A date with No. 1 Notre Dame and a trip to Miami for the national title game are at stake as the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide clash in the SEC Championship game Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.
One loss each has not stopped either team, with No. 2 Alabama peeling off two straight blowout wins after falling to Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M three weeks ago.
No. 3 Georgia suffered their only loss back in October to South Carolina, and have won six straight since, including a convincing 17-9 slugfest over then No. 2 Florida.
Friday’s matchup will feature two of the most talented defenses in the country, though Alabama has been far more consistent.
The Tide have allowed just 9.3 points per game, including holding opponents scoreless for 12 straight quarters, and to just 2.4 yards per rush.
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With 72 tackles, 10.5 sacks and another 28 quarterback hits this season, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones wreaked havoc on the SEC, along with linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive tackle Johnathan Jenkins.
All three are considered first round talent in the NFL, but the Bulldogs defense has still been inconsistent this season. Georgia allowed 20 or more points in four of their first five games, including 44 points against unranked Tennessee in the final week of September.
In their 35-7 drubbing to South Carolina, Georgia gave up 230 rushing yards, something they cannot afford against Alabama.
Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon are perhaps the most devastating one-two rushing combo in the country, combing for 1,848 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Georgia will counter with quarterback Aaron Murray, who has throw for 3,201 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, and running back Todd Gurley’s 1,138 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs overcame Murray’s three interceptions against Florida, but since then junior has thrown 13 touchdowns at least 200 yards in four consecutive games.
Georgia will focus on how Texas A&M beat the Tide, and forced Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron to throw his only interceptions of the season. The junior had thrown 291 consecutive passes without a pick.
How McCarron and the Alabama offensive line holds up against Jones and Georgia’s pass rush should be the matchup of the day.
Betting Odds: Alabama is favored by 7.5 points.
Over/Under: 50 points
Prediction: The Tide are poised for their second straight trip to the national title game, but Georgia will not lay down. This should be a close game, with Alabama pulling out in the fourth quarter for the win.
Predicted Score: Alabama 30, Georgia 24