Here’s your official prediction thread after much agonizing. You’ve got three hours to unleash any final pathos, predictions, whodunnits, who wins, and why.
Even better, is you share this post on Twitter and/or Facebook, we’re randomly selecting one winner to take home tonight’s CFP 2018 prize: An Alabama-embossed College Football Playoff game ball. All you have to do is share and tag @wilson_football.
Here we go:
Brad Kanning: Dynasty ain’t dead and nor has one started Monday. As I said on the RBR podcast, I’ve noticed Swift and Nata have had no real roles that last five games, but that changes Monday night. Ugly game over all but Bama pulls away late to win 17-13.*
*I’m also convinced Bama wins by 17 points too.
Balloons: Let’s combine semi-science with not-science! Bill Connelly’s S&P+ (the basis for the Graphing the Tide series) has it at Alabama 26.8, Georgia 24.6... let’s call that a 27-24 Alabama win (and, interestingly, the over on total points, estimated at 45).
I think S&P+, which does not account for injuries, is undervaluing a healthier Alabama defense, so let’s take away a touchdown for the Dawgs and add 3 points for the Tide. Roll Tide! However, S&P+ also dropped the Dawg’s defensive ranking by a few slots after they played a lights-out Oklahoma offense—a statistical gut-punch that Alabama hasn’t (and won’t) have to take this season—so they’re likely also a bit undervalued. Let’s remove 3 points from the Tide and give Georgia 3 for that one. Finally, with RG Lester Cotton out, we’ve got to assume a little more friction for that all-important Alabama offensive line: remove 3 more points off the top for Alabama.
Good news: Alabama still wins, 24-20, and you can barely take the under on points. I hope I’m wrong and it’s a Tide blowout, but I don’t see why it would be unless the Alabama defense is still extremely undervalued by S&P+.
CB: This is not an original thought but I think it is important to repeat here: Alabama plays better against a non-running QB. And they don’t get much more non-running than Jake Fromm who has 94 yards on 48 attempts for the season. The UGA offensive strength lies in the running game and big long game-breaking TDs. But it is a rare occasion when the Crimson Tide defense gives up a long run or pass, even less so for a score. Only once has Bama given up a score of longer than 20 yards and that came in the form of a garbage time TD reception by Fresno for 26 yds. Alabama special teams have been remarkably solid this season (kudos to Joe Pannunzio). The hawt taeks are that there are familiarities between these two coaching staffs. However, it is naive to think that Nick Saban does the same things in 2017-18 that he did two seasons ago when Kirby Smart et al were still in Tuscaloosa. ALABAMA 24 Georgia 16.
Brent: Good guys, 35-24!
Josh: I have been high on Georgia all season, ever since I watched them dismantle Mississippi State early in the season. They are a worthy opponent that is capable of pulling the upset if a couple of things go their way. This Alabama team, and QB Jalen Hurts in particular, has been criticized at times for playing too risk-averse, but the results have generally been positive. The Bulldogs aren’t going anywhere considering the way Smart and company have recruited, but they just aren’t quite at Alabama’s level yet on either line of scrimmage, as evidenced by film study and advanced metrics. The Tide will have more success in the run game, Hurts will make a few plays without turning the ball over, and Scott will keep the field position in Alabama’s favor. Look for something like the Clemson score, with perhaps a few more offensive points on each side. Let’s call it Alabama, 27-16.
Erik: Georgia was played to a standstill by Notre Dame and South Carolina. It was absolutely waylaid by Auburn. This defense is leaps and bounds better than the Irish and ‘Cocks, and better than the Tigers’ when healthy and will limit the homeruns that UGA has relied upon to protect Jake Fromm. On offense, Alabama can have success early in the snap count and either drive for scores or get enough first downs to make life miserable for the ‘Dawgs. Superior depth, superior coaching, and good old fashioned experience matter here. Kirby’s ‘Dawgs are a solid team, a top 10 team, but they don’t have enough of any of those three quantities to overcome an underclass offensive line trying to protect a freshman quarterback against a team that has been on a mission most of the season. It’s a better, more consistent offense than Clemson, to be sure. But, it’s still a limited offense, and it’s not a better defense than ones the Tide have already beaten...and that’s not going to be enough against Alabama tonight. 31-17 Alabama.
EDITORIAL CONSENSUS: ALABAMA 26 GEORGIA 18