the series with Missouri, the Crimson Tide moved to 31-10 against nationally-ranked opponents since 2008. Alabama improved to 17-6-1 all-time in games played in domed stadiums as head coach Nick Saban improved to 86-24 (.782) in his eighth season as head coach at Alabama.