The time has now come for all of the weekly debating and bantering throughout message boards and water cooler talks to end as the game both fans have anticipated has finally arrived. The Alabama Crimson Tide is set to face the Georgia Bulldogs in a game that could further make one team’s season, and potentially break the other.
As it stands right now, the Crimson Tide enters this game as an underdog for the first time in 72 games and their season is hanging in the balance and a loss today could effectively end their chances for a repeat playoff appearance.
As for the Bulldogs, their season has started off great and are currently clicking on all cylinders, which is perfect timing against an Alabama team still searching for their offensive identity.
While key matchups and players are ultimately what this game would normally come down to, the biggest determining factor today will not don a jersey, nor be a contributing member of either’s coaching staff.
This factor, however does have a name and he alone will make the largest impact in all phases of the game and depending on how either side can handle him, it will decide the fate and the outcome of today’s game.
That’s right, Hurricane Joaquin and the elements he brings to Athens will cause Nick Saban and Mark Richt to shift gears with their normal game plans and adjust accordingly to the conditions which include an 80-90 percent chance of rain and wind gusts between 10-15 MPH.
Typically in these conditions, the advantage goes to the team that can handle the best in the trenches. Alabama’s defensive line is arguably the best in college football and they literally run three-deep. Both team’s running backs are fairly similar in running style in Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Alabama’s Derrick Henry. While both are one-cut backs, Chubb is the more shiftier of the two and may have trouble cutting on a wet field surface.
The wind however, will be the ultimate hurdle for both teams to overcome and offensive coordinators Lane Kiffin and Brian Schottenheimer will have to be deliberate in their play calling and not feel compelled to take unnecessary shots down the field with winds projected as high as 15 MPH.
So far, Georgia’s Greyson Lambert has looked more like an All-Pro quarterback rather than a college player. His last two games he’s completed 33 of 35 passes, which is good for 94 percent. Unfortunately for Bulldog fans, this streak will end, and it’s not because Lambert is not good enough to continue, but with a defense as stout as Alabama’s along with the weather conditions being as horrendous as reported, not even Peyton Manning would be expected to put on a passing display as Lambert has his previous two games.
All in all, this game comes down to the Alabama defense. In the past two years, Saban has not been able to play defense the way he is accustomed to due to not having the personnel needed at the cornerback position. With Cyrus Jones and Marlon Humphrey able to play man-to-man on the outside, and converted corners Eddie Jackson and Geno Matias-Smith providing a boost at the safety positions specifically in coverage. Georgia will not be able to run the ball effectively, which will cause Lambert to have to air it out in these conditions, and with the pass rush much improved from the Tide — combined with the coverage on the outside — expect at least two interceptions from Lambert and Henry to win the battle between the running backs.
Alabama – 27 Georgia – 10