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DAWG Preview: SEC Championship #1 Georgia vs #7 Alabama

Georgia and Alabama meet once again in a championship setting this coming Saturday, and with major College Football Playoff implications on the line between the two once again, it oddly feels like we've heard this same old song and dance before because we have. In recent years, Alabama and Georgia have only played in championship settings, the most recent being the 2021-22 National Title game. Alabama has dominated the series though, with Georgia only picking up its first win over the Crimson Tide since 2007 in the aforementioned National Title in January 2022. Alabama holds a 42-26-4 edge over the 72 total meetings.

The tide though (no pun intended) seems to be turning in favor of the Bulldogs, as Georgia won convincingly over the Tide in the 2021-22 title game 33-18, their biggest win against Alabama since 1976. They're also a squad that has been chalked full of NFL-level talent over the last 5 or so years, even surpassing Alabama's pro talent crop over that period. The Dawgs and the Tide once again though find themselves in a must-win, championship setting, so let's break down how this most recent edition of the saga, will go.

Broadcast Info

Date: Saturday, December 2nd, 2023

Time: 4:00 pm EST

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia


Calling: Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson

Radio: ESPN Radio, 95.5 WSB (Georgia), 100.9 FM (Alabama)

Betting Line

Georgia -5.5

Over/Under: 54.5

Tale of the Tape: Georgia

The Georgia Bulldogs are looking to keep their perfect season as well as their chance at the #1 seed in the College Football Playoff alive with a consecutive SEC Championship victory. The Bulldogs have boasted one of the most complete teams in the FBS and have a ton of depth at basically every position, shown by their resolve through injuries suffered by Brock Bowers, Jamon Dumas-Johnson, Ladd McConkey, and others. They have preserved their winning record pretty convincingly, only having the occasional close call like with Missouri, Auburn, or Georgia Tech last weekend. However, those games show that they're vulnerable, and Nick Saban's Alabama knows exactly how to exploit vulnerability. They will need all cylinders firing to win this matchup.

Offensively, Georgia averages around 496.4 yards/game, 6th in the FBS. They've somewhat transitioned through inoffensive styling, going from a fairly balanced, almost run-heavy attack to a little more air-it-out, pass-heavier styling with standout quarterback Carson Beck and his cast of stellar receivers. While they have been dealing with injuries to that receiving corps, key guys such as Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey could very well be good to go for Saturday's matchup, with Bowers "feeling sore but dressed out" according to head coach Kirby Smart in a Sunday presser and McConkey being day-to-day but having limited playing time against Tennessee and no playing time against Georgia Tech. This may be the difference maker, but as said before, Georgia has a ton of depth, especially with their receiving corps, with Dominic Lovett and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint in the fold as well. They should be fine either way, and even if they have to rely more on their run game, it's still very strong with Daijuan Edwards and Kendall Milton being a solid two-headed attack.

Defensively, the Bulldogs also rank high, posting 294.3 average yards allowed and ranking 9th in FBS. Their front seven may not be as strong as in past years but is still formidable with presences such as Smael Mondon Jr., C.J. Allen, and Nazir Stackhouse holding the line. They are backed up by one of the best secondaries in college football right now, allowing just 176.5 average yards per game and forcing 12 interceptions this season. Alabama will have a tough time throwing the ball against this secondary, so it will be on the front seven to pressure Jalen Milroe into making mistakes, as well as containing his abilities on the scramble, and for them to limit Jase McClellan, a good but not great running back.

Tale of the Tape: Alabama

Alabama started the year very slow, not being able to find their rhythm at quarterback and just producing sloppier football than what we're used to seeing normally from the Tide. Dropping one against Texas and having a very close call versus South Florida, they ended up finding their stride and went 11-1, meeting the Bulldogs once again in Atlanta for a championship date. The Tide's games have proven to be closer than Georgia's though, having a few more close calls like their games against Arkansas, Texas A&M, a closer matchup against Tennessee, and of course, their last-second victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl. They haven't faced an opponent anywhere near as tough as Georgia this season, the closest they can compare to being LSU, Ole Miss, and Tennessee, of whom yes, they all beat fairly handy, but don't match the caliber of what Georgia looks like this year. However, the reason Bama won those games with such convincingness is, in theory, because they were more prepared for a better opponent, so that may prove to be the difference maker in this one.

Alabama's offense runs through their star quarterback, Jalen Milroe. The dual-threat QB has thrown for 21 touchdowns and ran for 12 this season, and makes up for 2,965 of Bama's 4,909 total yards, about 60% of their total yardage. Milroe's supporting cast is certainly no slouch though, as receivers Jermaine Burton and Isiah Bond can get open on a whim where Milroe can pinpoint it to them. The Alabama backfield may not be as strong as in years past but still is a force to be reckoned with. Jase McClellan still has wheels and can be very good in the open space. Overall though, Alabama will need to keep Milroe upright and draw up some trickeration to fool this stout Georgia defense. This may not be the Georgia front seven of old, but they can still get in the backfield very quickly if an offensive line allows them to. Alabama's offensive line is starting to become one of the better units in the country, so the battle in the trenches will certainly be one to watch.

Alabama's defense has some great players along the line as well, with potential first-round draft pick Dallas Turner coming off the edge and terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. Getting pressure on Carson Beck will be imperative in slowing down this explosive Georgia pass game, and forcing Beck out of the pocket where he isn't the best scrambler could pay good dividends. Alabama's secondary is not far behind Georgia's either, allowing 184.2 yards passing per game and also grabbing 12 interceptions. Whoever can open up their passing attack more against these two stout secondaries could decide the game, but keeping the ground game contained will also be important as Georgia does still have a two-headed attack that can do damage.

Final Score Prediction - SEC Championship

These two familiar foes are set to have yet another fantastic edition added to their storied rivalry. Both teams are playing at the top of their game right now and know what's at stake, we could see another classic between these two and should be prepared for an all-out slugfest. Alabama has the horses and the firepower to keep up with Georgia, however, if Georgia can be at as full strength as possible come Saturday, this means Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey coming back into the fold among other things, then Georgia should edge this one out. Even then, it will still be decided by just one or two plays, but Georgia will walk out a winner at the end of the day. Dawgs by 3.

Final Score Prediction: Georgia 31-Alabama 28


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