ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (12-1)
at GEORGIA BULLDOGS (13-1)
National Championship Game
Kickoff: Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Alabama -4.0, Total: 45.0
#4 Alabama and #3 Georgia will be playing for the title when the two teams meet Monday night.
Alabama was nearly on the outside of the College Football Playoff, but the committee showed that it made the right choice in putting the Crimson Tide into the field. Alabama faced the top-ranked team in the country last week, and the Tide had no trouble rolling in that one. They beat Clemson 24-6 and honestly made it look like the Tigers didnít even belong on the same field as them. Thatís no surprise to anybody, though. If you give Alabama head coach Nick Saban that much time to prepare for a game, heís going to take advantage. Georgia, meanwhile, battled back from a 31-14 deficit to defeat Oklahoma 54-48 in double overtime in its game. The Bulldogs are led by head coach Kirby Smart, who will be looking forward to this one. Smart was Sabanís defensive coordinator in Alabama only two years ago, so heíll definitely feel as though he knows this Crimson Tide team well. That should help in helping Georgia prepare for this game, but it could also work against him. Saban definitely knows what Smart likes to do as well. One trend that stands out when looking at this game is the fact that Georgia was 6-0 ATS when playing away from home after one or more consecutive wins this season. Nick Saban is, however, 9-4 SU and 8-5 ATS in bowl games with Alabama, so itís clear that he knows how to get his team prepared for huge contests like this one.
Last week, Alabama looked like an NFL team when the Tide took on top-seeded Clemson. Thatís what this team looked like for most of the season, but the Tide seemingly struggled down the stretch and then lost to Auburn in a game that many felt that Alabama needed to win. The Tide did, however, sneak into the playoff, and they now find themselves playing for a championship. Defensively, the focus for Alabama will be stopping the run in this one. Georgia isnít necessarily a one dimensional team, but the Crimson Tide will be more than confident with their corners playing man-to-man coverage against Jake Fromm and the Bulldogs passing attack. That would allow the Tide to stack the box and focus on shutting down Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. If Alabama can make things extremely tough on Georgiaís two-headed monster of a rushing attack then itís hard to imagine the Tide not winning this one. They will, however, need to make some plays in the passing game themselves. QB Jalen Hurts is a talented player, but he definitely struggles to throw the ball down the field at times. If he canít hit on some of those throws on Monday then Alabama will not be able to run the ball very effectively. Hurts just needs to give WR Calvin Ridley a chance here, as he is one of the better receivers in college football. If Hurts and this passing game get going then RBs Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough should have a field day with Georgia. After all, the Bulldogs looked very beatable in the running game in their win over Oklahoma. One thing that will be extremely important is Hurts taking care of the football. Turnovers plagued the Tide against Auburn late in the year, and that canít happen again here.
With Georgia trailing 31-14 and the first half coming to an end, things appeared to be getting out of hand for the Bulldogs against Oklahoma. The Sooners were getting the ball to start the second half and their offense was unstoppable for most of the game. But Oklahoma made a questionable decision to squib kick after a late score in the first half, and that set up Georgia for a field goal that made the game 31-17 heading into the break. And while this might be ridiculous to say, that field goal seemingly swung the momentum in the game. The Bulldogs came out hot in the second half, and from there they truly dominated the Sooners and eventually won in double overtime. Both RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel tore the Oklahoma defense apart, as they did to opponents throughout the course of the regular season. Itís important that they are able to find some holes against Alabama or this game could seriously get out of hand. QB Jake Fromm played pretty well against the Sooners, but the Bulldogs canít put too much pressure on the freshman to make plays against a defense like this in a game as big as this one. The running game will need to open things up for Fromm or this one could look a lot like the Alabama vs. Clemson game. Defensively, stopping the run is Georgiaís main priority. The Bulldogs can easily send help over the top and help make life on Calvin Ridley difficult, but they must do everything possible to slow down Alabamaís rushing attack. And that is a lot easier said than done.