Forget Alabama ... Georgia has the SEC's best backfield
When Georgia jumps out to a lead, everyone knows it’s going to run the ball.
Whether it’s Nick Chubb, Sony Michel or true freshman D’Andre Swift, coach Kirby Smart’s squad has plenty of firepower in the backfield.
Add in sophomores Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield, and the Dawgs have a legitimate claim as the SEC’s best running back group.
On Saturday afternoon, it was Tennessee that got a steady dose of that elite group, watching as the Bulldogs racked up 294 yards on the ground to go with four touchdowns. (Two of those scores came from QB Jake Fromm, but, that counts. Just ask Alabama.)
Even when the 41-0 blowout was in full effect and the Vols’ defense knew the Bulldogs were going to pound the ball on the ground, Georgia still averaged 5.3 yards per carry, effectively running out the clock and killing any chance the Vols had of getting on the scoreboard.
With such a dominant performance against a division rival, it’s time for the Alabama backfield to step aside and cede the title of the SEC’s best running back corps to the Bulldogs, who have more than earned the honor.
You really can’t go wrong when choosing between Georgia’s backs and Alabama’s group of Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris, but the Bulldogs have gotten the job done against tougher opponents long while jumping out to an incredible 5-0 start.
Here are a few reasons Georgia’s running backs are better than Alabama’s so far this year:
A true leader
While Harris and Scarbrough split top billing in the Bama backfield, Chubb is the leader of the Bulldogs’ unit.
Saturday’s game was the 20th time in his storied career that he’s gone over 100 yards in a game, joining the legendary Herschel Walker as the only Georgia backs to accomplish such a feat.
With two more touchdowns, he’ll move into second place on Georgia’s career rushing touchdowns list behind Walker and with 96 more yards on the ground, he’ll join Walker as the only Dawgs to reach 4,000 career rushing yards.
Yes, fellow senior Michel is an incredible complement to Chubb, but when the going gets tough, it’s Chubb who is on the field more often than not.
The next great one
Though Swift nearly lost a fumble late in Saturday’s game, the positives in his true-freshman season have vastly outweighed the negatives.
Swift carried five times for 36 yards (an impressive 7.2 yards per carry) and has averaged 7.3 yards every time he’s touched the ball this year.
The young back out of Philadelphia looks like he will take the reins from Chubb and Michel next year and make sure the Georgia running game doesn’t miss a beat.
To be fair, Najee Harris was the No. 1 running back in the 2017 class, but he hasn’t gotten the same opportunities (or been as effective with the touches he has received) as Swift, who is making it hard for Smart to keep him off the field.
Worse QB play than Bama
Say what you want about freshman QB Jake Fromm and the incredible way he’s stepped in for injured starter Jacob Eason this year, but Fromm is nowhere near good enough to win the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award this season.
Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide’s best running back might, in fact, be QB Jalen Hurts, who led the team in rushing yards through the first four weeks of the season.
Hurts earned the Offensive Player of the Year award as a freshman in 2016 and may be on his way to winning it again this year.
Whether he adds another trophy to his collection, simply having Hurts on the field makes Alabama’s running backs better. Hurts is a legitimate threat on read options, and while Fromm may have scored two touchdowns on the ground against the Vols, he won’t be confused for a star runner anytime soon.
Fortunately, these two teams may get a chance to settle this debate once and for all.
As the only remaining undefeated teams in the SEC, Georgia and Alabama could be heading for an SEC Championship Game matchup in December.
When comparing the two squads, they are very similar — elite defenses, outstanding running backs and developing passing games.
Should the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide eventually meet in Atlanta, it could end up being one of the most memorable conference title games in recent history.
And, of course, the game would feature plenty of opportunities for the two backfields to stake their claim to the No. 1 spot.