Bama vs Georgia for More Than the SEC Title
Last week in the Southeastern Conference the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs each hosted games with a fierce rival that it was heavily favored against. Both Alabama and Georgia already knew that they would be meeting each other in the SEC Title game the following Saturday with a BCS shot on the line too so the test would be to see if either team were perhaps looking ahead.
I think we can we fairly say that both the Tide and the Bulldogs were focused on their respective tasks at hand. They outscored opponents Auburn and Georgia Tech by a combined score of 91-10 with Bama pitching a shutout against the Tigers. It’s what you would expect from two teams with storied programs and more importantly, veteran coaches. Without further delay, let’s breakdown the game.
SEC Championship Game, Atlanta , Georgia
#3 Georgia vs. #2 Alabama (-7.5)
One of the really interesting items about this game is how similar the teams are statistically with only a few glaring exceptions. Bama and Georgia are averaging 39 and 38 points per game respectively and the Tide averages about 430 yards per game while the Dawgs are about 460 per game. The passing and rushing numbers are within about 30 to 40 yards of each other so there is no real clear-cut stat to hang your hat on offensively.
Defensively it’s a bit of a different story. Georgia gives up almost 100 yards more per game in total defense than does Alabama. The Tide also have an advantage in scoring defense as they give up an average of 9.3 points per game compared with 17.7 per game by the Bulldogs. The Crimson Tide also have more takeaways and more sacks than do the Bulldogs. The argument of course is the improvement that Georgia has shown defensively over their last five ballgames. The Dawgs have given up a little less than nine points per game over that stretch. Conversely, Bama has given up about 10 points per contest over their last five games which includes their loss to Texas A&M and two shutouts.
It’s awfully hard not to lean Alabama’s way after breaking down some of those numbers but Georgia isn’t exactly going to run away and hide. QB Aaron Murray has loads of experience and is playing as well as any QB in the nation not named Johnny ‘Football.’ One of the ways that UGA will cause fits for the Alabama defense is with big plays. Georgia leads the SEC in ‘splash’ pays this season and will need a few in order to beat Bama. Freshman running back Todd Gurley could be a part of those big plays as he has totaled 14 touchdowns on the year.
A.J. McCarron has to know how close he is to a place in history. Very few quarterbacks have led their schools to back-to-back national titles and he is but two wins from accomplishing that goal. His fate will rest in the hands of college football’s best offensive line who will be challenged by an athletic Bulldogs’ defense. With Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon carrying the load, if the Bama rushing attack can get going then McCarron will be set up for play-action where he thrives.
Random Facts – In their last 10 meetings, the two teams are 5-5 with Alabama winning most recently at Georgia in 2008… This will mark the first time Alabama is playing in the SEC Title game against someone not named Florida… Mark Richt has two SEC Championships while Nick Saban has three with two different teams.
The Pick – I desperately want to pick Georgia to win this game. History really isn’t on the side of Nick Saban and the Tide either. The problem is that I’m just not sure you can bet against Saban and his staff in these games and I can’t get the thought of Georgia’s 35-7 loss to South Carolina out of my mind either. I’m taking the Tide to win, but I do like Georgia to keep it within the spread in a classic SEC Championship.