Most folks have already penciled in the Alabama Crimson Tide as the opponent for Notre Dame in the national championship game. The Tide are coming in as a 7.5 point favorite (via Covers.com). They've spent a large amount of the season as the No. 1 ranked team, so it's pretty much a done deal.
As Lee Corso would ecstatically say, not so fast!
Alabama deserves to be favored in this game, it has showed that it is an elite team. However this is by no means a done deal. Georgia could very well pull off the upset and be playing Brian Kelly's Notre Dame squad for the national championship.
The Bulldogs have earned the right to be respected by their SEC West counterpart. After all, there's a reason they've made it this far. Winning the SEC East is no small feat. Here's why this game won't be a walk in the park for Alabama.
Looking at both team's schedules, there isn't much separating Alabama from Georgia in terms of accomplishments this season.
The Bulldogs have a signature win over a Florida team that was ranked No. 2 at the time. The Bulldogs beat the Gators 17-9 at a neutral location. Compared to Alabama's 21-17 win over No. 5 LSU, there's a case to be made that the Bulldog's own the better signature win.
Aside from pointing out each team's best win, both teams finished the season with the exact same 11-1 mark, and both finished with their loss coming in conference play.
You can point out that Alabama had the better loss—getting edged out by a rising Texas A&M team while Georgia was trounced 35-7 against South Carolina, but a loss is a loss and both teams rebounded nicely after being defeated.
The two teams' schedules aren't as far apart as one might think given Bama's favored status.
A lot is made about Alabama's defense and personnel, but Georgia has good personnel of its own.
In fact, Georgia will have the best defensive player in this game in Jarvis Jones.
The outside linebacker has established himself as a dominant presence on the outside and is a lock to battle with Manti Te'o as the most hyped defensive prospect in the 2013 NFL draft. With 10.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss this season, Jones has lived in opponents' backfields all year.
Jones is the type of player that forces coaches to game-plan around him. Even Alabama's offensive line will have a difficult time accounting for him on every play and he could be a huge difference maker.
On offense, the Bulldogs boast another player with NFL-caliber talent—quarterback Aaron Murray is having a tremendous season and possesses the tools to challenge the Alabama defense.
Alabama is Beatable
Last season it seemed like the Crimson Tide were unbeatable.
Even in their 9-6 loss to the LSU Tigers, Alabama's four missed field goals cast doubt over the legitimacy of the loss. Outside of that performance the Tide steamrolled a schedule that was much more difficult than the one they've navigated this season.
This year the Tide have been dominant, though with a much more present sense of mortality.
The ranked foes that Alabama have played include Michigan and Mississippi State. Both teams have underwhelmed compared to the ranking they had when Alabama beat them.
In Alabama's two most recent games against ranked opponents, Texas A&M and LSU, they were put in positions where they could have lost.
Alabama will once again be favored, but there's no reason to think that the Bulldogs aren't capable of putting the Tide in danger of losing their right to play in the national championship.