This post is from the blog "Coming for Herbstreit's Job"
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Let’s gooooo! It is finally here. After an incredible season, we are left with the Dawgs and the Tide. Alabama will be making its third appearance in the Natty in 3 years. On the other hand, Georgia hasn’t won the ship since 1980. I can’t help but feel like there’s a very Star Wars-esk storyline going into this game. The Evil Empire (Alabama) against the Rebellion (Georgia). The underDawgs (pun intended) will have their work cut out for them. I’m hoping this analogy makes more sense as we go on, but regardless, you know I couldn’t leave you with no fire for the biggest game of the year. For the last time in the 2018 season, sit down, be humble, and get this new heat as I break down the key matchups in this year’s National Championship game.
Nick Saban vs Kirby Smart
This may seem like an obvious matchup, but it’s deeper than the surface (shoutout Drake). Smart served as Saban’s right hand man for 7 seasons at Alabama. He ran the defense for the Crimson Tide during some of their most dominant years (5 National titles). Now, the two meet on the biggest stage in college football. The master and the padawan. If there’s anyone who knows what makes Saban tick, it’s Kirby Smart. As a result, I would look for the Tide to have a few tricks up their sleeve. Maybe it’s a trick play, maybe it’s a new formation, maybe it’s something in the kicking game. I just think that Saban is going to try and mix it up to keep his edge and show Smart he’s still the Sith lord of college football. It is also worth mentioning that Nick Saban is 11-0 against his former assistant coaches. The man has yet to take an L from anyone who called him, “boss.” Either he’s due, or simply untouchable when it comes to playing against his pupils.
Jalen Hurts vs the Georgia Secondary
This is a sneaky one. Jalen Hurts has done exactly what has Alabama has asked of him this season. Be smart, hand it off, and make the big throw when needed. Hurts has one of the best touchdown to interception ratios in the country (17-1). The man does not turn it over often. On the other sideline, you’ve got a Georgia secondary who’s top 10 in the country in terms of pass defense (167 yards allowed per game). To me, this is going to be a crucial matchup as to which team is able to establish momentum. If Hurts is able to be effective with his arm and convert third and long, Alabama is going to be able to be more diverse in their offensive attack and keep a talented Georgia defense on their toes. However, if Georgia can neutralize the pass game and force Alabama to run it on 3rd and 4, that will allow the Dawgs to cut it loose, and give guys like Roquan Smith the freedom to swarm to the ball. This will be the difference between Alabama extending drives or Georgia getting off the field on third down.
Georgia’s Stable of Backs vs Alabama’s Front 7
In my eyes, this is the most crucial matchup of the game. Georgia has made their money on the ground the entire season. They have average 267 rushing yards per contest (8th in all of the land). With that said, Alabama is tops in the country in rush defense (92 yards a game). This is going to be a clash of the titans. The big key here is wether or not Georgia can dictate the tempo of this game with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. If Georgia can get in front of the sticks on first and second down, they will be able to take a lot of the pressure off of, true freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm. However, if the Tide are able to be stout and contain the Dawg’s rushing attack, the game will fall on the shoulders of young Fromm. A 19 year-old quarterback against a hungry Alabama defense is not a recipe for success if you’re Georgia.
All things considered...
This game could go either way. After the Rose Bowl, Georgia is looking like the team of destiny. They kept pace with an explosive Oklahoma team in a shootout and avenged their only loss of the year against Auburn in the SEC championship game. With that said, I think Nick Saban and Alabama are mentally in a much different place than they have been all season. The Tide were considered fortunate ,by many, to even make the playoff. It was apparent, in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson, that the Tide had something to prove. I think the focus that Alabama is playing with right now and the intensity they’re going to bring for this game is, ultimately, going to be too much for a Georgia team battling a Rose Bowl hangover. I like the Tide to Roll in Atlanta and Saban to capture his 6th national title.
Alabama 31 Georgia 14
I’ll keep it brief. It has been an exceptional season for Coming for Herbstreit's Job (CFHJ). We have been fortunate enough to make some great partners in Slope Media Group, and most recently, No Huddle Sports. Thank you to everyone who has come along for the ride. The season is ending, but the party is just getting started. We have some great content in store for y’all and we’re excited to deliver the heat, personally. With that said, enjoy the magic of college football one last time. We aren’t going anywhere. Have a great day kids, now go outside and play.
“Smile my boy, it’s sunrise.” -Robin Williams, Night at the Museum 3