SEC Championship Countdown: 5 battles Alabama must win to beat Georgia
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s rivalry week as Alabama is hosting Auburn in the Iron Bowl and Georgia and Georgia Tech are set to face off this Saturday.
That won’t stop us from looking ahead as the SEC West and SEC East have already been decided.
As long as both win this coming Saturday, we’ll get a top-5 matchup in the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia. It’s a rematch of sorts from the National Championship Game, and could be viewed as a winner-take-all when it comes to the College Football Playoff. Here are five areas Alabama must win against Georgia.
The line of scrimmage
Alabama needs to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Georgia’s pass rush hasn’t produced a lot of sacks this season (last in the SEC with 17) so that should give Alabama fans confidence that the offensive line will be able to keep Tua Tagovailoa clean.
We all know what that means.
Alabama WRs vs. Georgia’s DBs
If Alabama’s wide receivers are able to win against Georgia’s secondary, it could be a long afternoon and night for the Bulldogs.
Georgia is allowing just 5.8 yards per pass, and is 4th in the SEC in pass defense at 182.7 yards per game. Alabama leads the SEC with 11.8 yards per pass and is second in the league at 328 passing yards per game. Something has to give.
Tagovailoa threw 3 TD passes against Georgia in a little more than a half last year.
Georgia has zero chance of winning this game if Alabama’s receivers have a big day.
For a half in the national championship game last season, it looked like Georgia coach Kirby Smart was going to get the best of his former boss Nick Saban.
Smart had a great plan on defense, and was able to stifle Alabama’s offense. That changed in the second half, but the Bulldogs should be commended for their scheme.
It changed because Saban pulled off arguably his most daring move, and one of the most daring moves by any coach. He benched Jalen Hurts and put Alabama’s championship hopes in the hands of Tagovailoa. And then he stuck by that decision even after Tagovailoa threw an interception.
The coaching matchup, particularly against the coordinators, could go a long way in deciding this one.
Limiting explosive plays
We’ve spent a good chunk of the year talking about how explosive Alabama’s wideouts have been. And they are.
Georgia has some absolute game-wreckers too in D’Andre Swift and Mecole Hardman, and it’s critical for Alabama to prevent the big plays that lead to six points.
D’Andre Swift is hitting his stride, and his burst is one reason Georgia leads the SEC in 20-yard runs (31), 30-yard runs (14), 40-yard runs (7), 50-yard runs (5), 60-yard runs (4) and 70-yard runs (3).
He only played the second half, but Tua Tagovailoa outplayed Jake Fromm in their national championship last season.
Tagovailoa threw for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns to 1 interception. Fromm posted 232 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.
Fromm is a talented player, but Tagovailoa is special.
Tagovailoa has been the superior quarterback all season, not just statistically, but schematically as well. He can make every throw; Fromm’s repertoire is more limited.
He’ll need to be that when Alabama and Georgia face off in the SEC title game. This could be the game that wraps up the Heisman Trophy for Tagovailoa.