The SEC Championship game is just days away with the Alabama Crimson Tide taking on the Georgia Bulldogs at 4 p.m. ET on CBS this Saturday.
The showdown in Atlanta will match two impressive defenses, but the story of the day will be offense for these two schools. Both the Tide and Bulldogs have put together formidable offenses that rely on the proficiency of their quarterbacks and a consistent ground game.
Expect an offensive-heavy game when these two teams square off. It may sound odd to say that this game will be won by offense, but these five keys show why points will be abundant on Saturday.
When SEC football is discussed, defense is the key to the conversation. This year, A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray have shifted the conversation to offense heading into this week’s championship game.
Through 12 games this year, Aaron Murray leads the country in passing efficiency with a 177.15 quarterback rating. A.J. McCarron is just steps behind at No. 2 with a 176.26 mark.
These quarterbacks are the most consistent signal-callers in the country. They make the right reads on a regular basis for their teams and guide their offenses with masterful skill—the numbers show that.
Both will face tough tests in the Georgia Dome this weekend, but everything points to them having solid performances for their respective teams. The first quarterback that falters will likely hand the win to his opponent.
When the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide take the field on Saturday, the ground game will be a focus for both offenses. These teams rely on a balanced attack to provide consistent offensive production.
Alabama and Georgia are similar in how they approach the ground game. Both teams use a tandem of backs to produce yardage and provide a 1-2 punch to defenses.
Georgia has relied on two freshmen—Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley—to provide its dangerous ground attack. The two have combined for 1,858 yards and 22 touchdowns. They also average over 6.5 yards per carry.
The Crimson Tide have put junior Eddie Lacy and true freshman T.J. Yeldon to work this fall. They have combined for 1,848 yards and 24 touchdowns. They also combine for over six yards a carry.
These two tandems are scary close in production this year and should provide much of the same on Saturday. Expect triple digit yardage from both ground games this weekend.
The quarterback play for these two teams has been off the charts this year, but the receivers will be a fun position set to watch come Saturday.
Alabama has battled injuries at the position all season, but it has consistently found playmakers to step up and fill voids left behind by injuries. Amari Cooper has been a freshman sensation for the Tide, leading the team in catches, yardage and touchdowns this year.
Add in the play of tight end Michael Williams and the dangerous Eddie Lacy from the backfield, and Alabama has enough options to keep the Bulldogs defense at bay.
The Bulldogs have also dealt with the injury bug at receiver, but Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell have been able to provide Georgia with consistency on the outside. Both have caught over 30 passes this fall, and have combined for 12 touchdown receptions.
The defenses that will take the field on Saturday are among the nation’s elite at every position.
The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide have stud front line play and All-American talent at linebacker this year. Even the secondaries of both teams are among the nation’s best.
While the defensive backfields are littered with NFL talent, they tend to give up a few big plays per game.
Alabama is the No. 3 team in the country in pass defense, and Georgia is No. 9 in the same category. These teams have consistently put offenses on lockdown, but every now and again a big play drops through.
Tennessee is a common opponent for both these teams. The Vols were able to hit two passes over 40 yards against the Tide, and one over 60 on the Bulldogs. Tennessee also finished with over 200 yards passing in both games.
While these secondaries are good, big plays will happen. Whoever gives up one too many will walk away with the loss.
While these teams have been impressive statistically on defense, they have been limited in their exposure to elite offensive play.
Texas A&M has the best offense that Alabama has faced all season, and a loss came with that matchup. LSU has struggled to find consistency on offense, but against Alabama, Zach Mettenberger and Co. looked like barn burners.
For Georgia, the real offensive tests came against Tennessee and South Carolina. The Vols got scary-close to a win, and South Carolina thumped the Bulldogs 35-7 on the road.
Alabama and Georgia will field two of the nation’s best defensive units, but the lack of exposure to big-play offense—and struggles that came when they did face good offenses—is a sign that this should be a high scoring affair on Saturday.