Alabama got here with just one hiccup when they lost to Texas A&M and many assumed that would spell the end of the Crimson Tide’s shot at back-to-back titles while ending the SEC’s run of six straight BCS Championships.
However, it’s college football and you can never assume anything. When Oregon and Kansas State lost on the same weekend, a big door opened up for Alabama, Georgia and the SEC to lay claim to a seventh straight championship.
Each team has one loss this season, but Georgia looked absolutely dreadful in their road loss at South Carolina losing 35-6 while Alabama was one fourth down conversion near the goal line from prevailing over Texas A&M at home.
The easy conclusion here is that Alabama should be the easy winner Saturday night, right?
Alabama has the experience in big games and have won two of the last three national titles, and Georgia has shown the propensity of failing to show up in big games.
In particular, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray has struggled against good defenses as he did against South Carolina when he completed only 11 of 31 passes for 109 yards and an interception. His performance against Florida wasn’t much better despite his team prevailing on the strength of the defense when he completed 12 of 24 passes for 150 yards and three interceptions.
Against poor teams, Murray has thrived and inflated his stats to the point where he leads the nation in pass efficiency.
On the other sideline will be the second most efficient quarterback, AJ McCarron, who has only thrown two interceptions this season–both coming in the loss against Texas A&M.
I give Alabama the edge at quarterback because of McCarron’s experience and success in big games.
Each team features a two-headed monster at running back and both teams have stout defenses that may find space difficult to come by on Saturday, but the Crimson Tide offensive line is the best in the country and I look for Nick Saban to dial up a game plan where he relies on his horses in the trenches.
The two areas in which Georgia can make an impact on this game is rushing the passer and creating turnovers.
In their win over Florida, the Bulldogs forced six Gator turnovers and a number of sacks of Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel that proved to be the difference in the narrow victory.
Georgia has a number of players that will be playing on Sundays, but at times hasn’t played together well as a unit. Individual performances have been evident, but the lack of a collective force imposing their will on opposing offenses was absent for long stretches this season.
The Bulldog defense did come on late in the season, but the lack of competition was a big part of that. However, if Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and Shawn Williams play together–they can pull off the win–if Murray doesn’t buckle under the pressure as he has done in the past.
However, I am going to take the Alabama Crimson Tide to leave the Georgia Dome as victors 26-17 and clinch another trip to the title game, because of their coach, quarterback and offensive line. Furthermore, I simply don’t trust Murray or Georgia coach Mark Richt in pressure-packed situations.
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.