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Jumbo Package: Why Alabama is still an underdog to Georgia

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Alabama Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. Much is being made of Alabama’s underdog status on Monday.

Metchie isn’t the only injury Alabama is dealing with. The Crimson Tide are currently dealing with injuries to starting offensive linemen Emil Ekiyor Jr. and Chris Owens. A key reason for Alabama’s success in December was the performance of the offensive line. They did not allow Bryce Young to be sacked. The status for both players is unclear as we approach gameday, but Georgia’s defense can certainly take advantage of any weak links on the line.

On the Georgia side, it has to be feeling good about its performance against Michigan in the semifinal. Georgia was absolutely dominant, but the most important takeaway from that game has to be the performance of quarterback Stetson Bennett.

Dial remembers using some “yummy rat poison” in 2009. Players heard, repeatedly, about how Tim Tebow’s Florida had “the greatest offense to ever set foot on a college football field.” They heard it, and convinced themselves it wasn’t true.

“We kinda looked at it as a joke,” Dial said. “Like, ‘we can’t wait to go out there and kick their ass.’”

Alabama’s offensive line likely found similar motivation last month after hearing from all fronts just how unblockable Georgia is. Hopefully still being an underdog despite a 17 point victory in Atlanta will provide some additional fuel.

A mattress mogul has bet big on the Tide as a hedge against a promotion.

Mattress Mack said Georgia (-3) being listed as an early favorite got his attention and created a promotion at his stores tied to Alabama.

“We’ve done a lot of these promotions in the past and with a game with this much attention, wanted to be a part of it,” McIngvale told ESPN. “[I] was surprised to see Alabama as a 3-point underdog. They have good name recognition and brand awareness for fans, so this comes with a good, high perceived value. Anyone who buys a mattress before the game gets their money back if Alabama wins.”

This is nice, because a lot of those mattresses won’t be returnable if that happens, at least in Alabama.

Mack bet his $1.2 million on the money line, meaning that he picked Alabama to win straight up. His payout will be $1.5 million if Alabama wins, meaning that he eschewed a three point cushion for a 25% greater potential payout.

At least one SEC coordinator is very impressed by Jameson Williams.

“It all depends on what Alabama offense shows up,” an SEC coach said. “Is it the one that played against Auburn, or the one that played against Georgia the last time? It appears the quarterback’s getting more and more comfortable, and they’ve got a talented running back.”

A greater emphasis on the run game, behind an improving offensive line, also could make sense with Metchie out. But Williams, who had 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the SEC title game, will remain the focal point for Young and Alabama’s offense.

“He’s the best one in all of college football, and I don’t know that it’s close,” an SEC coordinator said. “He’s [incredibly] fast. He’s that good. He’s special.”

It’s still incredible to think that Williams left Ohio State because he wasn’t likely to start. Most every mock draft has him going ahead of the guys who started over him.

Alabama players think that the losing streak to Alabama hanging over Georgia’s head won’t be much of a factor.

“They come to play their best game, and we do, too,” Mathis said. “So I really don’t think about all the past stuff. I’m just real about what’s in front of us now. I can’t really speak on the past things we’ve done against those guys. It’s the new year, new team that we’re playing.”

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams had seven catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns in the SEC championship game win over a Georgia team that had given up just seven touchdowns total on defense in its 12 regular-season games.

“... I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on both teams,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of pressure on those guys to get the ‘W.’ There’s a lot of pressure on us to beat a team two times.”

That may be the case, but there is one fella in a visor who is keenly aware of it, coachspeak or not. And yes, that fella copied Alabama.

Shortly after Shane Beamer was hired to join Smart’s staff at Georgia in 2016, he noticed something familiar about the way his new boss was structuring his program.

“We literally implemented everything Alabama did, from the weekly schedule with the coaches to the practice schedule to the weight room program to whatever,” said Beamer, now South Carolina’s head coach. “It was identical. He didn’t have to say, ‘This is what Alabama did.’ You knew it. A lot of stuff we used even had the Alabama logo on it and was copy and pasted with the Georgia logo on it.”

For the Bulldogs, imitating Alabama was not only the sincerest form of flattery, it was the most efficient way to try to close the gap on the greatest dynasty in the sport’s modern era.

Lest any Georgia fan try to argue this point again, there’s your proof.

Dan Wetzel notes that Georgia has run out of excuses.

The title drought is almost inexplicable. Georgia has, and has had, everything it needed to win multiple titles. It just hasn’t.

Worse for Bulldog fans is that while their team wasn’t winning it, nearly everyone around them has been. Instate or border-state rivals — the kinds of teams neighbors, coworkers or cousins root for — have dominated the sport.

Alabama (7 national titles), Clemson (3), Florida (3), Florida State (3), Auburn (1), Tennessee (1) and even Georgia Tech (1) have all won it all.

That Georgia Tech bit has to sting. Speaking of Georgia Tech, recent transfer Jahmyr Gibbs has turned some heads.

Pete Golding describes what makes Will Anderson so tough to block.

“I’m talking about when you go to strike a block and they’re coming off the ball and I go to use my hands — five points of contact to strike him and knock him back,” he explained. “He’s so explosive from his legs, from his hips, to his hands, to be able to create separation and then disengage and get off of guys and go make plays.

“What I mean by that, he strikes and gets that head going back, and then he separates and he can go make the play.”

We are very glad that he is ours.

Last, the AJC is especially homerific right now.

Jeff Sentell: Three combined touchdowns from George Pickens and Brock Bowers

The why: You need your best players to make plays in the red zone in this game. Alabama will try and limit what these two talented pass catchers can do, but the ability of Bowers and Pickens will prevail for the Bulldogs.

Connor Riley: Nolan Smith gets 2.0 sacks

The why: This fits as bold seeing as how Georgia didn’t sack Bryce Young once this season and the junior outside linebacker has 2.5 sacks this season. But Smith has been at his best in Georgia’s biggest wins this season against Florida and Michigan. Smith made his feelings on this game clear and perhaps he’ll have some tears of joy after this performance.

What is the biggest “weakness” of Alabama’s football team that UGA must exploit up in Indianapolis?

Brandon Adams: The lack of running game

Why: “The Crimson Tide obviously found quite a rushing attack in its Playoff win vs. Cincinnati – collecting 301 yards on the ground. However, Alabama was only 10th in the SEC in rushing yards per game this season. If UGA can take away the running game, it will make containing Bryce Young and Jameson Williams a lot easier.”

Call me silly, but if Alabama made this game and Bryce Young won himself a Heisman despite that 10th ranked running game, maybe that isn’t much of a key here. It amazes me that a major news outlet sponsors this brand of homerism. You certainly see nothing like it in Alabama media.

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

Roll Tide.