Three and out from Atlanta: Scott Rabalais’ thoughts after Alabama’s win over Florida in the SEC Championship Game _lowres

Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks to players against Florida during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

1. What we learned

Alabama is probably the best team in the country. In this age of spread-’em-out, fast-break offenses, the Crimson Tide isn’t the flashiest by far. But no one is better at imposing its will on the other team. Alabama does basic things and does them very well. It runs behind a huge and talented offensive line with authority, and it plays exceptional, physical defense. Bama even was dominant on special teams against Florida, blocking a punt for a safety and a field goal to keep the Gators off the scoreboard early. Alabama made a strong case to be the No. 1 seed when the College Football Playoff parings are announced Sunday.

2. Trending now: Derrick Henry The Alabama tailback started slow but, as expected, he gradually wore down a stubborn Florida defense that was on the field a whopping 43 minutes, 29 seconds. Much of that time was spent trying to bring the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Henry to the ground. He ended up with 44 carries for 189 yards and a touchdown, earned title-game MVP honors, broke the SEC single-season rushing record held by none other than Herschel Walker and further cemented his standing as the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. (Voting ends Monday.) Henry has toted the ball a combined 90 times in the past two games for 460 yards. He has until Dec. 31 to rest.

3. Final thoughts Alabama’s victory seemed a foregone conclusion, and the fact that it won going away was hardly a surprise. The SEC superpower should head to the College Football Playoff as the favorite. As for Florida, the Gators put up a spirited if mostly one-handed effort against Alabama, lacking virtually any offensive punch against a great defense to finish with 180 total yards. The Gators were a surprise to be here considering this was Year One under coach Jim McElwain. A larger issue is the competitive imbalance between the SEC East and West, the latter having won seven straight championship games.