It’s an all-SEC final. The Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) take on the Georgia Bulldogs (13-1) in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The Tide is playing in their third straight natty, having split the last two against Clemson. After a timely loss to Auburn cost them a date with the Dawgs in the SEC Championship game, the Tide were still able to squeak into the Playoff as the #4 seed. They proceeded roll through #1 Clemson putting on a defensive masterpiece.
Georgia's last Championship came in 1980 when Herschel Walker's team ran the table en route to a #1 ranking at season's end. Auburn also spoiled the Dawgs' undefeated season, but Georgia turned around and beat the Tigers in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. After making the playoffs as the #3 seed, the Bulldogs overcame a 31-14 lead against Oklahoma to win 54-48 in double overtime in one of the most thrilling college football games in recent memory.
The Crimson Tide will bring their elite defense while the Bulldogs will counter the best running back tandem in the league with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb and Michel combined for 326 rushing yards with 5 touchdowns against Oklahoma, and Michel hauled in 41 receiving yards with another touchdown. This will be a huge matchup against an Alabama defense that has given up under 100 yards per game on the ground and limited Clemson to just 64 rushing yards last week. Georgia likely won’t be able to put up 54 points against this defense but they will have more success than Clemson.
Alabama’s offence didn’t look too spectacular against Clemson, and while Georgia did poorly facing Oklahoma, the defense is surely ready to bounce back for this big game. Butkus Awardee Roquan Smith is the name to watch on that defense as he looks to be a top 10 pick and one of the first linebackers off the board in the upcoming NFL Draft. Not to be outdone, Minkah Fitzpatrick headlines Bama's secondary, having won the Chuck Bednarik award for Best defensive player in the nation and looks to be a top 5 pick in the draft.
Georgia needs the run game to survive, but freshman QB Jake Fromm has to be able to stay composed and make the right plays to avoid being chewed up and spit out by this defense. But Alabama can’t just rely on their defense to win the game for them; they need their running game to have some sort of impact. More crucially for the offence is Jalen Hurts who has the experience of being in the title game last year but did not have a good game. He should look to improve upon that to win the title.