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Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire)
January 8th, 2022
For the second time in four years, Alabama and Georgia will square off in the CFP National Championship. It’s also the second meeting in three games between the SEC powerhouse programs.
Georgia is narrowly favored.
The 2018 National Championship proved to be a dandy, as Alabama rallied from a double-digit deficit to win in overtime, but December’s SEC Championship game lacked the same competitiveness. Alabama embarrassed Georgia’s top-ranked defense last month, routing the Bulldogs by a 41-24 margin, and Nick Saban improved to 4-0 against former assistant Kirby Smart.
On the biggest stages, @AlabamaFTBL has gotten the best of Georgia. The Crimson Tide is 4-0 against the Bulldogs in the postseason: • 2021 SEC Championship • 2018 SEC Championship • 2018 CFP National Championship • 2012 SEC Championship pic.twitter.com/CWb3m72esz— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 1, 2022
On the biggest stages, @AlabamaFTBL has gotten the best of Georgia. The Crimson Tide is 4-0 against the Bulldogs in the postseason: • 2021 SEC Championship • 2018 SEC Championship • 2018 CFP National Championship • 2012 SEC Championship pic.twitter.com/CWb3m72esz
After buckling in the SEC Championship, Georgia’s defense rebounded with a dominant performance over Michigan in the CFP Semifinals. The Wolverines were completely stifled for the first three quarters, incapable of sustaining drives against Georgia’s speed, size, and athleticism.
Alabama kept Cincinnati in check throughout the other CFP semifinal, rushing for 301 yards as the Tide rolled 27-6. The offense averages 41.1 points per game behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young.
A seven-time national champion, Saban has had Smart’s number. He outcoached his protégé in the SEC Championship, keeping a vaunted defense off balance (536 total yards for Alabama) and forcing Georgia’s offense to play behind the chains (only 3-of-12 on third-down conversions).
Alabama contained Georgia’s pass rush, as Young threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns, and he gives them a big edge at quarterback in the National Championship.
A 44-YARD TOUCHDOWN DIME FROM BRYCE YOUNG 🎯 pic.twitter.com/QQAEnF0898— ESPN (@espn) December 31, 2021
A 44-YARD TOUCHDOWN DIME FROM BRYCE YOUNG 🎯 pic.twitter.com/QQAEnF0898
Nagurski winner Will Anderson Jr. is a force defensively, leading the nation in sacks (17.5) and tackles for a loss (34.5).
Brian Robinson exits a career-best effort (204 rushing yards), and Ja’Corey Brooks – who now starts alongside the prolific Jameson Williams at receiver – performed well against Cincinnati (66 receiving yards and a touchdown).
Georgia held opponents to only 9.5 points per game and didn’t allow more than one touchdown in any game except the SEC Championship, surrendering four to Alabama’s offense. The Bulldogs led 10-0 early in the second quarter before being overrun.
They were outcoached and overconfident. Georgia thought they could line up and dominate Alabama’s offensive line, which surrendered seven sacks to Auburn in the regular season finale, but the Tide made adjustments.
Alabama, which led by seven at halftime of the SEC Championship, came out of the locker room better prepared for the third quarter, forcing a pair of turnovers (including a Pick Six) and a stoppage on downs from Georgia’s first three possessions.
Beating a good team twice in a short period of time is a difficult proposition. And this is not an enviable spot for Alabama, which won’t be at full strength without leading receiver John Metchie III, who recorded six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown before sustaining a season-ending injury in the first half of the SEC Championship.
The Tide didn’t need Metchie against Cincinnati, but Georgia’s defense is at a different level, holding Michigan to 91 rushing yards.
Look for Georgia to make the necessary adjustments this time around. The Bulldogs typically start fast, having built a double-digit lead in the first half of every game this year, and Alabama won’t be able to match their intensity.
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