ULTIMATE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
FOOTBALL PLAYOFF CHAMPIONSHIP
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
ALABAMA VS. GEORGIA
CFP National Championship presented by AT&T
For the second time in seven seasons, college football will have an all-SEC national championship game. In 2011, Alabama dominated LSU to claim the BCS title. Now, it's SEC champion Georgia facing Alabama in the Bulldogs' backyard in Atlanta. The game features teams strikingly similar in their makeup. They'll both play elite defense and rely on their running games and trench play. Much of the pregame drama will center on Nick Saban and his former pupil and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Bama creates a big play over the top by dressing up the Yankee route -- a deep post paired with an underneath crosser off play-action. Show the jet sweep to pull the linebackers down and give QB Jalen Hurts time to scan the field. With the crosser occupying the safety, the Tide have a one-on-one with WR Calvin Ridley on the post. -- plays by Matt Bowen
HOW YOU BEAT ALABAMA
"Alabama doesn't have that difference-maker rushing the passer as it did in the past. Without a Jonathan Allen or a Tim Williams getting after the quarterback, the defense has been put in a bind: Do you expose your secondary by giving the quarterback too much time, or do you expose them further by rushing a safety or cornerback? It's a win-win for the offense, no matter what." -- Anonymous SEC coach
Three tight ends lining up, plus Nick Chubb in the backfield, screams power football -- and the D is already playing aggressively for the run from the jump. But off the fake crack toss, TE Isaac Nauta releases downfield, offering a layup toss for QB Jake Fromm. And no one is home to stop it. -- Play by Matt Bowen
HOW YOU BEAT GEORGIA
"There's no question you have to load up to stop the run. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D'Andre Swift are dynamic. There's no doubt you have to take away the run and find ways to affect the quarterback." -- Anonymous SEC coach
HOW THEY STACK UP
Based on efficiency ratings, the teams are uncannily similar. The semifinal matchups had at least one disparity per matchup, but not here.
These two are alike in many ways. Both will rely on stout, controlling defenses and efficient, run-centered offenses.
MATCHUP THAT MATTERS
ALA: Christian Miller, LB vs. UGA: Nick Chubb, RB
The return to health of Alabama's linebacker corps has been an important factor at the end of the season and will be again after the Tide lost Anfernee Jennings against Clemson. Miller is one of those who returned from injury. That group will be tested against Georgia's running game. Chubb averages 2.55 yards after initial hits, while Alabama's defense is allowing the most yards after contact in the past three seasons.
RECRUITING ON ROSTER
Alabama is college football's best recruiting program, but under Kirby Smart, Georgia is gaining on it. The Bulldogs have the most five-star prospects of any team in the playoff this season. The Tide, on the other hand, have built great depth through an incredible run of top-ranked classes in five of the past six years.
PREDICTED FINAL SCORE
It won't be the knuckle-rapping Saban usually gives his star pupils, but we know what happens to teams built like Alabama when they face the Tide. Alabama's resurgent defense rises again in a game in which neither quarterback plays particularly well, and Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough each score a touchdown. -- Adam Rittenberg