TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference’s two stingiest defenses will take the field in the league championship game.

That’s no coincidence.

No. 1 Alabama has kept its end zone off-limits for more than a month and been practically impenetrable to running backs. No. 15 Florida has only given up a few more points per game and flummoxed opposing quarterbacks.

With defenses like that, it doesn’t matter so much that neither team so far has a 1,000-yard rusher and their passing games have been statistically middle-of-the-pack. Both defenses feature highly rated NFL prospects like the Tide’s Jonathan Allen and the Gators’ Jalen Tabor.

“It’s kind of like a minor league NFL game,” Florida quarterback Austin Appleby said. “There’s going to be first-rounders and NFL players all over the field. This is what it’s all about in the SEC.”

The Tide hasn’t allowed a touchdown in 13-plus quarters, dating all the way back to October 22 against Texas A&M.

A star-studded group led by defensive end Allen, linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick leads the nation in limiting scoring (11.4 points per game), rushing (68.7 yards) and total defense (246.8 yards). Alabama’s numbers in all three categories are significantly better than last season’s national championship team.

It’s certainly the most opportunistic defense nationally, having allowed 12 touchdowns and scored nine .

“I feel like we’re the best, but we have to go out there and prove it every week,” Allen said. “We have the mentality we have to go out there and suffocate and dominate the offense we go against.”

It’s worked well so far.

Allen and Foster are two of five finalists for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy given to the nation’s top defensive player. Allen has even drawn some buzz as a Heisman Trophy contender with two

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