For the fourth time in five years, an SEC team will reign over college football. Alabama, the defending national champion, is set to take on Georgia in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship.
Alabama (13-1, 7-1) enters the title game having won eight in a row and topped Cincinnati 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl. Meanwhile, Georgia (13-1, 8-0) bounced back from a 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship to easily dispose of Michigan, 34-11, in the Orange Bowl.
Date: Monday, Jan. 10, 2022
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Georgia -3
Moneyline: Georgia -145; Alabama +125
GEORGIA AT A GLANCE
Despite the loss in the SEC Championship and even though Alabama has won three of the past six national championships, Georgia enters this game as the favorite. It may sound a bit counterintuitive, but the Bulldogs have been dominant all season.
Any discussion of Georgia starts with Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean and the team’s historic defense. The Bulldogs led the nation giving up just 9.5 points and 253 yards (only 81 rushing) per game. Davis won the 2021 Outland Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award and was named First Team All-America by a multitude of outlets. Dean, the 2021 Butkus Award winner, was also named to several All-America teams and racked up 68 tackles, including 10.5 for loss.
Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith on what it would mean to get the football team its first national championship in 41 years:
“I tell people you’ll be a legend. No matter whether you’re from Georgia or not, you’ll be a legend. We came in to be legendary.”
— Seth Emerson (@SethWEmerson) January 5, 2022
The defense leads the way, but the offense shouldn’t go unnoticed. JT Daniels started the season at quarterback but got hurt early and Stetson Bennett took over for the remainder of the season as the offense averaged 39 points and 448 yards per game. Bennett, who threw for 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions, is coming off one of his best performances of the season in the semifinal, completing 20 of his 30 pass attempts for 313 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
ALABAMA AT A GLANCE
Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young commands an offense that averaged 41 points and 494 yards per game. The sophomore threw for 4,503 yards, 46 touchdowns and five interceptions. Young only threw for 181 yards in the Cotton Bowl and the Crimson Tide used that opportunity to show off its rushing attack as Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for a season-high 204 yards against Cincinnati.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) December 31, 2021
Young will likely need to pass more against Georgia as the Bulldogs have been one of the nation’s best rush defenses. The absence of John Metchie III — who racked up 1,142 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season but tore his ACL in the SEC title game — may prove to be vital as Young looks to stretch the field.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide give up 20 points per game and are led by Will Anderson, the Defensive Most Valuable Player from the Cotton Bowl. In that game against Cincinnati, Anderson recorded two sacks, bringing his season total to 17.5. The sophomore also notched a ridiculous 34.5 tackles for loss, recording two or more in 11 of the 14 games he’s played, including each of the past eight.
When Alabama dominated the SEC Championship I told myself I wouldn’t bet against Nick Saban again. … Well, I’m betting against Saban again.
Beating a team twice in one season is always tough, especially one as talented as Georgia. After getting embarrassed in the SEC Championship game, the Bulldogs are going to come out and make a statement, starting with a defense eager to make amends for its worst performance of the year.
Stetson Bennett isn’t one of the country’s elite quarterbacks, but he’s shown an ability to make plays when needed, and if he plays anything like he did against Michigan, then the Bulldogs offense will be in good shape. Alabama manhandled Cincinnati, but it’s clear this isn’t one of Alabama’s best teams. The Crimson Tide have shown flaws throughout the year and it bit them once against Texas A&M. It will do so again Monday night.
PICK: Georgia 24, Alabama 21