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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 3rd, 2022
The College Football Playoff National Championship Game is set, and it's the matchup most expected as the Georgia Bulldogs get a rematch against the Alabama Crimson Tide. The last time these teams played it ended in a 41-24 Bama blowout in the SEC Championship Game, but Georgia is listed as a 2.5-point favorite this time around.
Let’s look at three reasons why Alabama could pull off another upset and emerge victorious when the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs meet again on Monday, Jan. 10.
It is no secret, but Alabama enjoys the benefit of having the premier player in all of college football. Quarterback Bryce Young is our most recent Heisman Trophy winner, and absolutely decimated the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game.
421 pass yards (SEC Championship Game record)40 rush yards4 total TDBryce Young put on a SHOW. pic.twitter.com/kNmmNZCdE4— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 5, 2021
421 pass yards (SEC Championship Game record)40 rush yards4 total TDBryce Young put on a SHOW. pic.twitter.com/kNmmNZCdE4
In the 41-24 victory, Young was 26-for-44 for 421 yards and three passing touchdowns. He also ran three times for 40 yards and an additional touchdown. For the season, he was third in the nation in passing yards and second in touchdowns behind only the record-setting Bailey Zappe of Western Kentucky.
In the game of football the quarterback position is by far the most important one on the field, and while Young didn’t dominate the action in the semifinal game against Cincinnati, he has already proven he's able to easily pick apart this stout Bulldogs defense.
Great players have a way of playing their best in the biggest moments, and it would come as no surprise if Young once again has an elite performance in the CFP National Championship Game.
Alabama’s defense looked shaky in the first half of the year. It didn’t result in a loss until a fluky result against the Texas A&M Aggies, but the dominant defense we’ve grown accustomed to was missing from Tuscaloosa.
Through that game they were 37th in the country in yards allowed per play at 5.0 yards, a middling and mediocre number historically for this program. Since that time, however, they found a way to turn things around and ended the season allowing just 4.4 yards per play on the year. This amounts to about a 25% improvement over the second half of the season, and perhaps the biggest catalyst was Alabama’s blitzing linebackers and defensive ends.
Christian Harris 💥Will Anderson 💥This @AlabamaFTBL defense 😤 #CFBPlayoff pic.twitter.com/8mhC3yR1pn— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 31, 2021
Christian Harris 💥Will Anderson 💥This @AlabamaFTBL defense 😤 #CFBPlayoff pic.twitter.com/8mhC3yR1pn
Linebacker Will Anderson gets much of the attention, and for good reason. He is a first-round talent and will be a difference maker on Sundays once he makes it to the NFL. He has 17.5 sacks on the year.
Freshman linebacker Dallas Turner has also emerged in the second half of the year, and his 6.5 sacks are third on the team. Alabama needed to reload a lot of defensive talent from their 2020 roster, and perhaps it just took some game reps for young players like Turner to round into form.
Now that they are hitting their stride, this formidable Bama defense is much closer to being on the same level as the Georgia defense that has stood head and shoulders above all others throughout the 2021 season.
Nick Saban is 25-1 against former assistant coaches, an impressive record that speaks to the dominance he’s had over those who learned while serving under him.
Kirby Smart served as Nick Saban’s assistant at Bama from 2007-2015. The two face off again in a rematch of the 2017 #CFBPlayoff title game 🍿 pic.twitter.com/t9Fjix0Wec— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 1, 2022
Kirby Smart served as Nick Saban’s assistant at Bama from 2007-2015. The two face off again in a rematch of the 2017 #CFBPlayoff title game 🍿 pic.twitter.com/t9Fjix0Wec
Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart is 0-4 against his former mentor, and it does beg the question of what exactly it is that causes his former coaches to struggle against the legend. For some of the matchups, inferior talent has been the obvious culprit, but Georgia has been stockpiling talent under Smart at a comparable pace to the dominating Tide, so that isn’t it when it comes to these two facing off.
Whatever the reason, the result has mostly been the same and that is hard to ignore.
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