SEC Championship Game: 3 reasons why Georgia will beat Alabama
When the only comparison you can make to Alabama’s dominant season comes from a Yale University team in 1888, you’re talking about some serious greatness. The Crimson Tide have kicked butt and taken no prisoners all year, winning all 12 games by 20 points or more for the first time in college football in 130 years.
But are they unbeatable? Nope.
Can a team like No. 4 Georgia, who are pretty darn good themselves, go into Atlanta on Saturday and win the SEC Championship Game against the mighty Crimson Tide? Of course they can.
But it won’t be easy. Alabama is so good that everything will have to go right for the Bulldogs, whopping 13.5-point underdogs, to pull this one out.
“They are really good. I mean, they have a good team,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They’re explosive. I don’t see the weaknesses. … They’re really talented. They do a good job and they’re playing at a really high level. Thing is, when they get on top of you, they know how to finish. They attack teams. They’re constantly attacking. I mean the pressure’s never off.
“That’s Alabama. They’re just really, really good on putting pressure on you, whether it’s offensively or defensively or special teams. There’s so many ways they can win the game.”
But here’s the deal: There are so many ways that GEORGIA can win this game, too. And I think they will. Everything will have to break right, of course, but I think when the sun sets in Atlanta on Saturday night, Georgia will be the SEC champions and will have shocked the world.
I know every season is a new season, but there’s still a lot to take from last year’s National Championship Game. There are three things that I take from that game — and everything that has happened this year with both teams — to make me think that when you put all that information together, Georgia has a chance to win. Here’s how:
1. Georgia looks at Alabama — and sees themselves
Confidence is everything in big-time college football, and Georgia’s players strut around with their heads held high. Many of the key players for Georgia were recruited hard by Alabama, and many of the players on both teams know each other well. Georgia, after several great recruiting classes in a row, feels like it has comparable talent to the Tide. And they’re ready to prove that on Saturday.
2. Georgia is capable of making chunk plays against Alabama
Alabama’s defense is so good that it’s hard to go on repeated 10- or 12-play drives. But where Georgia has an edge is in their ability to break off big plays with their speedy weapons at all the skill positions. Every week, the Bulldogs reel off huge plays, and before you say, “Yeah, but this is Alabama,” remember back to Mecole Hardman’s 80-yard score in last year’s title game. Long touchdowns could come on Saturday, too, maybe from Hardman again — either as a receiver or a return man — or from running back D’Andre Swift, who has his burst back and has had an 83-yard touchdown and a 77-yard touchdown already in November. Can he have one or two more bursts to start the month of December? Absolutely.
3. Jake Fromm is a veteran quarterback who will not panic
Sure, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa gets the edge in the quarterback matchup. He has been great, and he should be the runaway Heisman Trophy winner. But Fromm is playing against Alabama’s defense, not Tagovailoa, and he is going to play well and score points, too. Now that he has basically started for two full seasons, he has become a true veteran leader of this team. Because of that, he does a great job of getting Georgia in and out of bad plays, which is critical against this tough Alabama defense. What he’s also great at is finding his second and third receivers in his progressions. There’s not always time to do that against Alabama, but he’s so smart that he’ll know where to go first a lot of times, based on the formations and looks that Alabama gives him.
So, is all this enough for Georgia to win?
Sure it is.
What has to happen is that Georgia needs to score a special teams touchdown and get a seven-point edge there. It needs to win the turnover game, keeping a clean sheet themselves and forcing Alabama into a mistake or two.
And one thing that’s ironic is that Georgia’s biggest edge is with the field-goal kicking. For Georgia to win this game, though, the awesome Rodrigo Blankenship needs to spend his day not kicking field goals, but kicking extra points. Georgia can win this game when they can turn possessions into seven points instead of three.
My prediction? Georgia’s defense will be stout enough to keep it close. The big plays will come, and a big one will come late. Georgia wins it by scoring touchdowns, and will win 28-24.