Alabama vs. Georgia – The Pick


Well, this game just got more interesting…

With USC’s shocking loss to Oregon State last night, the Alabama/Georgia game assumes even greater importance, as the winner of this game is clearly in the national championship conversation. Both teams understand the stakes; how they answer will say much about the character of the teams. Here are our thoughts on how the game turns out:

Richt and the Bulldogs have spent the week getting worked into a frenzy about their clothing. Saban and the Tide have spent the season lowering expectations and keeping hype to a minimum. Saban has preached execution and consistency to his team, and thus far, it’s resulted in a blue-collar, lunchpail mentality. This mindset has allowed the Tide to close out games much stronger than last year.

We’d love to see Alabama come out and shock Georgia with a passing attack they haven’t shown thus far, lighting up the Dawgs and rolling up the score. But most likely, we’ll see the Tide try to establish the run behind Smith and Johnson, men whose bland last names symbolize their workmanlike effort in the trenches. With a power running attack, Alabama can keep Knowshon Moreno watching on the sidelines.

Defensively, Alabama has to continue to play tough up front, and allow the secondary to roam free. Arenas and Woodall would love a repeat of last week’s twin pick-sixes, but just keeping the Dawg receivers in check will be a full day’s work.

We said before the Clemson game that we pick with out head, not our heart. And we will in this case. Alabama is doing the little things, the basic things. Running. Stopping the run. Limiting penalties and turnovers. This will be critical against Georgia, and will be just enough to get the job done.

I thought the Bama/Clemson game (and the media circus, anticipation surrounding it) was big. Nope… that game was just lower-case-big. The Alabama/Georgia game is serious, upper-case BIG. We’ve heard all week about the blackout; we all know how good Knowshon Moreno is; and now, with USC going down, the rewards for a win this Saturday night makes the game even bigger. The oddsmakers, as well as most analysts, seem to believe that Alabama can’t win. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but I think that Bama can pull it out… if several things happen:

• The offensive and defensive lines have to come up even bigger than they already have this season; the d-line, in particular, must contain Georgia’s running game.

• Our running game must continue to be effective. Andre Smith and Company must continue to give Coffee and Ingram (and others) room to run.

• John Parker Wilson hasn’t had to pass much this season, but the Georgia defense will put more pressure on our run than any teams before. If our running is contained at all, Wilson will have to start making some big plays.

My prediction? Although Georgia will be a supreme test, Alabama will step up in all three categories. It will come down to the wire, but Bama’s overall line play (and a good game by Wilson) will be the deciding factors.

Further reading:
Saban-mania could reach new heights Saturday (msnbc)
Joe’s Stunner of the Week: Alabama vs. Georgia (bleacher report)