One of the most surprising realities of the 2021 season is Alabama's inconsistency. The Tide all but giving up the ghost to a less than stellar LSU squad that has seen their season expectations lowered this season after showing just a 4-5 record and their beloved head coach being ousted just two seasons after one of the most dominant college football teams of all time.
The general consensus around the college football world of the Tide's performance against average competition has been more or less negative. Many are almost dismissing Alabama's 8-1 record like it is the beginning of the end for Nick Saban's elite dynasty. Alabama and Georgia are not as far apart as many may assume, but the mainstream of opinion s would have you believe that the Tide's recent performances are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how good Bama actually is this year.
Don't discount Saban's ability to use any measure to motivate his team to play more elite these last few weeks of the regular season.
SEC West Standings
1. Alabama - 8-1 (5-1)
2. Texas A&M - 7-2 (4-2)
3. Auburn - 6-3 (3-2)
4. Ole Miss - 7-2 (3-2)
5. Miss. State - 5-4 (3-3)
6. Arkansas - 6-3 (2-3)
7. LSU - 4-5 (2-4)
As the SEC West sits right now, Alabama and Texas A&M are the remaining teams in contention for the SEC West division title, which would put one of them in the last slot facing Georgia in Atlanta for the SEC title.
If the Tide are to punch their ticket into postseason SEC and CFP drama, they will need to step up the focus on discipline, which is right where Coach Saban likes to hover, and will need to show consistent success in managing games that are supposed to be "afterthoughts."
Cover 2 Predictions
Each week, I pick two games from the SEC and give a quick run down of what you could look forward to seeing that week.
No. 14 Texas A&M @ No. 16 Ole Miss at 4pm ET on ESPN
A&M finds itself in a position for which it needs Alabama to take one more conference loss to take control of the West, but the next team up for the Aggies is the No. 16 ranked Ole Miss Rebels. A&M will go on the road this week in Oxford to display what they believe to be a championship caliber team, behind the arm talent of Sophomore star Zach Calzada. Over the past five games, Texas A&M is averaging just 19 points per game and allowing a total 339.8 yards per game over that same stretch.
Jimbo Fisher has done a great job of developing a new structure of talent and skill that matched with attitude that gives A&M that fire it needs every game.
Ole Miss poses a dynamic and explosive offense behind Lane Kiffin's offense that averages 32.2 points per game over the last 5 games. Junior QB Matt Corral is still looked at by many as having one of the best shots at the Heisman Trophy this season, and a victory over Texas A&M would certainly boost his resumé. The Rebels look to spoil the Aggies' run at a potential SEC Championship game appearance for the first time since joining the SEC in 2012.
Prediction: Ole Miss 38 - Texas A&M 33
No. 1 Georgia vs. Tennessee @ 3:30pm ET on CBS
The Bulldogs enter this week with the best odds to make the playoff. They offense and defense are both clicking on all cylinders. But some drama has entered Athens this week. Projected first round NFL draft pick and Senior LB Adam Anderson was arrested this week on felony rape charges of a 21-year old woman. Adam had been under investigation, but he finally decided to turn himself into the Clarke County Police on Wednesday. A big blow for a dominate Georgia defense who has seen much success this season with Anderson on the field.
Another shot to the Bulldog faithful came when news broke that Freshman star WR Arian Smith had broken his leg in Thursday's practice. Totaling a mere 3 receptions for 103 yards and 2 TD's this season. Smith has been on and off the field this season with injures, but Dawg fans are hopeful that they will see him again this season.
Georgia travels to Knoxville this week to take on the surging Tennessee team that seems to be finding their stride with Va. Tech Transfer Sr. QB Hendon Hooker. The current spread has Georgia at -20, but many see this being much different than oddsmakers are giving credit. The keys for Georgia on defense are to limit the explosive plays as they have been able to do all season, make sure to keep Hooker in the pocket, and to stay disciplined on each assignment.
The offense is making more strides each week with Stetson Bennett under center, but there are still those that are calling for JT Daniels to step in. Bennett has kept his game up and has proven to be the go-to signal caller this season, and that is why Kirby Smart has kept him under center.
Can Josh Heupel and Tennessee's aggressive offense upend Georgia's perfect season? Over the last few weeks, we have seen discipline at times from this Tennessee squad, and then others where the mismatch seemed to be back to what Vols fans expect from their Rocky Top rebuild under first year head coach Josh Heupel.
Heupel has been able to breathe life into an already amazing atmosphere in Knoxville, and in just his first season, has people all around college football asking the question of whether the Vols can overtake a tenacious Georgia squad, who take pride in keeping anyone and everyone out of their end zone.
Saturday's matchup will be more of a "dawg fight" than most expect, given the recent surge of a Vol's offense that is averaging 304 yards passing over the past 3 games. Georgia will be tested through the air this week more than anytime this season, and that should certainly excite Vols fans.
In that same 3 game stretch, Tennessee has given up 41.6 points per game. The biggest factor in securing an upset over the No. 1 team in the nation is how Tennessee's defensive efficiency shows up in Knoxville. Heupel and Co. will have to play an A+ game and focus on winning the turnover battle if they plan on uprooting an otherwise perfect UGA season.
Be assured that Rocky Top will be rocking on Saturday as the Vols get ready and try to give the Bulldogs their first loss of the season. Will Georgia give up more than 13 points to the Vols, as it has yet to allow against any opponent all season. Could we see No.1 go down in Knoxville?
Prediction: Georgia 37 - Tennessee 20