Georgia vs. Alabama: Key Storylines for College Football Championship 2022

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2022

Georgia vs. Alabama: Key Storylines for College Football Championship 2022

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    The college football world may be getting tired of the SEC's dominance, but there's still a lot of intrigue to be found in a rematch like Georgia vs. Alabama with the title on the line.

    For all but one game this season, the Bulldogs were the most dominant team in college football. The defense put up historic numbers and dominated week in and week out.

    Alabama has become synonymous with dominance, but every now and then it has one of those seasons when it loses a game it should win, doesn't look perfect in a few victories and the eulogies start coming out for the Bama dynasty.

    Then the Crimson Tide turn things around and get right back into the same spot: vying for a title.

    This has been another one of those years. They struggled against Auburn and LSU teams that weren't up to their usual standard and lost to Texas A&M. Then they turned it on when it mattered most and put up 41 on the vaunted Dawgs defense.

    The result is a CFP National Championship with plenty of interesting storylines. Here are the three that will determine the outcome of the game.

Can Stetson Bennett Elevate His Game?

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    There's a common thread in just about every loss during the Nick Saban era at Alabama: It takes a great performance from your quarterback to slay this particular giant.

    Sometimes it's been an elite quarterback like Deshaun Watson, Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence. Other times it has been a good quarterback who catches fire, such as Chad Kelly throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in 2015.

    Either way, you don't typically beat this team without a stellar performance from your signal-caller.

    The question is whether Stetson Bennett can join that list of quarterbacks. With Alabama holding the Georgia run game to 3.6 yards a carry, they were forced to rely on Bennett to move the ball in the SEC Championship Game. He threw for 340 yards, but that came with two interceptions that proved to be costly.

    If Georgia is going to win the rematch, it's going to be in part because they got a better effort from Bennett.

Can the Bulldogs Slow Down Jameson Williams?

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    Jameson Williams was another major factor in the first game. With Georgia jumping out to a 10-0 lead, his 67-yard touchdown catch got Alabama on the board and swung the momentum.

    That's not a fluke. Williams is the best big-play receiver in the country. He's had more touchdowns of more than 40 yards than the whole Georgia offense combined.

    Georgia did not seem to have an answer for the Ohio State transfer, and it isn't as though they are going to get faster from then to now.

    What has changed is Alabama's depth at receiver. John Metchie III played a major role in their receiving corps this season, leading the Crimson Tide in receptions and making it hard for teams to give too much help over the top against Williams.

    With Metchie out of the national championship game with an ACL injury, there is hope for the Bulldogs. They could ostensibly focus more on Williams and at least force him to earn his yards in the intermediate game.

Can Alabama Win in the Trenches Again?

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    It's not a well-kept secret that this Alabama offensive line is not the sort of All-World unit we are used to seeing in Tuscaloosa.

    The Tide were just 65th in yards per carry in the run game. They were 110th in the nation in sacks allowed. Quarterback Bryce Young had a great season, but he absorbed the majority of the 37 sacks they gave up as a unit.

    That struggling group didn't show up in the first Georgia game. Granted, the run game was still stifled, but Young wasn't sacked as he carved up the Georgia secondary.

    Against Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl Classic, the physicality of the line was a major asset. The unit cleared the way for 301 yards on 47 carries. However, the Bearcats sacked Young twice, and the group looked like it could be a liability in pass protection once again.

    So with a shot at redemption for Georgia, the offensive line play is going to be pivotal. It's true on both sides of the ball, but Alabama has been particularly unpredictable in that way.

    If Georgia can hold the advantage here, they could be in position for the victory. If Alabama's big men once again play at their best, they will be difficult to beat.