BetAnySports college football customers, needless to say, look forward to the kind of showdown they'll witness on Saturday night. The Alabama Crimson Tide is ranked second in the nation (AP poll), while the Georgia Bulldogs are ranked third. It's an 8 PM ET kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
The big late-breaking news, in case you weren't aware, is that Nick Saban will be permitted to take his place on the sideline after testing three times negative for COVID-19 - this following a positive test earlier in the week.
And the trend people like to talk about is the 21-0 record he's had against former assistants. Kirby Smart, the Georgia coach, is one of these, although his Bulldogs have given the Tide life-and-death on the big stage a couple of times, including that national title game where Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench as a freshman to lead an overtime win. Don't make any mistake about the fact that Smart knows all about the guy he's going against.
Now he has to have the horses to make things happen. Does he have them in the right places?
GEORGIA BULLDOGS at ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE, 8 PM ET
BetAnySports Line: Alabama -5.5, Total 58
You hear all the time about how defense wins championships, and if that's the case, Georgia would appear to have a real shot at the national crown. The Bulldogs have thus far allowed their opponents only 3.5 yards per play, and keep in mind that this is real SEC competition they are facing. And these opponents have converted just 28% of their attempts on third down.
Meanwhile, the Tide allowed itself to be exploited to the tune of 647 yards by their former offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, who currently resides at Ole Miss.
But that doesn't really tell the story here. Georgia has the athletes on defense; this much is true. But often-times what you see from these great defensive stats is that teams compile them against opponents who aren't so dynamic offensively, or have so-so quarterbacking. Indeed, there isn't anything extraordinary about what Arkansas, Auburn or Tennessee has to offer.
Alabama is demonstrating that it may just be another case altogether. This is not one of those offenses that relies on throwing a five-yard pass in the hopes that its receivers can carry it another 5-10 yards. In fact, it's quite the contrary. They present something that is very unique indeed for the modern college game - they swing for the fences, and they connect.
Quarterback Mac Jones, who got some experience last year after Tua Tagovailoa went down, has averaged 13.3 yards per attempt. That's #1 in the nation, and that would be sensational enough. Except that he has been a guy busting up defenses down the field. Jones is 72% accurate with 21 yards an attempt when he's throwing more than ten yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He is 75% on throws of twenty or more yards. Not only has Georgia not seen something like that, very few teams do in this day and age. And because the Bulldogs have their secondary stretched out by this, they would make themselves more vulnerable underneath.
And then you can pile on a little by talking about a featured back (Najee Harris) who may not be as sensational as, say, a Derrick Henry or Josh Jacobs, but is averaging 3.5 yards per carry AFTER contact. So he requires more than one tackler, in all likelihood. So will Alabama's offense be tested? Sure. But perhaps Georgia's defense gets an even stiffer test.
We have seen on several occasions that the Crimson Tide has no problem engaging in shootouts. We saw one last year with LSU, and we have seen them in games against Clemson, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and others. So they don't have to reduce an opponent to a slog to win. And they are being kept down very much either.
Is Georgia prepared to engage in a shootout, if necessary? We wonder about that. There are no Todd Gurleys or Nick Chubbs or Sony Michels or DeAndre Swifts on this roster; no back who can take over a game like they have had recently. And in Stetson Bennett they have a quarterback who's been a walk-on and programmed to protect the ball, when something much more explosive might be required. He hasn't gone down the field a whole lot.
When it comes down to it, this is not about the team that gets "one more stop," but rather the one that makes one more big play on offense. Alabama is that team. Primarily, we lay the points. And we'll go with an OVER as well.
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