Winner of Alabama-Georgia game will play for national championsh - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Winner of Alabama-Georgia game will play for national championship

Georgia center David Andrews hubs an offensive line that will face Alabama's tough defensive line. (Source: Wes Blankenship) Georgia center David Andrews hubs an offensive line that will face Alabama's tough defensive line. (Source: Wes Blankenship)
Alabama All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley is the leading tackler on Alabama's defense. (Source: Alabama Athletics Communication) Alabama All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley is the leading tackler on Alabama's defense. (Source: Alabama Athletics Communication)
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is the best pass rusher in the SEC. (Source: Wes Blankenship) Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is the best pass rusher in the SEC. (Source: Wes Blankenship)
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy is a big, physical tailback who leads the Crimson Tide in rushing. (Source: Alabama Athletics Communications) Alabama running back Eddie Lacy is a big, physical tailback who leads the Crimson Tide in rushing. (Source: Alabama Athletics Communications)
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(RNN) - The Southeastern Conference Championship game is the biggest sports show in America this weekend.

The SEC has produced the national champion each of the past six years and Saturday's clash between Alabama and Georgia, each with one loss, amounts to a national semifinal game. The winner will play No. 1 Notre Dame in Miami's Sun Life Stadium on Jan. 7 for the BCS National Championship

Saturday's game at the Georgia Dome is the hottest ticket in Atlanta. Scalpers are getting about $1,500 each for good seats, while nosebleeds are going for about $300. Alabama's a 7-point favorite.

This will be the 22nd SEC Championship game, and Bama and UGA have 13 trips between them. Alabama, the defending national champion, has played in eight league championships. Georgia has been there five times. Alabama has won three times, Georgia twice.

The teams are much alike this year. Both are 11-1 against schedules of questionable difficulty. Alabama appears to have the better defense, Georgia may be a little better on offense. But even that is debatable.

Both teams have steady QBs – Georgia's Aaron Murray is ranked first in the nation in efficiency, Alabama's AJ McCarron is second. Both have an outstanding tandem of running backs, Georgia's wide receivers are a little more productive, Alabama's offensive line is more physical, but Georgia's has played well enough to win.

Georgia's defense will try to keep Alabama from driving on offense, controlling the clock and keeping Georgia's explosive offense off the field.

Georgia's offense will have to figure out ways to score on Alabama's defense, which allows only 9.7 points per game.

Momentum seems to favor Georgia.

The Bulldogs have reeled off six straight wins since a humbling 35-7 loss to league foe South Carolina. Alabama, after appearing unbeatable in its first seven games, looked vulnerable in November in a comeback win over LSU and a home loss to Texas A&M.

It is cliche to say that games are won in the trenches. This one will be. Two physical teams with almost identical styles of play will see who can knock who off the ball.

Alabama offense vs. Georgia defense

Alabama's center, Barrett Jones, won the Outland Trophy last year as the best offensive lineman in the country at left tackle. He moved to center this year and is a finalist for the same award. He'll face Georgia's mountainous nose guard, John Jenkins (6'3", 358), who has a habit of pushing passing pockets back into quarterbacks' faces and clogging up the middle so his amazing linebackers can make tons of tackles.

If Jones can handle Jenkins on his own and not require double-team help, Alabama will be able to devote All-American guard Chance Warmack and company to attack inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and establish an inside running game. Alabama's offense starts with the run, and Georgia's defense is giving up 163 yards per game on the ground, 11th in the SEC.

Big, physical running back Eddie Lacy anchors the Crimson Tide ground game while freshman T.J. Yeldon is a more elusive runner who is also effective catching passes out of the backfield.

If Alabama establishes its run game, Georgia is in trouble. If Alabama has to rely on the pass, it may be in trouble.

Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones is the best rushing linebacker in the league, and how Bama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio handles Jones will tell a lot in whether Alabama can throw on Georgia.

Georgia runs a 3-4 defense  – exactly what Alabama runs – and Georgia's defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, was an assistant coach for Alabama head coach Nick Saban when Saban coached at Michigan State. Grantham spent 11 years in the NFL as a defensive coach, much like Saban did.

If Grantham can shut his old boss's offense down, Georgia will be celebrating Saturday night.

Georgia offense vs. Alabama defense

Like Alabama, Georgia has an enviable one-two punch at tailback. The Bulldogs feature two amazing freshman running backs in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

Georgia's pair has combined for 1,858 yards and 22 touchdowns. Lacy and Yeldon combined for 1,848 yards and 24 TDs.

Gurley has 1,138 yards by himself – second in the league.

Against Florida – the most Alabama-like of all Georgia's opponents – Gurley got 118 yards and scored a TD in a 17-9 win. The other TD came when QB Aaron Murray found Malcolm Mitchell with a 45-yard scoring strike.

Georgia built a quick lead, the defense snuffed Florida's rush offense and forced the Gators into costly turnovers. The same formula would work against Alabama if the Bulldogs can win the line of scrimmage.

Georgia's offensive line has been hobbled by injuries, moved players around, and done what they had to do to win. They'll be tested by Alabama nose Jesse Williams, a dominating presence in the middle, and a flock of talented linebackers led by All-American C.J. Mosley.

The Bulldogs offensive front will have to create opportunities for the running backs against Alabama, which allows just 77 yards per game on the ground.

Murray is an outstanding passer, and can loosen up Alabama by spreading the field and throwing. Flanker Tavarres King is a big-play threat with eight TDs and a receiving average of 20.7 yards per catch.

Georgia receivers Marlon Brown and Michel Bennett are sidelined with injuries, putting the Dawgs at a disadvantage against All-America cornerback Dee Milliner and the rest of a deep, talented secondary.

Against Florida, Georgia struck first and sat on its lead. In Alabama's loss to Texas A&M, the Aggies broke out to a 20-0 lead before Alabama got untracked.

Look for Georgia to try to start fast.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved. 

 

  • WAVE 3 Online Poll

  • Who do you think will win the national championship?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Alabama
    68%
    111 votes
    Georgia
    15%
    25 votes
    Notre Dame
    17%
    27 votes
  • SEC FootballSEC CoverageMore>>

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