X

Alabama vs. Georgia 2018: TV Schedule, Start Time for CFP Championship

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2018

Georgia running back Nick Chubb will battle Alabama's stout rushing defense in a marquee College Football Playoff National Championship matchup.
Georgia running back Nick Chubb will battle Alabama's stout rushing defense in a marquee College Football Playoff National Championship matchup.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Alabama and Georgia have plenty in common despite taking diverging paths to Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship.

After barely sneaking into the four-team tournament's final spot, the Crimson Tide stuffed Clemson's explosive offense to 188 total yards in a 24-6 semifinal pummeling. Georgia, on the other hand, outlasted Oklahoma in a 54-48 thriller that required two overtimes.

For all the debate over Alabama's CFP credibility, both SEC squads enter the national title clash with only one loss to Auburn blemishing its record. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs have also each mastered an old-school formula of success by ranking No. 1 and 4 in points allowed and No. 10 and 8 in rushing offense, respectively.

They even both averaged 6.8 yards per offensive play. That common ground is before biting into the made-for-TV storyline of Nick Saban seeking to outwit former assistant Kirby Smart.

Let's sift through all the intrigue this championship showdown has to offer.

       

Date: Monday, Jan. 8

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

TV: ESPN

      

Preview

Nick Saban is leading Alabama into its third consecutive CFP National Championship Game.
Nick Saban is leading Alabama into its third consecutive CFP National Championship Game.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Saban's ability to teach former pupils one more lesson is hardly a secret entering Monday night. As noted by Athlon Sports' Elton Hayes, the Alabama head coach is 11-0 with a 28.7 average margin of victory (427-111) against past assistants.

That eye-popping tidbit, however, does not include any meetings against Smart's Bulldogs. Those games also didn't carry the same stakes or level of competition, as illuminated by WGXA's Mason Prince:

Mason Prince @MasonPrinceTV

FWIW: Saban is 11-0 vs former assistants. However, in years he beat those assistants their collective record was 87-56 or a win % of 60.8%. He beat 2 5-win teams, 1 6-win team, 3 7-win teams and 1 8-win team. Smart and UGA at 13-1 is best record for former asst. Saban has played.

Of course, Smart and Saban also won't risk their bodies hurling for extra yards or lunging for catches in traffic. Per AL.com's Kevin Scarbinsky, Smart playfully reminded everyone that it's "not really about" the two coaches.

"The game's not between Coach Saban and I," he said. "I'd like my chances playing against him in pickup basketball sometimes better than I would in a (football) game possibly because I know who he is. I know what he does. He knows everything that I do and we do."

Fresh off gashing Oklahoma for 326 combined rushing yards and five touchdowns, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will place a greater indent on the championship's outcome. According to SEC Network, no duo has tallied more career rushing yards in FBS history.

Yet if anyone can contain the prolific backfield tandem, it's Alabama. The Crimson Tide have limited opponents to 2.7 yards per rush while forfeiting eight rushing touchdowns in 13 games. Only Michigan State has yielded fewer first downs on the ground. 

A neutralized running attack would put more pressure on Jake Fromm, who also faces a steep challenge against a defense allowing 5.3 yards per pass attempt.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, the freshman quarterback is looking to match a mark held by his upcoming opponent:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Jake Fromm needs one more win to tie Jalen Hurts' record for the most wins by an SEC freshman quarterback. https://t.co/ubUo1WU9wt

The 19-year-old is rolling into Monday's matchup. In his last three games, all road victories, Fromm has completed 48 of 67 passes for 617 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. With a dominant rushing attack and defense giving him less responsibility and cushy leads, he also has never thrown 30 or more passes in a game.

Georgia won't want that to change. Each side will fight to dictate the tempo with handoffs and defensive stops. Having ceded one interception all season, the Bulldogs shouldn't expect to coerce Jalen Hurts into any costly blunders.

The Bulldogs will need one more big showing from Chubb and Michel against Alabama's latest assortment of future first-round picks. While the Crimson Tide should not count on shielding them from the end zone altogether, they will attempt to replicate their Sugar Bowl defensive dominance to earn another national title.

         

Note: All statistics obtained from Sports-Reference.com.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.