An all-SEC national championship game is not only a testament to how strong the conference is, but a better example of just how good both the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs are.
Both schools have spent time ranked No. 1 at different points this season, and narrowly missed an in-season matchup with each other. There’ll be no avoiding their showdown on Jan. 8 for the national championship title, as the two teams collide for the first time since 2015. Who wins? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this championship question.
Green: Georgia’s running game showed just how reputable they were by stomping all over Oklahoma in a 54-48 win last week. With the tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, Georgia rushed for more than 300 yards, churning out multiple big gains and playing the type of power football required to win a national title. Alabama’s defense obviously poses a different challenge than Oklahoma, but the Bulldogs defense isn’t too shabby either. Georgia finished sixth in the nation in defense this past season, adding a ferocious defensive unit to a heavy power run game, the same principles that Alabama has used to great success over the last decade. If there’s any team better equipped to stop the bully that is the Crimson Tide, it’s Georgia.
Riley: Georgia is outfitted to beat any team in the nation, but you’re already chasing your tail if you’re squaring off against the Tide with a freshman quarterback. Bulldogs signal-caller Jake Fromm is a true freshman and hasn’t been asked to do much this season, but will need his best game of the year to beat Alabama. That could be asking for too much too soon from the first year starter. The Tide can feast off freshman quarterbacks, so their defense is going to sit back and let Georgia try to power-run their way to a national title. After being embarrassed in last year’s title game by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Alabama will have extra motivation to correct those mishaps. They won’t let another quarterback, and a freshman at that, stand in their way.
Green: Watson’s heroics during his college days helped terrorize the Tide in back-to-back BCS games. While Watson isn’t playing in this year’s title game, he proved that Alabama are human, and that will help Georgia’s confidence going into this game. The Bulldogs aren’t the total one-man show that Watson’s Clemson-led teams were, and they will pose a few different challenges to Alabama’s aggressive defense. Georgia can beat you in so many different ways, from their running game to their defense, and poses a different type of threat than the Tide’s other opponents. They’ve won back-to-back games against the No. 2 ranked team in the country, topping Auburn on Dec. 2 and Oklahoma on Jan. 1. They’re equipped, ready and unafraid of the big, bad Crimson Tide.
Riley: The Tide are considered big and bad for a reason: they’ve earned it. They’ve been the most dominant team in college football for years, and they’ve made a living off fielding defensive units comprised of high draft picks. With head coach Nick Saban as their architect, Alabama’s defensive units don’t falter to inexperienced quarterbacks, especially in bowl games. Georgia has a strong team, but watch the play of freshman Fromm closely. If Alabama can rattle him and pressure him off his game, then the Tide will roll, again.