We are down to the final college football game of the season and it is an absolute beauty with No. 3 Georgia taking on No. 1 Alabama for the second time in 37 days. Something crossed our mind and we went back and looked. In the preseason polls back in August, Alabama was No. 1 and Georgia was No. 3, just like they are today. Interesting right?
Back then the Crimson Tide would have been a short favorite over Georgia, but as the season unfolded, Nick Saban’s squad survived Florida, LSU, Auburn and was beaten by Texas A&M. Georgia, their closest call was in the season opener against Clemson, winning 10-3 in a game that never felt that close. The Bulldogs were strutting with their heads held high and chest pumped out until they found out what – Roll Tide – meant in the SEC title game.
Both these SEC teams were impressive in the CFP semifinals and Georgia is trying to become the second team since the BCS was formulated way back in 1998 to win a national championship without winning their conference.
Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Monday, January 10, 2022 – 8:00 PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium
Georgia Needs a Fast Start to Have Confidence
Georgia players and coaches can say all the right things and the past has nothing to do with the future, but the elephant in the room (intentionally stated that way) is the fact that Alabama has defeated the Bulldogs seven consecutive times, last losing in 2007. Everyone knows and it’s not going away until the headline says – Georgia Beats Bama.
After the stunning loss in December, it is tantamount that Kirby Smart’s defense holds the Tide scoreless early and grabs a lead of at least mild significance like 10-0. By keeping Bama scoreless, the defense will have faith in Smart’s defensive game.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett has to play like former ESPN host Stuart Scott would say, “cool as the other side of a pillow.” He has to make decisive decisions, throw with accuracy and avoid mistakes. If this all happens, the Bulldogs can win and cover.
Alabama Has to Frustrate Georgia, Go For the Throat
Because he’s Nick Saban, he can say “Trust the process” and deliver the results. We talked just over five weeks ago about the sports greatest football coach ever using the – underdog speech, for a rare time and now he can talk about being unappreciated.
Saban does have a point. Though this might not be Saban’s best outfit or near as good as last year’s champion, all they have to be is better than the Bulldogs after 60 minutes Monday. It appears the Crimson Tide has taken steps forward in the running game and creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the past five contests compared to any time before that.
Part of this is having complete confidence in themselves and believing they know what it takes to beat the Bulldogs. Though Bennett is a good college quarterback, Young has an NFL future. Maybe that won’t matter over four quarters on a Monday in January, but it has before in this kind of encounter.
Though Saban doesn’t use these words, what he expects from his team is for them to impose their will on the opponent and get them off what they do best. Once that starts to happen, go for the jugular.
Georgia Has to Run and Use More Deception to Beat Alabama
Whew, this is a hard one for college football picks because of how well these teams know each other and how they recruit many similar physically large and fast players. While we could certainly be wrong on this, we like how Georgia responded against Michigan.
The Bulldogs will have a different mindset and there is little room for doubt that Alabama played a near-perfect game in Atlanta to win the SEC title. On these pages, we’ll say the Dawgs get it done and win 28-24, winning their first national championship in 41 years.
NCAAF Pick: Georgia -3 (-110) with BetMGM