The Alabama Crimson Tide were bound and determined to demonstrate they belonged in the College Football Playoff when they took on the Clemson Tigers in the semifinals at the Superdome in New Orleans on New Year’s Day.
CFP National Championship 2018
Alabama vs Georgia Live
Date : 8 January 2018
Start Time: 7:00 pm ET
Venue : Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Place : Atlanta, Georgia
Alabama used its powerful defense to cut down the Tigers 24-6. That win has earned Alabama the opportunity to play for the national championship Monday night against the Georgia Bulldogs.
The All-Southeastern Conference championship final will kick off at 8 p.m. ET from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Alabama is a 3.5-point favorite, according to OddsShark, and the total is 45 points.
While the Crimson Tide were in charge of their game throughout the Sugar Bowl, the Bulldogs were pushed to the limit by the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl. Georgia pulled off two major comebacks that forced the game into overtime, and head coach Kirby Smith’s team pulled off a 54-48 triumph in double overtime.
With one week between the semifinal and the championship game, the Bulldogs may have a difficult time playing at full speed for 60 minutes against the motivated Crimson Tide.
Any team in a championship game has plenty to play for, but Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide were questioned when the four finalists for the CFP were named, and many observers questioned whether Alabama belonged because it did not play for the SEC title.
Alabama had been the No. 1 team in the nation before it lost its regular-season finale to Auburn, and critics who raised that argument failed to give Alabama credit for having one of the four best teams in college football. The Crimson Tide clearly deserved to be there because there were not four teams better than Saban’s team.
Both Alabama and Georgia have strong defensive teams, and the quarterback who can figure out how to attack the opposing defense will have the best chance of winning.
Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts had a fine year, completing 151 of 246 passes for 2,060 yards with 17 touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 808 yards and eight touchdowns.Damien Harris has run for 983 yards and 11 touchdowns, while powerful Bo Scarborough has contributed 573 yards and another eight scores.
When things are going well for the Crimson Tide, they will pummel opponents with a hard-hitting ground game, and Hurts will follow with a passing game that is based on accuracy and avoiding interceptions. Wideout Calvin Ridley is a terrific weapon, and he has caught 59 passes for 935 yards and four touchdowns.
Georgia has a tremendous running game with Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift doing most of the damage. Chubb has run for 1,320 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Michel is an excellent counterpuncher with 1,129 yards and 16 scores. Swift is an aptly named third choice who has used his breakaway speed to contribute 603 yards and three touchdowns.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has exceeded all expectations by completing 63.7 percent of his passes for 2,383 yards with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions. Fromm, a freshman, has shown leadership skills throughout the season.Fromm’s best receiver is Javon Wims, who has caught 44 passes for 704 yards and seven touchdowns.
Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt knows that the Crimson Tide have to slow down Georgia’s ability to dominate with its running game. “The first thing we’re going to talk about is being able to stop the run,” Pruitt said, per David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times. “If you can stop the run, you’ve got a chance to have success.”
Pruitt will be depending on defensive back Ronnie Harrison and linebacker Rashaan Evans to do most of the heavy lifting. Harrison has 70 tackles and three interceptions, while Evans has 66 tackles, 6.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith is a remarkable player who leads the team with 124 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. More than the numbers, Smith rises to the occasion when his team needs a big play.Smith gets plenty of help from defensive back J.R. Reed, who has 76 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defensed.