Technically speaking, No. 2 Georgia is ranked ahead of No. 3 Alabama heading into the National Championship Game on Monday night. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the better team, however.
The Crimson Tide does a lot of things well — some better than the Bulldogs. Here are 5 of those things.
1. Protect the football
As limiting as Jalen Hurts’ style of play can be, the fact that he doesn’t commit many costly turnovers is a huge plus for Alabama.
He isn’t alone, either.
Alabama is tied at No. 5 in nation in turnover margin (plus-13). They’ve only lost seven fumbles and two interceptions (one from Hurts, on from backup Tua Tagovailoa) all season.
Georgia is ranked significantly lower. They’re tied for No. 34 in the country in turnover margin (plus-5) with seven fumbles and seven interceptions (all from starter Jake Fromm).
2. Prevent punt returns
The Bulldogs have only allowed 12 punt returns all year, which ties them at No. 31 in the nation. They’re also only allowing 5.25 yards per return — good for No. 34.
Thanks to senior punter JK Scott’s ability to create impressive hang time, Alabama has only allowed opposing teams to return four punts all year. That’s the best in the country, and so is the 1.25 yards that they allow per return.
Scott’s presence creates opportunities to change field position. That cannot be understated in a game of this magnitude.
3. Get after opposing quarterbacks …
Through the first four games, Alabama’s defense was only averaging 1.25 sacks per game. They were shut out in Weeks 3 and 4. Then they turned it on.
Over the past nine games, the Tide have averaged 3.44 sacks per game, which would rank them first in the country if they had averaged that over the entire season. They still rank No. 22, however, as they have averaged 2.77.
Georgia hasn’t found the same success.
They’re averaging 2.21, which isNo. 54 in the country. With that said, they have eight sacks over their past two games — against Auburn and Oklahoma.
4. … and pick them off
Alabama has ranked in the top 20 in interceptions in each of the past three seasons. This season, they’ve collected 17. That ties them at No. 14 in the country.
Similarly to the sacks, Georgia hasn’t matched that productivity.
The Bulldogs have 11 interceptions, which ties them at No. 62 in the country. Their 0.79 interceptions per game is even worse, as that’s only good for No. 69 in the nation.
Alabama has three players — Mack Wilson (4), Levi Wallace (3) and Ronnie Harrison (3) — with three or more interceptions. Georgia only has one — Dominick Sanders (4).
5. Get off to a faster start
Alabama is ranked in the top 5 in the country in first-quarter points per game (10.9). Over the course of the past six games, the Tide has averaged outscoring their opponents by 5.17 points out of the gate.
Georgia is a little bit different.
They’re averaging 8.5 first-quarter points per game, which isn’t even in the top 20 (No. 22). If you look at the Bulldogs’plast six games, they’re only averaging a slight lead coming out of the first quarter (0.33-point average).
If you look at just postseason play, Georgia has been losing after the first quarter of both games they’ve played — being outscored by a total of 21-7. Alabama, on the other hand, held a 10-0 lead following the first quarter in its only postseason game against Clemson.