Not since 2011 have two school from the same conference met for the National Title game. The 2018 title game is eerily similar to 2011. In 2011 the SEC champion LSU faced off against an Alabama team that did not appear in the SEC title game. In 2018 Georgia won the SEC and now faces an Alabama team that did not appear in the title game. In both 2011 and 2018 Alabama reached the title game with controversy. 2011 featured a one loss Oklahoma State and a one loss Stanford team that had arguments to play in the BCS Title game, the BCS however choose a rematch instead of including a conference champion (Oklahoma State). 2018 playoff committee selected a one loss Alabama team without a conference championship over a two loss Ohio State who won the Big 12. The 2011 Cowboys did however have a bad loss to an unranked Iowa State team and the 2018 Buckeyes had an extremely bad loss to an unranked Iowa team that swayed the selection committee.
This year’s National title game features Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide versus Former protégée Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs. Smart spend eight years on Saban’s staff at Alabama (the past seven as the defensive coordinator) winning three National title together. Both programs are built very similar; run the ball, control the clock and play physical defense. It is a Classic example of unstoppable force versus immoveable object. Winning the National Championship will come down to the following questions:
Can Jalen Hurts throw the ball downfield?
The switch from Lane Kiffin’s spread attack to Brain Dabolls pro-style attack was set to enable Hurts to develop more as a passer. The opposite has happened so far as Alabama doubled down on running the ball finishing 10th in the nation in rushing offense while hurts only through 246 times during the season. Against Florida State hurts completed 10 passes, 11 against LSU and 13 in a loss against Auburn. Georgia is going to attempt to take away Hurts favorite target Calvin Ridley (56 catches; nearly 1/5 of Hurt’s total completions). Hurts is going to have to find another receiver on passing downs to have an effective passing game. In 2011 against LSU Alabama started the game off by throwing the football. It is safe to say that Alabama will start the game on Monday night by throwing to build a lead then run the clock out with the powerful running game.
How effective will Georgia’s running game be?
Georgia’s bread and butter has been the running game all season long. Running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel each went over 1100 yards rushing with freshman D’Andre Swift chipping in over 600 yards. In the Rose bowl, the Bulldogs rushed for over 300 yards, averaging over nine yards per carry. Those stats were gained against the #3 team in the country in the College Football Playoff. Alabama has been a little more stout against the run during the year accumulating the #1 rushing defense and the nations #1 defense in total defense. opponents averaged 2.7 yards per carry against the Tide’s defense. With Alabama’s defense getting healthy can Georgia put dents into the vaunted Tide’s run defense?
Will Georgia make big plays on offense?
For a run first offense Georgia has made a living on big plays this season. The Bulldogs are 27th in the country in plays gaining 10 plus yards, 8th in plays gaining 20 plus yards and 9th in plays gaining 30 plus yards. During the Playoff Semi-Final Georgia had big play after big play in the second half including Sony Michel’s game winning in overtime. Alabama on the other hand has limited opponents big plays; Alabama’s defense is 3rd in the country in allowing plays of 10+ yards and #1 in limiting big plays of 20 and 30 plus yards.
Can Alabama win the turnover battle?
Alabama is 5th in the country in turnover margin of +13. Often times those turnovers turn into points and become backbreakers. In the Clemson game Alabama forced two turnovers in back to back possessions creating 14 points icing the game. Freshman Quarterback Jake Fromm of Georgia has an uphill battle against an Alabama secondary that has 17 interceptions during the season that includes the Jim Thorpe award winner Minkah Fitzpatrick. offensively the Tide do not turn the ball over. Alabama has nine total turnovers on the season. Georgia was only +5 in turnover margin for the season.
Alabama’s recipe for success has been simple: play outstanding defense, keep possession of the football and only ask the quarterback to do just enough to win games. Many coaches from the Saban’s coaching tree have tried to emulate this formula and have not been successful against Saban. In the battle between teacher and padawan the teacher wins.
Alabama 17 Georgia 3
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