Just looking at the numbers – and at the way that the two teams are currently playing – it is hard for even the most supreme fan to pick Alabama to beat Georgia in the Georgia Dome on Saturday. This, however, is college football, and in a sport that breeds upsets who is to say there won’t be one in the 2021 SEC Championship Game. Here are five reasons why the Crimson Tide will shock the Bulldogs.
By Steve Wright
1 – Bryce Young
The best chance that ‘Bama has to beat Georgia is to ride the best quarterback – and likely best player – in the country to a win. The sophomore – who is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy – has the ability to carry the Crimson Tide to a win. He is clearly the best quarterback that Georgia will have seen all year and he proved last week against Auburn he can make plays without any help from his offensive line. The Tigers got after Young early and often, but as is the case with great players it never fazed Young. The running game isn’t there and the line play is spotty at best, but the poise with which Young plays makes him the perfect quarterback for this task.
2 – John Metchie and Jameson Williams
The other aspect that makes the Alabama passing game work is that Young has a pair of receivers in Metchie and Williams who can take over games. Metchie was insane in the Auburn game, catching the game-winning pass in overtime as he brought in 13 catches for 150 yards. The reason Metchie was targeted so often was the Williams had been ejected for targeting, but he will be back here. Williams is the most explosive playmaker in the country thanks to his ability to use his speed to run away from defenders. If Alabama is to get explosive plays they will come from Williams and you feel that they will need at least two or three of his best as sustaining drives on Georgia will be tough.
3 – Alabama’s Pass Rush
While the offense has been hit or miss at times – especially on the ground – the Alabama defense has been impressive in the right areas. The reason that ‘Bama only had to run down a 10-point Auburn lead in the fourth quarter of the Iron Bowl was because of the defensive pressure put on Tigers’ quarterback TJ Finley all game long. SEC Player of the Year candidate Will Anderson Jr. is the top pass rusher – he made three of his seven tackles behind the line last time out – but he is only part of a pass rush that sacked Finley six times and left the quarterback hobbled in the overtime period. Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has been good enough for Georgia, but what will happen to a player who is still seen as more of a game manager if Alabama can get to him early and often with their fearsome front-seven.
4 – The run defense
If Bennett doesn’t have time to throw the ball then it is unlikely his rushing attack will bail him out. Alabama ranked No. 5 in the nation in run defense before the Auburn game. They then upped the ante from there, holding the dangerous Tank Bigsby and the Auburn ground game to a paltry 22 yards on 40 carries. If Georgia gets run-heavy and the offense doesn’t show much imagination – remembering that it hasn’t had to do so all year – then the Alabama defense is more than good enough to take away the run and force Georgia to move the ball through the air if they can.
5 – Scoreboard Pressure
Georgia hasn’t played a single game this year where scoreboard pressure has been against them. Much of this is due to the fact the Bulldogs have been outstanding in 2021 and that they have held opponents to an almost unfathomable 6.9 points per game. Alabama may not have the most consistent offense of the Nick Saban era, but with the players mentioned above the offense can be incredibly explosive. If Alabama can apply scoreboard pressure – getting up by a couple of scores and frustrating the Bulldogs’ offense early – then it will put Kirby Smart’s team in a position they are not used to playing from. Pressure is a funny thing in sport – and especially college sport – and that pressure is the biggest key to Alabama shocking Georgia in their home state.