‘Bama-Georgia Meet In All-SEC National Championship

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For Alabama, it’s about defense and a multi-pronged offensive attack. For Georgia, it’s about the running game and controlling the line of scrimmage. 


It’s almost like it was scripted. Two local teams–Georgia and Alabama–punched their respective tickets to play in “The Big Peach” for all the marbles. And what makes this game even sweeter is that the 2018 national championship is an all-SEC affair.

In what I think will be back-and-forth and tooth-and-pull, here are three things each team will need to do to experience “Dixieland Delight.”

Alabama’s Keys To Success

‘Bama’s Hurts (photo, The Sporting News)

A great game from Jalen Hurts: At times it is hard to believe that Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is only 19- years-old. Hurts, who plays like a veteran, is the definition of a dual-threat quarterback—a guy who can make you pay with both his arm and legs. The true sophomore completed 16-of-24 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 40 yards in leading the Tide to a 24-6 victory over defending national champion Clemson in the national semi-final. While those may not be eye-popping statistics, it was more than enough when you add-in ‘Bama’s nation-best defense. Still, though, Hurts has the ability to take over a game. I think he’ll need to do that Monday night.

Get the ground game going: The ground game is Georgia’s bread n’ butter. The Bulldogs rushed for 317 yards and five touchdowns in the 54-48 double-overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Alabama’s challenge is to give Georgia a taste of its own medicine. And the Tide has the tools to do just that. Richmond, KY native Damien Harris leads Alabama with 983 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Hurts has added 808 yards and eight scores. Red Zone go-to-man, Bo Scarbrough, has tallied 573 yards and eight touchdowns by running with strength and speed. All three runners are aided by ‘Bama’s ‘elephants’ on the front line who open up holes and enable Hurts’ scrambles. Put simply, Alabama has a multi-dimensional attack.

Mack Wilson’s pick-six against Clemson (photo, Scout.com)

Force turnovers: In last week’s column I predicted that the winner of turnover battle would win the Alabama-Clemson game. I was right. Clinging to a 10-6 lead in the third quarter, the Crimson Tide forced two interceptions deep in Tigers’ territory, including an 18-yard pick-six by Mack Wilson that put the nail in the coffin with 5:27 left. I think Alabama will have to do the same thing this weekend–force turnovers by way of stripping the ball from the Bulldogs’ running backs. If the Crimson Tide can win the turnover battle, then I think ‘Bama will win its 21st national championship. I think it’s as simple as that.

Georgia’s Keys To Success

Jake Fromm against OU (photo, 247Dawgs.com)

Get the two-headed monster in full throng: In seniors Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, the Bulldogs have a mighty one-two punch running game. In the national semi-final, Michel rushed for 181 yards and three touchdowns while Chubb added 145 yards and two scores. Focus on one? Georgia will go to the other. Load up the box? Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm will toss it over the top of the defense. But it all starts with the running game–something that Georgia will have to do early and go to often.

Win the battle in the trenches: Georgia must control the line. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. And doing that won’t be easy. ‘Bama’s defensive line has overwhelming size and is athletic, too, evident by 6-2, 308-pound junior Da’Ron Payne’s interception that enabled the Tide to go up 17-6 in the third quarter against Clemson. If Georgia doesn’t win the battle in the trenches, then the Dawgs could be in for a long night.

UGA’s Nick Chubb (photo, TheDraftster)

A little trickeration never hurt anybody!: Alabama is a fundamentally sound team. If you try to beat the Tide the conventional way, you’ll play right into Saban’s strategy. The best way to beat Alabama is with a little trickeration. That’s why Gus Malzahn and Auburn have given the Tide fits. I think Georgia coach Kirby Smart will need to outwit his former boss and mentor with the element of surprise. In a game of this magnitude, it makes no sense to hold anything back.

 

Prediction

I think this game will become an instant classic. Georgia will control the ground game and, then, a couple of well-timed play-action passes will lift the Bulldogs to a national championship.

Georgia 31, Alabama 28

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About Cameron Brown

Cameron Brown is sports columnist with The Journal-Enterprise, Providence, Kentucky and winner of the Kentucky Press Association “Best Sports Column of the Year” award. Cameron has a passion for basketball–like so many others in his home state of Kentucky. He played basketball for his high school in rural western Kentucky and enjoys other sports, including college football and Major League Baseball. His dream is to have a job in sports.



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