Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Georgia comes into Saturday's showdown with Alabama in the Georgia Dome as the underdog. Here's a few reasons to believe that they can pull the upset
1. Aaron Murray. For our Georgia readers who think that I'm always banging on the Dawgs: I got in a dispute with my Alabama fan sister over the weekend when she objected to my saying that Georgia pretty clearly has the better offense in this game. Murray is one of the major reasons I said that. He currently ranks as the most efficient passer in the nation, with a 177.15 quarterback rating. Murray is 213-of-320 passing for 3,201 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He ranks 27th in passing yards per game despite having just one receiver in the Top 100 in receiving yards per game -- Tavarres King, who just makes it at 100th with 58.7 ypg. If Murray is on Saturday, Nick Saban and Co. will have their hands full trying to stop him.
2. "Gurshall." About mid-October, it was fashionable and not unreasonable to think that the duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall was a touch overrated. The pair rushed for just 70 yards on 18 carries in an uninspiring win at Kentucky, the week after grinding out 76 yards on 25 carries at South Carolina. And it was at least their third mediocre game in a row, after their 22 carries against Missouri produced a ho-hum 97 yards. But the last month and a half of the season, the double-headed running back tandem turned it on. The only one of their last five games in which the two didn't combine for at least 100 yards was against Georgia
State Southern -- which, Georgia State Southern. Gurley led the way, running for 351 yards in a three-game stretch against Florida and Ole Miss and at Auburn. Gurshall picked up 163 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries against Georgia Tech to finish the season.
3. Jarvis Jones. Georgia also has defensive weapons, with their most notable being maybe the best linebacker in the SEC and one of the top linebackers in the country. Jones is a one-man wrecking crew, piling up 10.5 sacks and nine more tackles for loss on the season while forcing six fumbles -- including two in the Florida game that put Georgia in command of the SEC East. His average of almost two tackles for loss a game is tied for first nationwide, and the average of more than a sack a game is fourth in the NCAA and second in the SEC behind some guy named Clowney. And Jones ranks third on the Georgia defense with 71 tackles despite not playing in two games. (In fairness to Alec Ogletree, the team's leading tackler, he sat out four games.)
4. Touchdowns in the red zone. Remember how we mentioned Alabama's skill at scoring in the red zone? Georiga's a touch better at getting seven points once they get inside the 20-yard line. (These numbers, by the way, are courtesy of cfbstats.com.) In fact, Georgia's touchdown rate of 76.1 percent is the best in the conference, though a few other teams are higher in total conversions because the Dawgs don't come away with points as often when they don't find the end zone.
5. Motivation. If you want to put some stock in intangibles -- and I think they can make a difference at the margins -- Georgia has to have a little extra fire going into this one. For a couple of weeks now, they've heard the chatter about how Alabama is extremely likely to win this game and advance to the national championship. And they've got two seasons' worth of weak scheduling meme to take out on somebody. If Mark Richt can make sure that his players take it out on Alabama, we might just have a real ball game on our hands this weekend.