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Tonight’s the night that the NCAA National Champion is decided in football as number four Alabama takes on number three Georgia. This match-up of SEC rivals takes place in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia in front of what should be a packed house of fans from both teams.
Alabama got to this game by defeating the Clemson Tigers 24-6 in the Sugar Bowl. Clemson, of course, beat Alabama in the National Championship game last season scoring 35 points in the victory. For Alabama to allow just six to that same team a year later is a real sign that the defense is looking strong coming into this game.
Georgia earned their spot by defeating Oklahoma in one of the craziest Rose Bowl games we’ve seen in a long time, 54-48. This game went to double overtime and really showed the diversity of the Georgia offense. They can pound the ball on the ground all game long, but when Jake Fromm starts slinging the ball they become a really dangerous team.
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Both of these teams are known of their scary front seven. While the defensive line of Alabama’s dominance showed up in the box score last time out with only six points for the Clemson offense, the Georgia defense is just as scary. They had a season high five sacks in that win and kept pressure on Baker Mayfield all day long. If they can do the same here against Jalen Hurts, that could be trouble. Of course, the same can be said for Alabama’s defense as well. As good as Fromm has been this year, he is still a freshman playing a defense full of NFL hopefuls.
The other strength of both of these teams is the running game. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel make up the most devastating 1-2 punch in the country for Georgia. The team averaged 267.4 rushing yards per game this season, with both logging 1,000-yard seasons. They got against a defense that has allowed just 91 yards per game on the ground this year. Something’s got to give in this one.
Alabama is not that far behind them in that category either with 255 yards per game. Damien Harris led the team, but it was quarterback Jalen Hurts who was right behind him. His ability to get away from this rushing defense and gain yards could very well be the key to the game.
We saw last season how difficult the national championship game can be for a freshman quarterback as Hurts had a rough game. We like Jake Fromm a lot and Alabama considers him “the one that got away”, but this is still a huge game for him. If Alabama can shut down that run game (which they should), that is a lot of weight on his shoulders.
Hurts spent most of the past year thinking about that game and waiting for this opportunity. Throw in the more experienced coach in Nick Saban and that vaunted Alabama defense and it’s hard not to go with the Crimson Tide here. Alabama -3.5 should raise yet another championship banner here tonight.