Henry-led Alabama punches playoff ticket with win over Florida

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Derrick Henry's grip on the Heisman Trophy is a bit tighter, and Alabama's grip on a College Football Playoff spot is as tight as it needs to be.

The Crimson Tide beat Florida, 29-15, on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game and Henry rushed for 189 yards to break Herschel Walker's SEC single-season rushing record. Henry now has 1,986 yards for the season (Walker had 1,891 yards in 1981). Florida's defense contained Henry effectively for much of the first half, though he began finding more rushing room in the second half as UF's defense began to tire. Henry also scored a rushing touchdown for the 18th consecutive game, and is expected to be announced as a Heisman Trophy finalist on Monday.

"I'm not happy with my performance, but I'm glad we got the win," Henry told CBS after the game.

Alabama (12-1) will advance to the CFP field, though it remains to be seen whether it will hold with the No. 2 seed, where it was ranked earlier this week by the CFP selection committee. Florida (10-3) could land in the Citrus Bowl, perhaps against Michigan.

Five NFL clubs were credentialed to scout the SEC title game. Henry, a junior, is among several Crimson Tide underclassmen that will decide in the coming weeks whether or not to apply for early eligibility into the 2016 NFL Draft. One of the top defenders in college football, UF junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, faces the same decision.

Walker ran for 1,891 yards in 1981, though he did it in just 11 games, as NCAA records of the day did not reflect bowl statistics. Pittsburgh held Walker to 84 yards in the Sugar Bowl that season. Henry required his 13th game to move ahead of the former Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys star, but with Alabama's win, he could get as many as two more games in the playoff to pad the new mark.

Alabama blocked a punt for a safety and blocked a field goal in the first quarter, but fell behind 7-2 when it allowed an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown by UF's Antonio Callaway.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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