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|Georgia Bulldogs||-3 (-105)||-145||O 52 (-105)|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||+3 (-115)||+125||U 52 (-115)|
Everybody by now is familiar with the storyline between Georgia and Alabama. Simply put, the Tide has dominated the series. Nick Saban’s squad has won seven straight in the rivalry – among those wins were last month’s 41-24 win in the SEC Championship as well as the double-overtime National Championship game to end the 2017 season when Tua Tagaviloa found Devonta Smith for the game-winning score. Kirby Smart is 0-4 against his mentor, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change. Georgia comes into this game with something to prove and just dominated Michigan in the semifinal. But it’s hard to bet against the Tide and even harder to do so when they’re the underdog (they’ve covered the spread in five of the last six times they were expected to lose).
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As if there was any question about who public enemy No. 1 is for the Georgia defense to shut down, it’s the Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Bryce Young.
Young shredded the previously unblemished Bulldog defense, completing 26-of-44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns without any interceptions. It’s what propelled him to become the winner of college football’s most prestigious award as the cap on his dominant campaign, throwing for 4,503 yards, 46 touchdowns, and just five interceptions.
While Young is the focus, the key will be shutting down his weapons. If you’re Georgia, the good news is star receiver John Metchie III is out after tearing his ACL; an injury he sustained in the league title game against the Bulldogs.
But the Tide still has one of the nation’s best wide receivers in Jameson Williams. This year, the junior wideout couldn’t stop, catching 75 passes for 1,507 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Usually, this is when we would say how Georgia’s defense has been suffocating this season, and that’s why the offense’s best players might be shut down. That said, the SEC Championship showed that might not necessarily be true.
The Tide converted 7-of-14 third downs, and Georgia didn’t record a single sack (after Auburn had seven the week before). Alabama’s pre-snap movement to create favorable matchups was the main reason for its success, and that’s why Georgia’s dominant defensive line was never able to get home.
The adjustments between last matchup and this one will be telling.
Georgia jumped out to a 10-0 lead last time before getting blitzed 41-14 the rest of the way. By mid-way through the second half, the Bulldogs were playing catchup, and that’s the exact opposite of how they’re designed.
Georgia had so much success against Michigan last week in the semifinal because it went on the offensive early, which left them open to being able to pass or run throughout the entire night.
Stetson Bennett earned himself some credit that night, putting together probably his best game of the season – going 20-of-30 for 311 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
The Bulldogs offense was prolific, converting 10-of-16 third downs for 521 yards of offense while possessing the ball for more than 34 minutes. The Bulldogs showed their depth on offense, with four different receivers catching touchdown passes and six catching multiple passes.
The nation’s best tight end, Brock Bowers is for sure the man to stop though. He caught five passes for 52 yards and a score.
The last time these teams met, they combined for 65 points, so why is the over/under set at 52? Because Vegas is expecting these teams to recognize each others tendencies and slow each other down – and the Tide will certainly try to slow Bowers as a part of it.
James Cook is another guy to watch, he caught four passes for 112 yards and a score in the semifinal.
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The x-factors might be the coaches – can Smart out “smart” Saban? – but we’re going to look at the rushing attack.
Georgia’s rushing offense has been good not great, but did enough against the Wolverines – rushing 35 times for 190 yards (5.4 yards per carry). Now, we see if Zamir White can be a factor against Will Anderson and company. Last time, he was not. Like at all, rushing seven times for just 27 yards.
On the flipside, Brian Robinson had a good season, but was spectacular in his semifinal game. He couldn’t be stopped, rushing 26 times for 204 yards. He managed just 55 yards on 16 carries last time against Georgia’s dominant line, but if he can be any better than that, then the advantage goes to Alabama.
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|Georgia Bulldogs vs Alabama Crimson Tide Information|
|Teams||Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide|
|Location||Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.|
|Time||Monday, Jan. 10, 8:00 p.m. EST|
|How to watch||ESPN|
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Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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