The Georgia Bulldogs are Going to Win the Championship--Here's Why:
Monday Night, January the 8th will be remembered for one of the most physical, well played and closest games in College Football History.
It will also be the night the student takes down the master and the Georgia Bulldogs removed the hex that's been on them since 1980.
There's a good chunk of the nation who will likely refuse to watch the game, which kicks off just after 8pm eastern time because it features two teams who play in the SEC. And because Georgia's opponent--the Alabama Crimson Tide didn't win or play in the Conference Championship game.
It won't matter---those people will miss a "Game for the Ages".....
While 2017 did not produce a single "Dominant" College Football team, I'm pretty sure---these are the two best, most balanced teams in the country. While not exactly the same---they are nearly mirror images of each other. Exceptional defense and at times dangerous offenses.
Here's the Breakdown as I see it:
Alabama: Leading into this season, I though Alabama QB Jalen Hurts was set up to be a Heisman contender. Hurts was not awful in 2017--but he didn't exactly light things up either
Hurts has struggled in the pocket making baseline throws and reading defenses. What saves him on many plays is his exceptional athletic ability. He makes throws on the move as well as anyone in the country.
He has not turned the ball over in the air much this season as his 1 interception indicates...but he has put the ball on the ground while carrying the ball.
WR Calvin Ridley did Calvin Ridley things this season, catching 59 passes for almost 1,000 yards and 4 TD's. When Hurts does pass---Ridley is likely the target. No other player on the Crimson Tide had more than 16 catches this season, which may present a problem.
The Running Game, which most of us thought would be a "By Committee" thing--still is, but Damien Harris emerged as the main threat. Harris ran for 983 yards and 11 TD's. The Tide still does rotate carries not trying to wear Harris out, Bo Scarborough the most talented of them has been a huge disappointment but Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs have both emerged to help balance things out.
Georgia: The 'Dawgs' have been very, very good on offense. Very efficient. QB Jake Fromm makes surprisingly few mistakes and has gotten better each week.
The true freshman threw for 2383 yards and 23 TD's while throwing 5 TD's. He excels at the long throw ranking as one of the best in the country and is surprisingly accurate with those throws. He's not likely to scramble like Hurts---Fromm is an excellent pocket passer who is still developing on the run.
The strength of the team obviously is at RB. What more does anyone need to say about Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The duo makes defenses play at their best---if you miss a tackle, either of these guys can break off long TD runs in a heartbeat.
What is scary about the running attack---is after Chubb and Michel, you've got exceptionally talented De'Andre Swift who is a combination of both players along with a very talented Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield (yes, Evander's kid). All 5 are threats to score whenever the touch the ball.
Perhaps the most under appreciated part of this team is at WR. Javon Wims has been exceptional most games and is Fromm's "Go To" guy. 44 catches and 7 TD's, Wims is a big receiver with some speed and Fromm loves throwing back shoulder fades to the 6-4 Wims. Terry Godwin is excellent as the counter, if you double Wims, Godwin can beat you--quickly.
Advantage: I think Georgia's offense is better. If the line blocks well, the 'Dogs are a difficult matchup because of their balance and variety of playmakers. If Fromm gets in a rhythm early---Coordinator Jim Chaney can really mix up calls and keep the Bama Defense off-balance. The Tide have been a bit of a disappointment and I believe can be stopped on offense.
Alabama: This is the Tide's "Bread and Butter". They got a bit healthier during the break between their last regular season game and the playoff game and it showed. It showed....a LOT.
Nobody scored more than 26 points on Jeremy Pruitt's unit this season. Though the schedule was a bit soft.
The defense starts with arguably the best defender in College Football Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick who is almost like having a coach on the field. Fitzpatrick can play deep safety, line up in the box or split wide and play as a corner and do any of them well. He's the guy who makes sure the Tide Defense is in the right place and generally ends up wherever the ball is.
With Da'Ron Payne, Raekwon Davis and company holding down the line---getting push on Alabama is a challenge for anyone. Their performance may be the determining factor in this game. LB Anfernee Jennings will not play due to injury and that will hurt---Jennings is a great run stopper, but there's depth here and it will help.
Georgia: A very well balanced unit that was caught off guard by the crazy pace of Oklahoma early in the semi-final game before adjusting. Very fast and very deep up front, the Bulldogs are frighteningly similar to Alabama on defense (duh) their only weakness might...might be in the secondary.
The best defender on the field may very well be Georgia LB Roquan Smith who at times plays like there are 5 of him on the field. Smith--when freed up by the front line is capable of going sideline to sideline with the best of them keeping all teams from getting the edge on his team.
Mix in big and extremely fast LB's Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy and this has at times been a frighteningly good defense.
Senior Aaron Davis and Dominick Sanders anchor a very experienced backfield who need to keep Calvin Ridley in front of them on the night.
I think Georgia will win this game because they'll move the ball on Alabama. This will NOT be a high scoring game, but I like the Bulldogs offense more than Alabama. Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has slowed his team down and they are very reliant on Hurts to make plays with his legs.
If Georgia keeps the Alabama QB contained in the pocket he won't beat them with his arm. But they need to get pressure on him and make him turn the ball over---something Hurts rarely does.
On defense---the Tide, despite their dominance have shown some weakness on the edges and it likely will be exploited. Yes, they dismembered a good Clemson team, but Clemson did not have near the offense Georgia does.
I don't think either team will make it much into the 20's, I look for Georgia to win a 23-21 game with the possibility of overtime.
But I could be wrong....