After a long, sometimes shocking period when an SEC football team was not the national champion... let’s see, that would be 12 months... the SEC will have another national champ after Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
The rest of the nation... like the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12... may not like it, but the SEC is back on top in college football. It’s #3 Georgia vs. #4 Alabama, two neighboring Southern stalwarts will play in the South’s largest city for the title.
What are we going to see?
We’ll see two teams that are very similar. Both Georgia and Alabama have powerful running games, strong defenses, and head coaches who learned their craft on the Nick Saban coaching tree... Nick himself and Kirby Smart, Nick’s former defensive coordinator at ‘Bama.
The differences in the running games come in the numbers. Georgia has one of the best rushing duos in college history; Nick Chubb and Sony Michel each ran for over 1,100 yards this season, while the Tide had five players gain over 275 yards on the ground, including their quarterback Jalen Hurts. Both offenses can win with the running game.
Both defenses are ranked top four in defense, in the Power 5 conferences... Alabama #1 and Georgia #4.
But here’s why I like Alabama to win, and earn Saban his sixth college football national championship.
First, the Crimson Tide has a very large chip on their collective shoulders. Critics say they should never have been voted into the playoff, that they snuck in at the #4 spot, that they didn’t even play in the SEC Championship game, that Big Ten champ Ohio State deserved to be there.
They displayed that giant chip with their shutdown of #1 Clemson in the CFP semifinal. I believe their defense can do likewise to Georgia.
I like Jalen Hurts in this championship game more than Georgia QB Jake Fromm. Hurts has been in this spot, the freshman Fromm has not. And former Alabama standout defensive lineman, Johnathan Allen, told ESPN, “If Bama’s defense has a weakness, it’s the struggle with dual-threat quarterbacks.” Fromm is more of a pocket passer than a dual-threat guy, which plays into the Tide’s hands.
And then there’s Nick Saban’s history of coaching against his former assistants, who have advanced into their own head coaching roles.
Teacher Nick is 11-0 against his pupils.
Alabama is favored by four points at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. They’ll cover... like maybe 24-10.
And the SEC will be back on top again and rule the college football world.
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Cover photo from Sandro Schuh on Unsplash