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Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett makes a pass. (Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire)
December 3rd, 2021
The SEC Championship will be decided on Saturday when the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs square off with the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
Fans around Athens have been waiting since 1980 to see their team win the national championship in football, and Georgia fans are now able to see the finish line. Just three games stand between them and the summit, and no matter what happens against Alabama, they are a lock for the College Football Playoff.
However, there is still pressure on them as they seek an unbeaten season, especially since head coach Kirby Smart has failed to defeat Alabama in three attempts. This time, he enters the game with one of the greatest defenses in the history of college football. Defensive linemen Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter lead a defensive unit that ranks first in the nation in passing efficiency defense and total yards allowed, and second in passing yards allowed.
From a leader on the field to the leader of the band, Jordan Davis has done a bit of everything for the Dawgs. pic.twitter.com/uY8WXGRwvN— Georgia Bulldogs (@UGAAthletics) December 1, 2021
From a leader on the field to the leader of the band, Jordan Davis has done a bit of everything for the Dawgs. pic.twitter.com/uY8WXGRwvN
Their 6.9 points allowed per game is the best mark in college football history, and they’ve allowed fewer than half the points of Clemson’s second-lowest total of 180 points. The defensive line disrupts everything their opponents want to do offensively, and gives quarterbacks little time to look downfield, a big reason they have allowed just five passes of over 40 yards all season. They also allow just 79 yards rushing per game, and held Kentucky’s stellar run game to less than two yards per carry.
We haven’t even discussed the offense yet, which has quarterback Stetson Bennett at the helm with a 21:5 touchdown to interception ratio. Bennett has a three-headed monster at running back that rotates constantly and wears down opposing defenses, and a superb receiving corps complimented by tight end Brock Bowers and his 10 touchdown catches. Stud wide receiver George Pickens also returned last week after missing the entire season with an ACL injury, adding yet another weapon to the arsenal.
In most years, the Crimson Tide would be considered a favorite to win the national championship. This year, Nick Saban’s team isn’t even favored to win the conference, as they are underdogs for the first time since the 2015 SEC Championship against... the Georgia Bulldogs.
Alabama has real issues for the first time in a very long time, with an offensive line that has already given up 35 sacks this season and has shown real issues running the football over the past few SEC games. Now, an injury to workhorse back Brian Robinson Jr. last week means Alabama will have to turn to sophomore Trey Sanders, who has just 50 carries this season.
Alabama’s defense ranks eighth in passing efficiency defense and leads the SEC with 43 sacks, but Georgia’s line has allowed just eight this year. The Tide have also given up huge games to big-time receivers this season.
FBS ranks: Sacks and sacks allowedSacks:3. Alabama (43)4. Georgia (41)Sacks allowed:2. Georgia (8)108. Alabama (35) pic.twitter.com/Zt53jnvWyl— UGA Football Live (@UGAfootballLive) December 1, 2021
FBS ranks: Sacks and sacks allowedSacks:3. Alabama (43)4. Georgia (41)Sacks allowed:2. Georgia (8)108. Alabama (35) pic.twitter.com/Zt53jnvWyl
Offensively, quarterback Bryce Young is the current Heisman favorite, but last week in Alabama's comeback win against Auburn, the offense was held to just a field goal until he led them on a 97-yard, 12-play drive in 71 seconds to tie the game. Young completed fewer than half his pass attempts, and wide receiver John Metchie III was the only receiver who could get open consistently. If Young can get Metchie and Jameson Williams involved, he can possibly get some big plays down the field. However, his offensive line allowed Auburn to sack him seven times last week, and the Tigers racked up 11 tackles for loss.
As much as I respect Saban and the Tide, I simply cannot see them keeping this game close without a running game to rely on. Alabama is a very good team, but Georgia might have generational defense. In the past few years, we have seen LSU and Alabama with such teams, and they have simply dominated other good teams come playoff time. This year, Alabama defeated Tennessee and Florida by less than a touchdown each, while Georgia defeated those two teams by a combined score of 71-7.
The talent Georgia has on defense will cause serious problems for Young, and if and when Alabama falls behind, their inability to protect Young will make it extremely difficult to mount any sort of comeback. I don’t know that the Alabama defense will be able to stand up for 60 minutes against a Georgia offense that can hit them from so many directions.
Georgia should cover the number and win this game by more than a touchdown, so lay the points as the Bulldogs pull away late. For those seeking a Same Game Combo, I would pair the Georgia win together with a Brock Bowers touchdown. Alabama has been prone to being hurt by good tight ends this season, and they have allowed a passing score to a tight end in each of their last two SEC games.
Score prediction: Georgia 34, Alabama 20
Our predictive engine is calling for Georgia to win and cover the spread, and for the final score to go Under the projected total.
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