Here is my SEC Championship Game analysis, preview and prediction.
Record last week: 7-2
Season total: 96-17 (85%)
Season Recap: 3 weeks with 0 losses; 8 weeks with 1 loss; 2 week with 2 losses; 1 week with 5 losses
THE TEAMS: Missouri (11-1, 7-1 SEC) is the Eastern Division Champion and the visiting team. Auburn (11-1, 7-1 SEC) is the Western Division (Co) Champion and the home team.
NATIONAL RANKINGS: Missouri and Auburn come into the game as the fifth and third ranked teams, respectively, in the BCS Standings, Associated Press, Harris Interactive and USA Today polls.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: The game, which started in 1992, is in its 22nd year. It was a result of conference expansion, which saw Arkansas and South Carolina become the first members added in SEC history. Over 1.5 million fans have witnessed the pageantry of the game first-hand, with 20 sellouts in its history. (Only 1993 and 1995 were not). The first two games were played at Legion Field in Birmingham and the game has been played at the Georgia Dome since (1994).
SEC CHAMPIONS: Auburn will be vying for its eighth SEC Championship and first since 2010. Missouri is attempting to win its first SEC title in only its second year as a member of the SEC. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for the 2010 SEC Champions, a game where Auburn set a SEC Championship Game record for most points scored with 56.
TELEVISION: CBS Sports will televise the game nationally for the ninth straight year (VERNE LUNDQUIST, Play-by-Play; GARY DANIELSON, Analyst; TRACY WOLFSON, Sidelines). CBS has aired the game nationally since 2001. ABC Sports televised the game from 1992-2000.
TV RATINGS: Last season’s SEC Championship game between Georgia and Alabama drew a 9.8/16.2 rating and was the most watched game of the 2012 college football regular season. The 2009 game between Florida and Alabama is the highest rated SEC title game earning a national household rating/share of 11.1/23.
RADIO: Managed by IMG College, the SEC Radio Network will broadcast the game to the 11-state SEC region and around the nation on SiriusXM. (SEC Radio Network: DAVE NEAL, Play-by-Play; DAVE ARCHER, Analyst; DAVE BAKER, Sidelines). The game is available on SiriusXM College SportsNation Channel 91. The Auburn Radio Network is on SiriusXM 86 and the Missouri Radio Network is on Sirius 92, XM 199.
FULL HOUSE: The previous 21 SEC Football Championship Games have a total accumulated attendance of 1,567,015. The 19 games in the Georgia Dome have attracted 1,412,579 fans. The 74,346 average is 103.26 percent of capacity in the 72,000-seat stadium. 19 of the 21 games have been sold out, including the last 17 contests. This will be the 20th consecutive game in The Georgia Dome.
SERIES: Missouri leads the series with Auburn 1-0. That meeting came in the 1973 Sun Bowl, which saw Missouri defeat Auburn 34-17.
IN THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: This marks Auburn’s fifth appearance and Missouri’s first in the contest. Auburn has a record of 2-2 in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn was last in Atlanta in 2010, defeating South Carolina 56-17.
BOWLING: The winner of the SEC Championship Game receives the conference’s automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series. Neither Missouri or Auburn was bowl eligible in 2012.
VEGASINSIDER POINT SPREAD: Auburn -2
THE KEY MUST-WATCH MATCHUPS:
Missouri DE Michael Sam vs. Auburn LT Greg Robinson
Missouri MLB Andrew Wilson vs. Auburn QB Nick Marshall
Missouri CB E.J. Gaines vs. Auburn WR Sammie Coates
Missouri RT Mitch Morse vs. Auburn LDE Dee Ford
Missouri QB James Franklin vs. Auburn FS Jermaine Whitehead & BS Ryan Smith
Missouri RB Henry Josey vs. Auburn WLB Cassanova McKinzy
Missouri WR L’Damian Washington vs. Auburn CB Chris Davis
Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham vs. Auburn CB Jonathon Mincy
Missouri WR Marcus Lucas vs. Auburn Star DB Robensen Therezie
Missouri PK Andrew Baggett vs. Auburn PK Cody Parkey
VINNY’S VIBE: The winner of this game gets in to the BCS title game, if Ohio State (or FSU) loses. Will the moment, with the accompanying pressure, be too much for either team? I don't think so. This is a tough call between two terrific teams. Both teams have been come a long way since little to no preseason expectations. Both have been really good for a while. I bought-in to both early, even though I didn’t think either would be in Atlanta for this one. Both teams play with a chip on their shoulder and a swagger. They always believe they’ll win, especially Auburn after their last two game finishes. I’ve actually gone the complete opposite from the betting line. I started out going with Auburn by a couple of points (line opened Mizzou -2) but I moved over to Missouri by a few (line now at Auburn -2). Missouri is very good in more areas than Auburn. Auburn is the most dynamic in one area, the running game. The athletic and fast defense, especially at DE, gives Missouri a shot to at least slow-down the Auburn run game. The way to do that is to not give-up the long or “house” runs. Missouri’s ball-hawking pass defense will come-up with a couple of INTs of Nick Marshall. Auburn has an advantage in special teams, as it does with most teams. However, where Missouri is going to win the game is on offense. James Franklin will have his best game since returning from injury. He has so many great weapons and so many ways to beat you on offense. The offensive line is much like Auburn, severely underrated and a little nasty. Mizzou’s tall and talented receivers, effective TE and multiple, versatile running backs will be too much for Auburn to defend. Mizzou won’t be tight or play not to lose, like I felt Alabama did in the Iron Bowl. I think we’ll have a fun, high-scoring, down-to-the-last-play SEC Championship, like last year.
MY PREDICTION: Missouri 34 Auburn 31
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