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Alabama Football: 5 Reasons Why the Crimson Tide Will Beat Georgia in the National Championship

Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide Football

Alabama booked a trip to the national championship on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis thanks a dominant 27-6 victory over Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31. The Crimson Tide will see a familiar foe on Jan. 10. SEC rival Georgia blasted Michigan to set up a rematch of the SEC Championship Game to decide college football’s national title. Alabama defeated the Bulldogs 41-24 in Atlanta to decide the SEC title in early December but heads into the championship as a small underdog. The Crimson Tide have a chance to make history against Georgia. With a win, coach Nick Saban’s team would become the first team to repeat since the Crimson Tide went back-to-back in 2011-12.

Alabama has been on a run of dominance since Nick Saban took over in Tuscaloosa in 2007. The Crimson Tide have won at least 10 contests in each of the last 14 years and have made the CFB Playoff title game in six of the last eight seasons. Saban has guided Alabama to six national championships, including three during the CFB Playoff era. The appearance in Indianapolis is the ninth time the Crimson Tide have played for a national title since ’09.

College football’s 2021-22 season concludes on Monday, Jan. 10 with the national championship game in Indianapolis. Why will Alabama defeat Georgia and claim the title? Here are five reasons why the Crimson Tide will win it all:

5 Reasons Why Alabama Will Beat Georgia for the National Title

1. Bryce Young
Alabama’s hopes of another win over Georgia and national championship will hinge on the right arm of the Heisman Trophy winner. High expectations surrounded Young (a former five-star prospect) coming into the season, and the sophomore certainly delivered (and then some). The California native passed for 4,503 yards and 46 touchdowns to only five interceptions and added three more scores on the ground en route to winning college football’s most prestigious award. Young’s poise amidst pressure kept the Crimson Tide’s offense performing at a high level despite some key losses from last season, and he rarely made mistakes (five picks and 67.6 completion percentage). Young is the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback in college football and delivered every time Alabama needed a play.

Young’s right arm was the difference in the first meeting between these two teams in the SEC Championship Game. The sophomore completed 26 of 44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns on Dec. 4 in Alabama’s 41-24 victory. Young’s lethal accuracy and big-play ability in that game torched the No. 1 defense in college football. For the Crimson Tide to come out on top on Jan. 10, the sophomore will have to carry this team. It’s unlikely Alabama can run as well it did versus Cincinnati against Georgia’s front seven, which means the offense has to win in the passing game again. The Bulldogs should have a different game plan to defend Young, but the sophomore should still find favorable matchups against the secondary.

The last five quarterbacks to win a national title: Deshaun Watson, Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow and Mac Jones. An elite quarterback is needed to win a national title in this era of college football. Young is the best one on the field on Monday night.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Georgia Will Beat Alabama for the National Title

2. Jameson Williams and Other Talented WRs
In addition to Young’s performance, Alabama’s receivers winning one-on-one battles against a vulnerable secondary were a key reason for the victory in the SEC Championship Game. Cincinnati’s man coverage limited Young to just 181 yards on 17 completions, so the receivers didn’t make a huge impact, and a key question about this group wasn’t answered. Jameson Williams led the team in targets (nine) and receptions (seven), while Ja’Corey Brooks (66) paced Alabama in yardage against the Bearcats.

In the first meeting against Georgia, Williams torched the defense for 184 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yard score in the first half and a 55-yard strike in the third quarter. For the season, Williams was the No. 1 target for Young, recording 75 receptions for 1,507 yards and 15 touchdowns. There’s no doubt he will be the top weapon for Young on Monday night, but Alabama will need other playmakers to emerge – especially with John Metchie III (96 catches) out for the year. Metchie’s absence wasn’t necessarily felt because of the game plan versus Cincinnati, but Brooks (nine catches in ’21) has shown flashes of potential. Slade Bolden (35 catches), Traeshon Holden (15), JoJo Earle (12), and Javon Baker (seven) are other options on the outside. Also, tight ends Cameron Latu and Jahleel Billingsley (17) will be involved early and often.

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Metchie III grabbed six catches for 97 yards and a score in the first meeting, and while he will be missed, Alabama doesn’t lack for talent or options in the receiving corps.

3. Improvement Up Front & Brian Robinson
Alabama’s offensive line has been a work in progress this season. A dominant line from 2020 lost center Landon Dickerson, tackle Alex Leatherwood and guard Deonte Brown, prompting an uneven performance in ’21. The Crimson Tide have allowed 37 sacks through 14 games (up from 19 in ’13 contests last fall). Also, rushers are averaging 4.3 yards per attempt – down from 5.0 last year.

The line regression has made it a little easier for opponents to defend Alabama this fall. The ground game isn’t as productive on a per-carry or per-game basis, and defenses don’t have to devote extra defenders in the box to attack the front. However, did the Crimson Tide turn a corner late in the season? The front five played one of its best games of the year against Georgia, allowing no sacks to the vaunted front from Athens. Against Cincinnati, Alabama gashed a standout defense for 301 rushing yards (6.4 per carry) in the Cotton Bowl. Brian Robinson accumulated 198 yards on 25 attempts, with Trey Sanders adding 73 over 15 carries.

Georgia is likely to make tweaks to its defensive strategy after Young and Alabama’s offense torched this group in December. However, the line should be able to build off solid back-to-back performances and take another step forward with a little extra time to prepare for their SEC rival. An x-factor to watch: linemen Emil Ekiyor and Chris Owens left the Cotton Bowl with injuries. If either or both are out, that’s a big concern for Alabama.

4. A Standout Defense
Georgia owns the best defense in college football. The Bulldogs limit teams to 4.09 yards per play and 9.6 points a game. Also, this unit is allowing only 82.1 rushing yards a game and only one opponent scored more than 17 points (Alabama) this fall. However, the Crimson Tide’s defense isn’t far behind Georgia. Through 13 games, Alabama is holding teams to 4.7 yards per play and 19.2 points a contest. Saban’s defense has matched Georgia’s group in rush defense (allowing 82.1 yards a game), leads the SEC in third-down defense, and has been more productive in getting to the quarterback (52 to 46 sacks).

In the first meeting between these two teams, Georgia was held to 5.8 yards per play and converted only three of 12 third-down attempts. Also, Alabama’s front – led by linebacker Will Anderson – was disruptive with three sacks and six tackles for a loss. This unit also forced two turnovers, with Jordan Battle returning an interception 42 yards for a touchdown.

The Crimson Tide should have confidence to defend Georgia’s offense based upon how the first meeting transpired. Anderson is likely to be disruptive up front once again, and the line should contain the Bulldogs’ rushing game. Also, while the secondary won’t have Josh Jobe due to injury, this group played well against Cincinnati and could have a healthier version of Jalyn Armour-Davis (limited in the Cotton Bowl due to injury).

5. Alabama Owns Georgia
The teacher (Nick Saban) has taken the student (Kirby Smart) to school. Alabama is 4-0 against Georgia since Smart took over in Athens. The Crimson Tide have won each of the last two meetings by the score of 41-24 (one regular-season game and SEC title), with the two contests before that being the national title game (2017 season) and SEC Championship Game (’18). Whether it’s been in the regular season or for a title of some sort, Alabama has held the edge in this series of titans in the SEC.

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