The national championship game may very well be decided by whichever offense can best achieve balance. I believe the Alabama football offense matches up against the Georgia defense better than the Georgia offense matches up with the Alabama defense.
Alabama Football: Bombs away in the SEC Championship
In the first matchup, both teams threw the ball a bunch and really struggled to run the ball. This was to be expected, given that the game featured arguably the nation’s two best run defenses. Bryce Young threw the ball 44 times for 421 yards, and Stetson Bennett threw it 48 times for 340 yards; hardly what anyone would expect out of a Bama-Georgia game.
Georgia managed just 109 rushing yards on 30 carries (3.6 YPC). On the ground, the Bulldogs were average at best early. Zamir White, James Cook, and Kenny McIntosh all had marginal success in trying to establish the ground game for Georgia, before falling behind by two scores early in the second half and having to abandon the run altogether.
The Tide fared a little better, running for 116 yards on 25 attempts (4.6 YPC). Bryce Young was something of an X-factor here, as he was never sacked and carefully selected his opportunities to scramble, en route to over 13 yards per carry. Alabama’s hobbled running back duo ran 22 times for only 76 yards (3.5).
Alabama Football: Rejuvenated backfield set the tone in Cotton Bowl
Alabama just ran roughshod over Cincinnati to the tune of 300+ yards on the ground. Not to fall into the trap of thinking they will do the same to Georgia, but I think Bama is primed to have some success on the ground on Monday (at least relative to what the Bulldogs have allowed this season).
Of course, Alabama has the luxury of Bryce Young and a high-octane passing game. We saw in the SEC title game, as well as other games this season, that Alabama doesn’t have to be great running the ball. They simply have to be proficient to really stress a defense to its breaking point.
Although Alabama football still has only two scholarship backs available, the duo is as healthy as it’s been in a while, and exponentially healthier than it was in the first matchup against Georgia.
A healthy Brian Robinson is one of the better backs in the country, and he’s coming off a career game.
Trey Sanders had one of his best games in an Alabama uniform as well. He looked as explosive as he has all season, and provided a valuable change of pace to the Bama rushing attack. Although he hasn’t shown it much at Bama, Sanders is also a threat out of the backfield. I think he is a candidate to make some clutch, game-changing plays in this contest, both on the ground and in the passing game.
Alabama Football: Offensive line peaking despite injuries
Additionally, I think the Alabama offensive line will be up to the challenge. It has battled numerous injuries, but has had several young players step up to the plate. It remains to be seen if Chris Owens and Emil Ekiyor will be at full strength or even play in the title game. If they cannot, JC Latham, Amari Kight, and potentially others will have to be ready, just as Seth McLaughlin was at center.
As a unit, the offensive line should be operating with peak confidence in spite of the injuries given its last two performances.
To reiterate, I don’t think anyone should expect Alabama football to run for 300 yards on Georgia. If it can run for even half of that, and display enough competence to stay ahead of the chains, its offensive balance will become very difficult for the Bulldogs to defend.