Alabama vs. Georgia: Keys to Victory for Both Teams in SEC Title Game
With the exception of the Discover BCS National Championship Game, today's showdown between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia with the SEC title on the line is arguably the most highly anticipated tilt of the 2012 college football season.
And for good reason.
That's because the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide will not only be playing for SEC bragging rights, they'll be going head-to-head for a spot in the BCS national title game against Notre Dame on January 7.
With both teams coming off decisive victories over hated rivals last weekend, Georgia and Alabama look to be at their best heading into this afternoon's game, and emotions will obviously be running high from the opening kickoff.
Here's a look at the keys to victory for both teams for today's all-important game.
Georgia: A Big Game out of Aaron Murray
It's no secret that Alabama's defense is one of the nation's best, but Georgia's Aaron Murray has all the tools to put points on the board against Nick Saban's vaunted defensive unit.
Murray, who enters the game with a nation's best 177.1 QB rating, has been on fire as of late with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four games.
He has a pair of talented targets in Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell, and as we saw during Alabama's only loss of the season, getting production through the air is the only way to beat the Tide.
Against Texas A&M, Alabama was unable to contain Johnny Manziel, who threw for two touchdowns and 253 yards on 24-31 passing, lifting the Aggies to a 29-24 win.
In order for the Bulldogs to pull of the upset over Alabama, Murray won't necessarily have to outplay AJ McCarron, but he will have to limit his turnovers and throw for at least a pair of touchdowns, and receive a strong performance from Todd Gurley in the backfield.
Alabama: Continue to Dominate on Defense, Get Sufficient Contributions on Offense
On the defensive side of the ball, the Crimson Tide has lived up to expectations, as they rank first in the nation in points against, allowing just over nine points per game.
In order for the Tide to get back to the BCS title game, they'll need to contain Georgia's offensive stars in Murray and Gurley, because Alabama's chances at winning will decrease significantly if the game turns into a shootout.
However, even if Alabama dominates on defense, the Tide will need McCarron to play much better than he did against Texas A&M and LSU earlier this month.
In the Texas A&M game, McCarron did pass for over 300 yards, but also threw two picks. He'll have to take better care of the football Saturday afternoon.
McCarron will have a more difficult time generating offense through the air without Kenny Bell, one of his top receivers, on the field as Bell broke his leg against Auburn last weekend.
If we learned anything about Georgia during its tilt against then-No. 6 South Carolina, the Bulldogs' only loss of the season, it's that the Gamecocks won the game by moving the chains both through the air and on the ground.
If Alabama's defense plays up to its potential and gets sufficient contributions out of McCarron and backfield threats Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, the Tide will take home their first SEC Championship since 2009.
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