Once again, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs will face each other for the right to be called the national champions of college football. The last time they played for the natty, the Crimson Tide had the last laugh. Overall, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is 0-3 against his mentor Nick Saban.
The closest that Smart has come to knocking off Saban was in the 2018 national championship game. He almost pulled it off in the rematch during the 2018 SEC championship game, but Alabama prevailed again.
With a victory over Alabama on Monday night, Georgia would win their first national championship since 1980. Likewise, a national title and a win over the Tide are all that’s left for Smart to accomplish. For nearly all of the 2021 campaign, the Bulldogs appeared to be the only elite program in college football. After a 10-3 triumph over Clemson in the season opener, Georgia won its next 11 contests by at least 17 points.
However, the loss to Alabama in Atlanta showcased the vulnerabilities of Smart’s team. Quarterback Stetson Bennett has to play much better to defeat the Crimson Tide, and also Georgia’s stout defense needs to do a better job of rattling Alabama QB Bryce Young. Young’s performance allowed him to become the front runner for the 2021 Heisman Trophy award in the first meeting.
He torched Georgia’s defense for 421 passing yards and three touchdowns. They also must contain wide receiver, Jameson Williams. With Williams’s fellow teammate John Metchie not playing in tonight’s game due to injury, Georgia will have to defend Williams. The Bulldogs rebounded from the conference championship defeat to beat Michigan 34-11 in the college football playoff semifinal.
A trip to the national championship game is almost an annual expectation for the Crimson Tide. Since Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the program has won six national titles and lost two other matchups to the Clemson Tigers. Monday night’s meeting is the ninth time Alabama will play for a championship under Saban, and this team has qualified for playoff berths in seven of the eight years since the four-team playoff format started in 2014.
After beating Ohio State in the title game last season, Alabama’s path to another championship started with a 5-0 record, including victories over the Miami Hurricanes, Florida Gators, and the Ole Miss Rebels. But Alabama struggled at Texas A&M, losing by three points. Alabama had a few rough performances down the stretch, yet the loss in College Station motivated them to succeed in the SEC championship game against Georgia.
Georgia’s pressure is on fixing what they did not do in the first meeting with the Crimson Tide. If the Bulldogs show that they have failed to make adjustments on defense compared to the last contest, then Alabama will easily win this game. Young will be the primary catalyst for the Crimson Tide to win another national title on Monday night. His ability to extend drives can cause Georgia’s defense to fall apart at the most inopportune time.
There’s always a first time for everything. For Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs, it will be their first victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Saban era. Their defense should be competent enough to make the necessary adjustments that were not made in the previous matchup.
They should have a shot at knocking off Alabama as long as the game is close going into the half. Controlling the time of possession will be crucial for the Bulldogs to win this matchup. Tonight will be the best opportunity for Smart to take down Saban’s Crimson Tide. Even though they have rallied to win big against teams such as Georgia and Cincinnati, this is one of Alabama’s weaker teams going into a national title matchup.