Tide rolls over Missouri for another SEC title

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Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - After patiently waiting for his time to come, Blake Sims more than showed he was ready for the moment.

With the fifth-year senior throwing for 262 yards and two touchdowns in a near-flawless performance, No. 1 Alabama left no doubt of its imminent inclusion in the College Football Playoff with a 42-13 manhandling of 14th- ranked Missouri in the SEC Championship Game.

The Crimson Tide's authoritative victory virtually assured them of playing in one of the two national semifinal games to be held on New Year's Day, most likely in the Sugar Bowl as the top overall seed in the four-team playoff.

It was also allow Sims, a first-year starter who was named the game's MVP, the opportunity to attempt to do what A.J. McCarron and Greg McElroy did before him -- quarterback the Crimson Tide to a national championship.

"I don't know if I've ever seen a player go through any more than Blake went through for four years, and never once did he ever not do whatever he needed to do to help the team," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "This is phenomenal success that he's had with this season, but it's a credit to his character and his work ethic."

Sims connected on a sharp 23-of-27 passes, with 12 of his completions going to Heisman candidate Amari Cooper, and Alabama (12-1) churned out 242 yards on the ground in dealing Missouri a second straight loss in the conference title game. The East champion Tigers fell 59-42 to Auburn in Atlanta a year ago.

Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon each ran for a pair of touchdowns, with Henry amassing a career-high 141 yards on 20 carries. DeAndrew White added 101 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches, with Cooper contributing 83 yards in the blowout.

Jimmie Hunt racked up a career-best 169 yards on six receptions for Missouri (10-3), but the Tigers mustered just 41 rushing yards while allowing 504 total to the Crimson Tide.

"I'm really disappointed (in) how we played," said Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel. "We played a great football team. You play a great football team, you've got to play well. They're going to make plays, and you've got to make plays."

Maty Mauk couldn't match Sims' exploits, with the Mizzou signal-caller finishing an inconsistent 16-of-34 for 272 yards and a touchdown.

Sims stated his case for MVP honors right away. He hit on his first nine passes, five of which came on a 10-play, 68-yard opening drive in which Alabama effortlessly moved down the field to grab an early edge on Yeldon's 1- yard touchdown run just over 3 1/2 minutes in.

Missouri's offense, on the other hand, mustered a meager 27 yards and one first down over its first four possessions. But the Tigers were still able to keep it a 7-0 score into the second quarter, aided by a 43-yard missed field goal by Adam Griffith on Alabama's fourth series.

The Crimson Tide had no problem extending the lead on their subsequent drive, however, as White got behind the Tigers' defense to haul in Sims' perfectly thrown deep ball for a 58-yard touchdown with 11:48 left in the first half.

The big play turned out to be a doubly crushing blow for the Tigers, as star defensive end Shane Ray was ejected on the score for delivering a blow to Sims' head well after the throw.

Missouri did manage to generate something positive on its ensuing trek, as Hunt came down with Mauk's up-for-grabs heave for a 32-yard gain that positioned Andrew Baggett for a 33-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 14-3.

Alabama countered with another impressive offensive set, a 14-play, 75-yard march in which Sims converted three third-down situations with completions. Yeldon finished the jaunt with a 2-yard run to send the Crimson Tide into the break owning a commanding 21-3 advantage.

"We just went out there and just tried to play," said Sims. "The offensive line just put their hand down. They moved the line of scrimmage, just like our coaches told us, and we didn't want to look back."

Sims went 15-of-17 for 160 yards over the first two quarters, while Cooper had 10 catches totaling 61 yards at the half.

Missouri regrouped after the intermission to make a bid to get back in it in the third quarter. Mauk escaped a rush on 3rd-and-10 to fire a 63-yard deep strike to Hunt down the left sideline to begin the third quarter, then hit Bud Sasser on a slant shortly afterward for a 1-yard touchdown on 4th-and-goal.

Mauk and Hunt were at it again on the Tigers' subsequent drive, teaming up for a 47-yard gain on another 3rd-and-10 play that led to Baggett's 33-yard field goal which pulled Missouri within 21-13 with 4:37 to go in the third quarter.

The Tigers' next three possessions resulted in two punts and a lost fumble, however, as Alabama pulled away.

Three clutch catches by Cristion Jones, the last a 6-yard touchdown grab, highlighted a 10-play, 64-yard series that put the Tide up 28-13 early in the fourth quarter. Alabama then ripped off 90 yards in just six plays after getting the ball back, with Henry capping the drive by breaking free for a 26- yard touchdown run with under eight minutes left.

"I thought that we made a run at it in the third quarter, when we got a touchdown and a field goal. Then they answered with a 65-yard drive, and we went out and punted, and then they got a 90-yard drive," Pinkel remarked. "So they responded really like you want a football team to do."

Henry then scampered 45 yards to the Missouri 1-yard line following a Tigers' turnover before powering over the goal line on the next play for the game's final points.

Game Notes

Sims' 83.2 percent completion percentage established a new SEC Championship Game record, bettering the mark of 77.1 percent set by NFL veteran Jason Campbell for Auburn in 2004 ... The West division has now won the last six SEC title games, with Alabama recording three victories during that stretch ... Saban improved to 9-1 in games that decided either the SEC title or the national championship ... Missouri fell to 0-4 all-time in conference title games, with two of those losses coming in the Big 12 ... Henry's previous career best was 113 rushing yards, set against West Virginia in the SEC opener.