Despite Florida's hard-fought efforts during the third quarter of play and roller coaster ride of scoring and emotion poured out onto the playing field at Mercedes Benz stadium, the Alabama Crimson Tide proved to possess too much talent for the Gators to contain in the SEC Championship Game.
Falling 52-to-46 against the top-ranked team in the nation, UF fought their way back in the second half—a feat not many expected following half number one of the contest.
Accounting for 366 yards and five touchdowns in the first half of play, the Tide sputtered coming out of gates in the second half—turning the ball over on downs after Kaiir Elam took down Devonta Smith short of the line to gain on fourth down—and opened the door for Florida to climb back into the contest.
With the Gators' offense turning around and squandering the opportunity with a four-play drive that amounted to just 16 yards—by way of a fifteen-yard penalty and one-yard run by Kyle Trask on a quarterback draw—Florida’s defense forced another crucial stop on the ensuing drive.
This time, Brian Johnson’s unit would capitalize.
Driving down the field on a twelve-play, 80-yard drive in just under five minutes, redshirt freshman Nay'Quan Wright bullied his way through the Alabama front seven and made his way into the end zone for a three-yard Gators score.
Characteristically exploding in the third quarter—scoring 14 unanswered in that period—Florida looked as if the momentum was starting to sway in their favor.
After continued back and forth on the scoreboard from that point forward, Alabama maintained the lead they had carried since early in the first quarter before seemingly putting the game to rest with a 15-yard reception by Smith with under five minutes remaining.
The Gators' score to make it a six-point game made things interesting for the last seconds, but a critical sack on the last play of the game officially sealed the deal for the Tide.
Leading the Tide’s scoring onslaught, Mac Jones threw for 418 yards on 77% completion and five touchdowns. In total, Alabama accounted for 605 yards on 83 total plays, with Smith and Najee Harris—who combined for 245 yards and five touchdowns—accounting for 70.9% of that production.
On the other hand, Florida totaled 462 yards where Toney and Kyle Pitts lead the way with 153 and 129, respectively. Heisman contender Kyle Trask added to his resumé with a 408-yard, three-touchdown performance against a vastly improved Alabama defense as the year progressed.
At the end of the day, Florida’s loss officially turns off the light on a season that held high expectations for the unit at the season's beginning.
Falling short in the last meaningful game of the year, Florida’s 2020 season will be remembered for years for a multitude of different reasons and occurrences.
In this game—and the season for that matter—individuals surrounding Florida football will be asking: what could have been given a unison effort by the offensive and defensive sides of the ball all season long?