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Jumbo Package: Pundits give the Tide little chance vs Georgia

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. If you haven’t heard, there is a football game going on in Atlanta tomorrow. Your previews:

The running game won’t take over, but it’ll be effective enough to take the pressure off of Bennett. The defense will start to stuff everything the Alabama ground game tries to do, it’ll hold firm on a deep Tide drive, and everything will slowly turn before a turnover leads to a late lead.

Young will march the Tide down the field with one last shot to pull it off, but his fourth down pass in the final moments will be broken up in the end zone to give Georgia the national – uh, er, sorry – SEC championship.

Georgia 27, Alabama 23

“I think Georgia wins the game,” Coughlin said. “I’ll take the points. I’m going to buy it to seven (points). I just like the capability of Alabama’s offense against that Georgia defense. Listen, Georgia’s going to win the majority of the time, but I think they have the goods to keep it close. I think they’re going to put pressure on Georgia’s corners that they haven’t even come close to seeing all year. And they’ll set that stuff up by starting off with some quick game. They’ll have (Alabama wide receiver) Jameson (Williams) back after the first-half targeting call (against Auburn). ... I do think (Alabama quarterback) Bryce Young is that good, and I think Alabama’s defense will bring something to the table and show up and keep Georgia at bay.”

Picking against the Crimson Tide in a championship setting against the spread is a dangerous decision, but I’m doing it anyway. I lost real money on Alabama covering 19.5 pints last weekend during its four-overtime win at Auburn, despite knowing the Crimson Tide had issues up front. What I didn’t expect was the targeting loss of Jameson Williams and the ensuing effect it would have on the offense. Georgia’s defense is the best I’ve seen during my years covering college football and the Bulldogs are three wins away from a title. This matchup with Nick Saban finally goes to Kirby Smart. ... Georgia 27, Alabama 20.

There is psychology at work here. Georgia has not beat Alabama on this stage with Smart, and if Alabama jumps out to a first-quarter lead with its big-play offense then it could get real. Georgia, however, will stick with its game plan. Bennett threw three picks in last year’s loss, but he learns from those mistakes and relies on that ground game. Georgia hangs on in the fourth quarter this time despite a last-ditch rally from Young. If Alabama has the ball last and Georgia needs a stop to win, then who do you choose? We’ll find out Saturday.

Final score: Georgia 27, Alabama 22

Simply put, this is a matchup nightmare for the Crimson Tide. The offensive line has been unable to run block on a consistent basis all year, and last week against Auburn was its worst performance of the season. Now it is suddenly going to get right against Jordan Davis and the Bulldogs’ front seven? Nope. No chance. Georgia will keep Alabama in check all afternoon, which will allow Bennett and the rest of that offense the ability to dictate the style and tempo of the matchup. The Bulldogs will win by double digits. Prediction: Georgia (-6.5)

Alabama can’t ruin UGA’s national title hopes this time. The Bulldogs are shoo-ins for the College Football Playoff even if they lose. A Crimson Tide victory would puncture the feeling of inevitability that’s surrounded the Bulldogs for weeks while also setting up a potential CFP rematch. But Bama is too worn down to do it. Bulldogs cover.

That last one is from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We’ve analyzed this game six ways to Sunday. Absent something crazy happening in the turnover battle, Alabama has one clear path to victory: Have success in the passing game, shut down the run, and force Stetson Bennett into something of a shootout. It is certainly plausible that Alabama can pull it off, though it would require everyone’s best game.

Will it happen?

I’d love to go against the grain here, but I don’t find it likely. I’m a sucker for consistency, and this Georgia team has played consistently all season. Meanwhile, Alabama can really only claim complete game performances against Mississippi State and Ole Miss, and even the latter is a bit of a stretch.

Yes, Alabama will have the best defense Georgia has seen since week one and the best passing attack they have seen all season, but Georgia’s #1 ranked defense will obviously be the best Alabama has seen by far, and the Georgia offense has enough weapons to move the football.

Anything can happen, but this feels like the Dawgs’ year. I’ll go with Georgia 30, Alabama 20 and very much hope to be proven wrong.

Of course, that is merely my opinion. Vote and give us yours in the comments.

Poll

What will be the result of the SEC Championship?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Georgia covers, wins by 7+
    (474 votes)
  • 12%
    Instant Classic, Georgia by 1-6
    (203 votes)
  • 58%
    Alabama pulls the upset
    (949 votes)
1626 votes total Vote Now

Alabama is not accustomed to being the underdog.

“As far as me, I don’t really look at it as an underdog,” safety Jordan Battle said. ”I feel like it’s just another game. Obviously, Georgia is No. 1. Obviously, they are a great team. They have a great defense. Have a great offense. I feel like, in this game, we just have to make them one-dimensional, like our plan going into every other game.

As usual, Saban has the kids thinking the right way. Point spreads and the like are just outside noise. They have to play 60 great minutes of football to come out on top. No more, no less.

— “It’s always been our trademark here to play physical ... You have to have a certain kind of player to do that. We have some,” Saban said.

— Saban said in the old days when they ran the smashmouth offense, it helped develop a physical defense in practice. That changed when the offense evolved.

— Georgia QB Stetson Bennett is both athletic and smart. It’s a pro-style offense that requires a lot of adjustment for the defense. “He can beat you with your feet if you don’t pay attention.”

This is an interesting point on the defense that we have discussed quite a bit. The RPO game is very effective when well executed, but the offense never really learns to road grade and the defense doesn’t learn to play against road grading. Perhaps playoff appearances from Georgia and Michigan will bring old school power offenses back en vogue, but it’s far more likely that this just happens to be a year without many great college QBs.

Last, Diggs did it again.

He’s a bad man.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.