2018 National Championship Game Preview: Georgia vs Alabama

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The Alabama Crimson Tide are set to face the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game on January 8th
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This is the culmination of a journey that began for both of these teams in March. Most experts predicted Alabama to be here. The Crimson Tide have been in this game each of the last two seasons. Georgia is the new dog, so to speak. This is their first appearance in the National Championship game in the playoff era. And, Georgia is trying to win its first championship since 1980.

Live from the heart of SEC country, the National Championship will be held in its brand new home, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. The No. 3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs will go head-to-head against No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide.  On the surface, the championship game may have lost some of its interest nationally with two representatives from the same conference. But, a couple of points come to mind when looking at this match-up. Alabama and Georgia have not played each other this year so there is no rematch factor to consider. Also, with the dynamic of both of these schools, there are plenty of storylines to consider. We have you covered at Last Word on College Football with everything you need to know, including our panel of experts providing predictions for the 2018 National Championship Game:

2018 National Championship Game Preview: Georgia vs. Alabama

What: 2018 National Championship Game

Who: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia (ESPN)

When: Monday, January 8th, 2018 – 8:00 PM EDT

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia (13-1) won the SEC championship and a berth in the College Football Playoffs by way of a rematch defeat of Auburn in the SEC Championship Game, 28-7. Then, they showed championship mettle by coming back from 17 points down to defeat Oklahoma, 54-48 in double overtime.

The thunder and lightning combination of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel has been strong all year, but they flexed their muscles against Oklahoma. Michel had 11 carries for 181 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner. Meanwhile, Chubb had 14 rushes for 145 yards and two scores.

Alabama

With all due respect to both Ohio State and Central Florida, the Crimson Tide have earned the right to be here. It’s been well documented that there has been some heartache around Alabama (12-1) being the recipient of the fourth and final playoff spot without winning their conference. However, the Crimson Tide may have put many critics to rest in a dominating semi-final victory over Clemson by the score of 24-6.

Alabama got back to playing the type of football we are accustomed to seeing against Clemson. They employed a devastating and opportunistic defense that held the Tigers out of the end zone while scoring themselves with a pick six. The Crimson Tide allowed only 188 totals yards and forced two turnovers.

The offense continued the trend of doing just enough. The recipe for success has been utilizing a ball-control offense with timely throws to keep the defense off balance. Damien Harris led the attack on the ground with 77 yards, while Jalen Hurts threw for two scores through the air. The defense also turned offensive as defensive lineman Daron Payne caught a one-yard touchdown pass to extend to an 11-point advantage early in the third quarter.

Bulldogs vs. Crimson Tide

Being in the SEC is not the only thing that these two schools share in common. The way they attack you and their identity are eerily similar. The winner of this game may be determined by which team can impose their will on the other. Both teams will pound the running game to set up the play-action pass on offense. Both will also play to their suffocating defenses and attempt to force long drives for scores

Quarterback play will be crucial to success in this game. This is where the teams begin to differ from one another. Georgia’s Jake Fromm feeds off of success in the running game to set up their play-action passing game. The running game likely won’t be quite as open again Alabama. Throwing on first downs and breaking tendencies will be key to success. Comparatively, Alabama counters with Jalen Hurts who is probably not as good of a pure dropback passer. But, he is a dual-threat that adds a dimension that Georgia must account for. It seems like in order for Alabama to win that Hurts must improve upon the 120 yards that he threw for against Clemson in order to win this game.

This is a classic student versus pupil match-up. Kirby Smart is looking to become the first Nick Saban assistant to defeat him. One key to look at here is how will Georgia handle this moment. The Bulldogs will be in front of a hometown Atlanta crowd, but Alabama has been here and Georgia hasn’t. The Bulldogs must start fast, but not let the emotions of the game take over early.

Prediction Time

What’s a preview article without bold predictions? Our panel of experts has weighed in with their predictions for the National Championship game below. But, we also want to hear from you. Post your score predictions in our comments section as we count down to the championship.

 

Panelist Score Winning Team
Tony Siracusa 31-20
Lauren Beasley 24-17
Jonathan Bailey 17-6
Donald King 28-17
Brandon Eisenman 38-34
Kevin McGuffey 34-31
David Knight 24-20
Maggie Yarnell 31-27
Miles Jamieson 28-20
Hector Rodriguez 24-20
Ben Beaker 24-10
Stone Sousa 27-20
Hebru Maxis 31-17
Jason Rhea 21-10
Chase Michaelson 20-10
Mike Loveall 27-24
Yesh Ginsburg 34-21
Evan Mitchell 21-19
Dean Mullen 19-14
Kate Pearson-Halyburton 15-12
Justin Gordon 38-30

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’m looking forward to watching some of the game tonight. I think the keys to Georgia beating Alabama are: George needs big defense plays especially in the first half like big stops, big blocks, goal line defense, blitz, and put lotta pressure on Alabama’s quarterback. If all Georgia does the whole game is play defense, I think they’re going to pull out the victory. They need to get the momentum and keep the initiative and keep the pressure on Alabama’s offensive line. Georgia special teams are excellent on punk returns, and should go for the sidelines and run up the sidelines for a touchdown. I think Georgia has the number one defense in college football today. Georgia should double-team Alabama’s best players. Georgia should probably use some screen passes, and maybe set up some trick plays right before the half and right before the end of the game to win it. Georgia needs to counter attack when Alabama scores points immediately. I think George Sherman should look play for short passes and just for first downs early. So if George’s football team does all the stuff, and doesn’t have any unforced errors, they should win! Whoever makes the least errors, will probably win the game, unless the other team gets very, very, lucky! Hopefully Alabama will missed tackles fumbled the ball, and throw interceptions, so Georgia can win!

    • Thanks for the commentary, Fletcher. Very good analysis. I think that high scoring of a game would be very exciting. The combination at running back of Chubb, Michel, and Swift is tough for any team to overcome. I believe the game will be won or lost at the line of scrimmage for both sides. For Georgia, if they can keep Bama honest with the running game Fromm is lethal in play action. Very similar for Bama, but they would like to get Hurts on the edge a bit in the running game. Oklahoma ran for over 230 yards against Georgia so if Bama can come close to that, I think they win the game.

  2. I predict Georgia is going to beat Alabama 56-52 and tonight’s game.
    First-quarter
    G 14-14 A
    Second-quarter
    G 17-14 A
    Halftime
    Georgia 31 – 28 Alabama
    Third-quarter
    G 14-14 A
    Fourth-quarter
    G 11-10 A
    Final score
    Georgia 56-52 Alabama

  3. I think that if the game ends in a tie at the end of regulation time, that Georgia will win.for example, what if each team got a field gold and a touchdown each quarter and after 4 quarters, the game was tied at 40-40. Georgia has better special teams than Alabama. So, Alabama will lose if it goes to overtime!!

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