Alabama Football: Why Bulldogs Should Be Favored over Tide in SEC Championship
The SEC title game is less than a week away with the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide squaring off in Atlanta on CBS at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide are favored to win the game, but the Bulldogs are the team that should earn the Vegas nod heading into this game. As it stands, they are seven-point underdogs.
Georgia has put together one of the most efficient and balanced offenses in the country this season, and it is playing lights-out on defense. The Bulldogs have the BCS title game in their sights, and these five ways are how they get there.
Aaron Murray Will Light Up the Tide Secondary
Aaron Murray has worked himself into elite quarterback status this season leading the country in passing efficiency through the regular season. Murray has a rating of 177.15 heading into the SEC title game.
Through the first 12 games Murray has accounted for 30 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. He has four games with over 300 yards and one game over 400 this season. There have been down games, but his overall performance has been among the best in the country.
The Crimson Tide secondary has faced only one quarterback that has been as dangerous as Murray this year, and his name was Johnny Manziel. Manziel led the Texas A&M Aggies to the only win against Alabama in the regular season.
Expect similar results against the Tide secondary to come this Saturday with Murray leading the charge. This will be the toughest air attack that Alabama has faced all year.
“Gurshall” Will Bring Offensive Balance
Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley have formed one of the most dangerous running back tandems in the country this year. The two freshmen burst onto the seen this year rushing for a combined 1,858 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Both backs are also averaging over 6.5 yards per carry.
Alabama has been extremely potent against the run, but Georgia won’t need 200-plus rushing yards to win the game. If Marshall and Gurley can combine for over 100 yards and one score, it should be enough to balance the attack and keep Murray upright.
Key Injuries Mounting for Alabama
Against nearly every team they have faced this fall, the Tide has relied on impressive play from their receivers to create mismatches and big plays. Without the ability to work the deep routes against Georgia, Alabama becomes one-dimensional.
Last weekend against Auburn, the Tide lost their third receiver of the year to injury. Kenny Bell fell to a broken leg, hurting the possible production for Alabama’s passing game in Atlanta this Saturday.
Amari Cooper has also been battling a nagging ankle injury since the LSU game.
With Bell now out, true freshman Chris Black should see time. He hasn’t played a down all year and will get his first snaps against Georgia if they come.
The Georgia secondary is a stingy unit that plays hard and fast on every down. Without key contributors on the outside, Bama will be hurting for production and offensive balance giving the Bulldogs an edge in the title matchup.
Jarvis Jones and Co. Dance in Bama Backfield
Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are projected first-round picks in the 2013 NFL draft and for good reason. They have combined for 158 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. They are the most dangerous linebacker duo in the country.
Against Alabama. Jones and Ogletree will lead the Bulldogs defense to a dominant performance. The Crimson Tide have not faced a team with a complete defense all season.
The Bulldogs will find success getting to A.J. McCarron and will be able to neutralize the play-action game. If Alabama doesn’t hit big on a fly route or two early in the game, Georgia will be able to pin their ears back and bring consistent pressure creating major issues for the Tide.
Striking While the Iron Is Hot
Both Alabama and Georgia have played well throughout the year, but the Bulldogs are the hot team in college football right now.
Georgia has won its last four games by a score of 162-34. The Bulldogs are on a tear. They defeated Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.
The Tide finished the year playing LSU, Texas A&M, Western Carolina and Auburn. A loss came to Texas A&M, and a final drive was needed to beat LSU. Alabama has outscored its final opponents 148-41.
The stats and momentum favor the Bulldogs, and they will have the season-ending momentum in their favor. Being the hot team matters in games like these, and right now fortune favors the Dogs.