In what is perhaps the game of the year in terms of the College Football Playoff, No. 2 Alabama hosts No. 3 Georgia for what looks to be a heavyweight matchup in the SEC. Both teams enter Saturday’s primetime showdown undefeated and ranked in the top-3 of the AP Poll with eyes on a spot in the playoff and a potential national title. This primetime battle will go a long way in determining the College Football Playoff race.
Georgia Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide
Date: Saturday, October 17 – 8:00 PM ET
Odds: Alabama -5.5
Georgia got off to a slow start to the season in the first half against Arkansas, trailing the Razorbacks 7-5 at halftime in the season opener, but since then Bulldogs have been lights out, coming back to beat Arkansas 37-10 and following that with a pair three-touchdown victories against ranked opponents Auburn and Tennessee.
A big reason for Georgia’s success has been former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett, who replaced a struggling Dwan Mathis as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback in the season-opener against Arkasnas. In 10 quarters of action, Bennett has completed 53 of 84 passes for 689 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. With Bennett throwing to leading receivers Kearis Jackson and George Pickens, the Bulldogs’ passing attack is clicking on all cylinders, just in time to face a struggling Alabama secondary. The ground game is coming along, as well, with true freshman Kendall Milton earning himself more carries as the team’s most efficient rusher.
But make no mistake, the main reason for Georgia’s dominance this season has been its defense. Through three games, the Bulldogs have allowed just 12.3 points per game and 236.7 yards per game – the nation’s best outside of Houston, which has played just one game this season. The Georgia defense is among the stingiest in the country and will keep them in any game until the final whistle.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama entered the season once again as one of the most talented football teams in the country boasting five-star talent and future NFL players all over the field, and that’s been extremely evident on the offensive side of the ball.
Junior quarterback Mac Jones has emerged as a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender, throwing for 1,101 yards and eight touchdowns with a lone interception through just three games this season. Jones has been aided in no small part by a pair of potential first-round picks in Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, both of whom have over 300 yards receiving on the season. The Tide also boast one of the nation’s top running backs in Najee Harris, who has 347 yards and 10 touchdowns on 52 carries – averaging nearly a touchdown every five rushing opportunities.
On the defensive side of the ball, however, it’s been a different story. The Tide ranks just 116 out of 130 FBS teams in total defense, allowing an average of 473 yards per game. Just last week, Alabama got shredded by Ole Miss for 647 yards and 48 points. While the offense has been elite, the defense has been remarkably porous. Against a well-rounded team, that could spell trouble for the Tide.
Through three games, Georgia has been by far the more well-rounded team despite facing better competition, and yet the Bulldogs enter the game as an underdog. Take Georgia and the points; the wrong team is favored in this game.
Pick: Georgia +5.5