Georgia vs. Alabama: Latest Comments Ahead of CFP National Championship 2022

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2022

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) runs with the ball during the Cotton Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs will face off for the fifth time since 2018 in Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship Game. 

Alabama is 4-0 in those contests, three of which have been in championship settings. The Crimson Tide won the SEC Championship Game over the Bulldogs in 2018 and 2021 as well as the 2018 National Championship Game. 

Georgia's players are well aware of the challenge that comes with playing Alabama. The stars of the team said they need to win the mental and physical battles, as noted by defensive tackle Jordan Davis: 

College Football Playoff @CFBPlayoff

Media Day with @GeorgiaFootball. #GoDawgs https://t.co/1mC0sJ3bpl

Quarterback Stetson Bennett is arguably the most important player to Georgia's success. The senior was intercepted twice in the SEC Championship Game, but he rebounded with a 313-yard, three-score outing in the Orange Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines. 

During Georgia's media day session on Saturday, the senior did not seem fazed by the pressure that comes with playing quarterback at a high FBS level, per The Athletic's Seth Emerson: 

"I don't know, there's a lot of things that go unsaid from that frustration. I'm not really allowed to say it. It's the nature of the beast. You're the hero or the zero. I'm glad it was me instead of anybody else because I can handle it, because I can just shut it off and tell people to go blah, blah.

"But you just keep your head down and keep working. Trust your teammates to make plays, and you just go play football, the same game you've been playing since you were in little league. Just because more people are talking about it doesn't mean the rules have changed. So just go play."

Bennett's play will be held to a high standard compared to Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who clinched the Heisman Trophy with his performance in the SEC Championship Game. 

Young produced 421 passing yards and three touchdowns on Dec. 4 in Atlanta. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart broke down how tough the matchup against Young is due to his elusiveness.

"We talk about him as Houdini, because he can make people miss," Smart told reporters. "He gets rid of the ball. People don't even account for the number of times this guy has avoided sacks and thrown the ball with no intention of anybody catching it. But he knows where to throw the ball to not take a sack. When you can do that, you're really elite."

Young has three touchdown passes in each of his last two games, and he turned in some of his best performances of the season once November began. 

Alabama head coach Nick Saban talked about the fight his team showed, even in situations where critics doubted the Crimson Tide's potential.

"People even buried this team at times when we didn't play well," Saban told reporters. "A lot of our other teams won going away, so they never had to do things this team did. ... I think Will Anderson said it best a few weeks ago, 'They don't fight like we fight.' ... You do have to respect what the players have done to get to this point. You have to respect the fight and the competitive character they have shown. ... I'm really proud of them for that. I've learned a lot from this team because of that."

Saban comes into Monday with a seven-game winning streak of his own against Georgia and only one loss to a former assistant coach. That defeat happened in October against Jimbo Fisher's Texas A&M Aggies. 

The Crimson Tide have scored 314 points since that defeat. They eclipsed the 40-point mark on five occasions, including the SEC Championship Game. Georgia's lone concession of over 20 points occurred last month to Smart, a former Alabama defensive coordinator, in Atlanta. 

Georgia's defense has been vital to its success all season long. The Bulldogs limited 12 of their 14 opponents to 14 points or less and must improve in the rematch to end their losing streak against Alabama and win their first national title since 1980.

Alabama is going for its fifth national championship of the playoff era. A win would make the Tide the first back-to-back winner of the playoff since the inaugural game in 2015.