College football’s 2021-22 season concludes on Jan. 10 with Georgia and Alabama meeting in an all-SEC showdown to decide the national championship. Monday night’s showdown in Indianapolis is the second time they meet in the ’21 season. The Crimson Tide upset the Bulldogs 41-24 in the SEC Championship Game, which lifted coach Nick Saban’s team to the No. 1 overall seed in the CFB Playoff. Although Georgia stumbled in its biggest test this year, coach Kirby Smart’s team was arguably the better team throughout the season. This game marks the third time since the BCS era two SEC teams will meet for the title. LSU-Alabama met in ’11 in the BCS title and Alabama and Georgia met to decide the champion in ’17.
A rematch of the 2021 SEC Championship Game takes place on Monday night as No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia square off in the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship. The Crimson Tide are looking for their second straight national title and seventh under coach Nick Saban. The Tide earned their spot in Monday’s national title game thanks to a 27-6 victory over No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl semifinal. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, dominated No. 2 Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl semifinal.
Keys for the Game
Georgia must slow down Bryce Young
Alabama QB Bryce Young was the key in the first matchup between these two teams when he torched Georgia’s defense for 421 passing yards and four total touchdowns to supercharge his Heisman win. In the CFP semifinals against Cincinnati, Young wasn’t as effective — though he still had three touchdowns — with 181 yards and an interception. Georgia will have to follow Cincinnati and keep Young in the pocket. He had 40 rushing yards and a touchdown in the SEC title game.
Georgia QB Stetson Bennett has to continue to step up
Bennett had one of his best games in a Bulldogs uniform against Michigan. He threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns against a Wolverines defense that allowed 196.1 passing yards on average prior to this game. That followed his 340-yard outing in the SEC title game loss to Alabama, when Bennett tossed two picks — with one a pick-6.
Thoughts from the last game and what to think about
Alabama entered that game as a 6-point underdog, as Georgia looked like the clear-cut best team in the country at that point, but that didn’t mean much when was all said and done. The Crimson Tide, led by a huge performance from Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, throttled a Bulldogs defense that was being lauded as one of the best ever, winning the SEC Championship 41-24.
Can Georgia make the adjustments to slow down Young? Is Stetson Bennet good enough to keep the Bulldogs in the game if they fall behind? How much of a deal are the Tide injuries? And maybe most importantly of all, can Georgia get over the mental hurdle that Alabama represents? So, that means you need to have confidence in QB Bennett’s ability to move the ball down the field. It will be interesting to see if Kirby Smart pulls the trigger if Bennett is struggling and turn to J.T. Daniels.
Lastly, you can’t deny the fact that Nick Saban and Alabama live rent-free in Georgia’s head. While that’s not a deciding factor, if the Tide gets out to an early lead, there is definitely going to be a, “here we go again” thought that creeps in the back of the Bulldogs’ minds. Should that happen we could see a big win for Alabama ones more.
A complete repeat of the first matchup seems unlikely. Georgia should make adjustments and come to Indianapolis with a much better game plan of how to defend Young and the Alabama offense. In the first game, the Bulldogs lost the small things – turnovers, red zone offense, and third downs – and had issues on both sides of the ball. If they can reverse those three areas, get a better performance out of Bennett, Smart’s team is likely to leave Indianapolis with the title. On the other sideline, if Young has another huge night, and Alabama’s defense creates a ton of problems for Bennett again, the Crimson Tide will go back-to-back. Expect a closer game this time around with the trophy on the line.
Prediction: Under 52.5
When it comes down to it, I think Georgia’s defense has too much pride and is too good to let another 41-point performance happen again, while its offense has enough issues to keep this one Under the number. Their great defense will have a game plan created from last time’s disaster.
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