How to watch the SEC Championship Game
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Watch Online: CBSSports.com
(via DraftKings Sportsbook)
Spread: Georgia -6.5 | Alabama +6.5
Moneyline: Georgia -260 | Alabama +210
Alright… so, to start off, if Alabama is going to win this game, what needs to happen?
Robert O’Neill: They have to get to Stetson Bennett. I think Alabama, like most teams, will struggle offensively against Georgia. Bennett was good against Georgia Tech and Charleston Southern, but he looked beatable against Florida and Missouri, granted Georgia ran the ball well in those games. Regardless, the key to picking up the win is to get pressure on Bennett.
Chris Novak: Prove that they can actually withstand a pass rush. Last week Bryce Young got walloped by an Auburn defense that had a game where their Sack% was a whopping +4.0% off their current season average. Alabama’s reward for that is facing a Georgia team that ranks sixth in the country in Sack%. They haven’t done a great job at limiting pressure this season, so this could be a terrible matchup if they don’t wise up.
Additionally, they have to find somebody to shoulder the load offensively. John Metchie III is pretty good himself. Is he enough to be the guy for them against Georgia? In the past, Alabama has had Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Amari Cooper, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle, just to name a few. They’ve been game-changers and big-time players in games like this. So I will look to see if someone on the ‘Bama offense can have a star performance outside the QB.
Who wins in the trenches?
Chris Novak: Georgia has kept whoever is at QB upright and clean for a majority of the season. But this is probably the best defense they’ve faced all year. Will Anderson Jr. and the Tide have been dynamite on defense this year. They have the top-ranked Sack% in the SEC at 10.34 percent. They’ve plugged up the run game big time as well.
The issue for Alabama is that their numbers are pretty concerning. They’ve only averaged 4.0 YPC this season. While Young has averaged 9.3 Yards/Pass, the Dawgs rank first in the nation in Opponent Yards/Pass at 5.3. And as we explained already, Georgia can get to the QB.
Based on only what’s in front of us, I have to say that Georgia has the edge in the trenches this season and it’s not remotely close.
Robert O’Neill: I would agree there, and I think that could be a big key to a Georgia victory. They’ve played the same game for virtually the entire season regardless of opponent.
What in your opinion is the likelier outcome: A close Alabama win? Or a blowout Georgia win?
Chris Novak: The latter. I don’t think any result besides Alabama absolutely smoking Georgia would surprise me. That being said, Georgia can do the same to ‘Bama, I feel. The Tide’s lack of strength in the trenches really might rear its ugly head on Saturday afternoon. While Georgia has had a quiet INT problem, they mostly play a very clean game. What also is true is that Alabama averages about 7 penalties per game. Georgia? Just 4.9, ranked 21st in the nation.
Robert O’Neill: We really don’t ever see Alabama get blown out but this might be one of those times. I could see Georgia by two or three touchdowns and not blink an eye, to be honest.
Who wins and why?
Chris Novak: I have to go with the Dawgs. This has been the best team all season long. There have been few slip-ups in their play leading up to this moment. The defense has given up just 3.7 Yards Per Play, are allowing less than 35 percent on 3rd downs, and just 55 percent on Red Zone Scoring%. That second mark? The best RZ Scoring% allowed by any defense since the 2010 Boise State Broncos (55.66%). This is a historically great defense and I think they will show themselves to be that in this game. It doesn’t matter to me that Stetson Bennett might not be the most glamorous QB. The offense still is a very strong unit that has the third-highest Yards Per Play mark of the season. Georgia 30, Alabama 17 sounds about right to me.
Robert O’Neill: I have to go with Georgia as well. They’ve been the best team in the nation all year and I don’t see it stopping now. I’ll go with 24-10 in favor of the Bulldogs.