CFP National Championship Game: Why Alabama Won’t Cover Against Georgia

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Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs. Mark Brown/Getty Images/AFP

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the college football championship is a rematch of the SEC title game. The only drama in that affair was how Alabama chopped up Georgia’s prolific defense. What will the Bulldogs do to contain the Tide?

Georgia was a six-point favorite in the first meeting and sportsbooks opened them up at -2.5 in the return matchup, with football bettors pushing them to -3 on January, 1st at many of the top-rated sportsbooks.

Like many, not a big fan of rematches in college football, but when the underdog pulls an outright upset, one cannot help but wonder if the favorite will be able to revenge. Let’s look into why the Crimson Tide will need more than three points for the NCAAF odds to cover the spread versus Georgia this time.

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Monday, January 10, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at Lucas Oil Stadium

Kirby Smart Has to be Smarter This Time

There has always been talking that Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is too conservative in the big games. That perception though not completely true, does have validity, and to knock off Nick Saban this time, Smart should talk to former Georgia coach Mark Richt, who often offered surprises in big moments.

That fact is, Smart’s no dummy, and in looking at the game film when the Crimson Tide faced Texas A&M, Auburn, and Cincinnati when quarterback Bryce Young was clearly bothered by pressure from the Aggies, Tigers, and Bearcats. Auburn bailed out Young by going to coverage versus pressure, which allowed Bama to tie up Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Against Cincy, the offensive line and running back Brian Robinson Jr. ran wild on the Bearcats, ultimately putting up 301 yards rushing.

Alabama had 115 yards rushing in the previous contest and averaged 4.4 yards an attempt. Young accounted for 40 yards of that total in three scrambles, which upped the total. The Georgia defense has to keep Young in the pocket and not allow him to escape out the side door. The Dawgs have to limit the Tide to no more than 90 yards on the ground this time around.

The Georgia defense did not blitz often in the first meeting, trying to protect the secondary, the weakest link of the defense. That didn’t work as permitting 421 yards passing suggests and this time Smart has to bring pressure and force Young to make faster decisions, where he like all QB’s struggle more with accuracy.

Young is excellent in throwing with his head up, yet, when the heat arrives, he definitely loses accuracy, which is Georgia’s goal.

Georgia Has to Run and Use More Deception to Beat Alabama

On the season, the Bulldogs offense rushed for 195 YPG at 5.3 YPC. In the first matchup, Georgia had 109 yards at 3.6 YPC. Nick Saban recruits those 6’2 320-pound tackles that are hard to move in the A-gaps and his team, like Georgia’s, has way too much speed at linebacker to run wide consistently on them.

So what do these Dawgs do? In the running game, that means running stretch-type plays that are still quick hitters, just outside the tackles. What this requires is walling off Alabama interior linemen, not a simple assignment but a necessary one.

With this, you pull an offensive lineman to become a  lead blocker and use a tight end or slot receiver to motion away from where the play is being run, to influence a Bama linebacker to keep him from attacking. He could either run himself out of the play or be blocked in the hole. The Georgia goal is 4 YPC, not the 2.5 the Crimson Tide permits.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett IV had two interceptions against Saban’s defense a little over a month ago and was anxious early. Bennett will need a calmer demeanor from the start. In the last matchup, he wisely used 6’4, 230-pound freshman tight end, Brock Bowers, for 139 yards on 10 receptions.

Saban and his coaches will look to limit Bowers this time around, however, he could work as a decoy to use on underneath routes or set up deeper throws, with the idea of forcing an Alabama safety to add coverage, setting up one-on-one coverage for Georgia wideouts.

Bennett has to make quick, accurate throws and let his playmakers turn five-yard slants or passes to the flat into first downs or maybe more. The sense is Georgia players have to overcome themselves as much as Alabama. If they attack with precision and gain early confidence they could grab the upper hand. With the Tide’s quick-strike attack, the Bulldogs cannot let up an instant.

How Smart’s squad wins the national championship and becomes the right choice for college football picks is pressuring Bama to get off their schedule like Texas A&M and Auburn did and see how they react.

Alabama was an underdog in the last game and again in this one for a reason, Georgia has to show why they deserved to be the favorite.

NCAAF Pick: Georgia -3 (-105) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Georgia -3 (-105)
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