Alabama is one win away from another national championship. But in order to claim another title, coach Nick Saban's squad will have to go through a familiar SEC foe in Georgia. The Crimson Tide are aiming to go back-to-back after defeating Ohio State in the national championship last season, and a victory over Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl showcased all of this team's strengths. Alabama's defense dominated the line of scrimmage and didn't allow the Bearcats to piece together consistent drives. Quarterback Bryce Young didn't have a huge statistical outing, but he made a handful of clutch plays through the air, and the Crimson Tide's offense steamrolled Cincinnati for 301 rushing yards. Saban's team appears to be peaking at the right time.
While all eyes will be on Young, Brian Robinson, and receiver Jameson Williams, a couple of under-the-radar players always break out with performances that could help decide the winner of the national championship. Which players or other aspects could be an x-factor on Monday? Here are five things to watch:
5 Alabama X-Factors That Could Determine National Title
Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB
Armour-Davis was limited to just 15 snaps against Cincinnati due to injury. How healthy is he on Monday? With Josh Jobe already sidelined for the year, Alabama needs Armour-Davis to be close to full strength or at least capable of handling a bigger snap count against a standout group of receivers on the other sideline.
Slade Bolden/Ja'Corey Brooks, WR
John Metchie III's absence and how Alabama replaces him looms large for Monday night's game. With the strength of the Crimson Tide offensive line and ground game versus Cincinnati, quarterback Bryce Young didn't need to throw 40 times to win, so there's still some mystery at how Metchie will be replaced. This duo was targeted 10 times, catching seven passes for 97 yards and two scores in the semifinal win over Cincinnati. Alabama needs that type of production (or better) to win on Monday night.
Seth McLaughlin, C
McLaughlin made his first start of the 2021 season in the SEC Championship Game, which was arguably the best performance of the year for Alabama's offensive line. He started again versus Cincinnati last week, as the Crimson Tide pounded away for 301 rushing yards. Can McLaughlin hold his own at the point of attack once again versus All-American defensive tackle Jordan Davis and a standout Georgia front? Another x-factor to watch up front: Will Chris Owens and Emil Ekiyor play after leaving the Cotton Bowl due to injury?
Dallas Turner, LB
It's no secret Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. is the top defensive playmaker for the Crimson Tide, and the sophomore caused Georgia's front some issues in the first matchup. If the Bulldogs focus more attention on Anderson, Turner - a true freshman from Florida - could have more opportunities to make plays. In 14 games, he's generated 26 tackles (eight for a loss) and 6.5 sacks.
Bryce Young's Mobility
Young isn't going to call his own number on running plays very often, but his ability to scramble and make decisions under pressure could be crucial on Monday night. Georgia's front was unable to sack Young in the first meeting, which was a big part of the Heisman Trophy winner's ability to test the defense downfield. The Bulldogs will likely switch up their game plan for Monday night. With Alabama's inconsistent play in the trenches all year, if Young can slide in the pocket or use his legs to escape the rush, avoiding negative plays and keeping drives alive is huge for this offense.
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