Sports Talk With Saurav: Alabama vs. Georgia—Who will take the CFP throne?

by Saurav Tewari, Sports Columnist

As another year of college football comes to a close, the stage has been set for the College Football National Championship showdown. And surprise, surprise, the two teams facing each other are the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and University of Georgia Bulldogs. Last Friday, Alabama suffocated Cincinnati 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl Classic, while Georgia rolled Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl. Today’s game will be Alabama’s sixth national title appearance in seven seasons — impressive and expected from a team led by Nick Saban that recruits the top high school talent year after year. Coach Kirby Smart is at the helm of a Georgia team that has consistently been among the best teams in the nation every year despite being in a decades-long title drought.

In a year headlined by the pandemic, even football powerhouse Alabama hasn’t looked as dominant as previous years. With a record of 13-1, ‘Bama’s sole loss came against an unranked Texas A&M team that came into the match as a heavy underdog. The Crimson Tide also barely escaped with a victory over an unranked Florida team that finished with a 6-7 record, while surviving late-game comebacks against Arkansas and Auburn. Even though this year’s team may seem less reliable, ‘Bama fans should not be too concerned after the team’s convincing victories over strong Mississippi State and Ole Miss teams. The nickname Ole Miss refers to the University of Mississippi, which has generated controversy in recent years because some allege the nickname has racial undertones, while others believe its racial past has been shredded. 

Perhaps most importantly, Alabama already convincingly beat Georgia 41-24 in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) title game on Dec. 4. ‘Bama’s high-powered offense, which currently ranks 3rd in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) scoring an average of 41.4 points per game, showed out as sophomore quarterback Bryce Young threw for over 400 yards. However, the receiving core (the wide receivers and tight ends on the team) took a big hit after leading receiver John Metchie III suffered a knee injury. A shift away from the passing game shouldn’t hurt ‘Bama too much. Against Cincinnati, the Crimson Tide relied heavily on running back Brian Robinson Jr., who rushed for nearly 200 yards as Alabama cruised to an easy victory. This versatility in offensive gameplan can only help ‘Bama against a strong Bulldog defense.

For Georgia, it’s the defense that has been impressive this season. Almost every Bulldog receiver and tight end has missed games throughout the year, but the defense has performed consistently, helping the Dawgs to a 12-0 record. The SEC title game, in which the ‘Bama offense exploded for 41 points, was a wakeup call for the Bulldogs. The loss was just a hurdle for Georgia, as the defense returned to form against Michigan, holding them to just three points in the first half. Their defense needs to maintain stifling play and show up in a big way on the biggest stage in college football. 

Even though the Crimson Tide blew out the Bulldogs in the title game, this game won’t have the same result. Georgia knows the type of explosiveness they are dealing with and has nine days to prepare a counter. Alabama’s versatility with the running game, which they showed against Cincinnati, could be the difference-maker if their passing game is stifled. Looking at the two teams’ past history, I don’t think this game will break Saban’s 4-0 record against Kirby. I predict the Rolling Tide will narrowly escape with a 30-27 victory over their SEC rivals—the 19th national title in program history. Look for Georgia to jump out to an early lead, followed by Alabama evening the gap and running up the scoreboard. Georgia will make a valiant effort at a comeback, but Alabama ultimately will come away with the victory.