HERE we go. In a few short days, the last game of the college football season will be played in an all-SEC title match. Nick Saban will be looking to add to his dynasty and win his sixth national championship as his former assistant Kirby Smart stands in his way, trying to break Georgia’s 38-year championship drought with a win of his own.
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Recipe For Success: Alabama
FOR Bama to win their second national championship in the College Football Playoff era the recipe is quite simple. Do more of the same. They throttled Clemson in the Sugar Bowl thanks to their dominant front seven which Saban is famous for installing at the Crimson Tide. They made life miserable for Tigers QB Kelly Bryant and will look to do the same against true freshman Jake Fromm.
THEIR frightening run defense will look to contain a Georgia backfield that ran amok (for 317 yards to be exact) against Oklahoma on New Year’s Day. I think that Jalen Hurts and his offensive peers can play much better than they did against Clemson too after registering a season-low 261 yards. An offense that isn’t used to turning the ball over will likely look to continue their trend and put points on the board in a hurry in what should be a low socring affair in Atlanta.
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Recipe For Success: Georgia
ALL the talk heading into this matchup from a Georgia perspective is how they will run the ball. If the Bulldogs are to win their first national title since 1980 then they will need to be at their dominant best running the ball. Last weekend against OU there were times when they turned to Jake Fromm instead of running the ball despite Michel and Chubb averaging 13 yards a carry. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
GEORGIA’S kicker Rodrigo Blankenship will play a key role as well, just like he did in the Rose Bowl. If Blankenship can bury a few long kicks that may help bail his team out should they struggle to push their way into the end zone on offensive drives. On defense they will again need to suffocate the run and keep mobile QB Jalen Hurts inside the pocket. Of course, if they do that they then need to make sure that his main weapon Calvin Ridley is covered to avoid giving up big plays.
The Master vs. The Apprentice
NICK Saban usually has his way with his former assistants, posting a lifetime 11-0 record in games when they go head-to-head. However, many think that this is the match that could ultimately see Saban handed his first loss as his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has taken his new program to great heights in his first season at the helm.
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PART of the reason the College Football Playoff was implemented was to stop another battle between conference rivals for the nations ultimate prize after the 2012 title decider between Auburn and LSU. Yet here we are. While the conference as a whole might not be dominant all the way through there is no debating that the creme of the crop is among the best in the nation with both teams deserving a shot to win it all.
A New Rivalry
AS it stands right now, regardless of the result on Monday, Kirby Smart will get at least one win over his former program. Currently Smart has the No. 1 recruiting class in the class of 2018, meaning if that holds up after February’s signing day it would break Alabama’s record of seven consecutive No. 1 recruiting classes. That also means that these two teams might be very good for a much longer period of time, paving the way for an epic new rivalry.
Prediction – Alabama 24, Georgia 20
PERSONALLY, I think the biggest factor in this game will be the play of Jake Fromm. The Georgia play-caller was called upon more than usual late against Oklahoma and it may turn out to be beneficial. If the Bulldogs run game is halted by Alabama then Fromm will need to be the one to help them move the chains as points will be hard to come by in this smashmouth-style contest.
IF at the start of the season you asked someone to choose either Alabama or every other collegiate team to win it all then the answer probably would have been 50-50. At the start of the CFB then it probably would have gone 85-15 in favour of the field. Once again a dominant performance by Nick Saban’s men reminded us all that they are the top dogs until told otherwise.
AS much as I want to pick the underdog (pun intended) and side with Georgia, I’m staying vanilla and choosing the Crimson Tide to win the school’s 17th national title. In a battle that will depend heavily on how the coaches react to issues they face, I think it’s almost too much too soon for Kirby Smart. This could be the beginning of a great new rivalry and I have no doubt that one day Nick Saban will actually lose to a member of his coaching tree. That day won’t come on Monday though.
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