College football fans have to wait a few more seasons for a playoff system, but the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia basically serves as a national title play-in game. The winner will likely get to face Notre Dame for the championship.
There will be no shortage of stars on the Georgia Dome field on Saturday. Both rosters are riddled with players who will go on to have successful NFL careers. That said, let's take a look at the most important player for each team in the SEC final.
Alabama: C.J. Mosley
Mosley literally does it all for the Crimson Tide defense. He leads the team in tackles by a wide margin with 92 while also racking up six tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He's the complete package.
His most important task against Georgia will be making sure the Bulldogs' running game never gets off the ground. The Tide must make their offense one-dimensional early. If Georgia is able to strike a balance in the first quarter, the edge Alabama enters with will disappear.
Since the Bulldogs are capable of racking up yards both through the air and on the ground, Mosley's group has to pick its poison. However, given their performances throughout the season, they will have more luck shutting down the running game.
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are both averaging more than six yards per carry. If Mosley can lead the way in keeping them under wraps, Nick Saban will have more options when it comes to pressuring Aaron Murray.
That will put Alabama on a winning track.
Georgia: Aaron Murray
Murray threw three interceptions against Florida in late October, but the Bulldogs found a way to win anyway. Since that point, the talented junior quarterback has thrown 13 touchdowns and no interceptions to help Georgia secure a spot in Saturday's game.
There will be a lot of eyes on him to see how he handles the pressure. His two worst performances of the season—by far—came in his team's two biggest games against South Carolina and Florida. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes in those games with four picks.
You can bet Alabama's defensive coaches have watched those game tapes multiple times since Saturday to see how to rattle him. Having a defense that ranks first in both points and yards allowed certainly makes game-planning easier as well.
It's up to Murray to elevate his game. He enters the contest on quite a roll and has the football IQ to unlock the secret of the Tide defense, but hasn't shown up in big moments this season. Handling the pressure will be the biggest key for him.
If Murray continues to perform like he has over the past month, Georgia will be in great shape.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!