Rule changes have altered the college football landscape. In many ways, it has become basketball on turf. A lot of the impetus for these changes is that college football has a serious problem with attendance. Cheap, high-definition television and the ability to watch every game live is pushing many fans toward their couch as opposed to their team’s stadium. Every now and then, though, a throwback game happens and, thanks to a little help from Mother Nature, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs will hearken back to football of yesteryear.
As of this story, the forecast for Athens, Georgia is a 70 percent chance of rain which goes to 90 percent according to weather.com. There is also a prediction for a 14 mile-per-hour wind throughout the day. What does that mean? To the delight of Alabama fans, the Tide must run the ball to win.
With weather as gnarly as it has been predicted to be, the longer the pass, the worse it is. On top of that, cutting in waterlogged grass is an adventure. The best way to get around these conditions is pure, old school physicality. Running between the tackles with a monstrous back like Derrick Henry, or Georgia’s Nick Chubb, will be on tap for both sides.
If there is one thing that the Georgia defense has struggled with, it is that sort of between the tackles running. The Georgia defense is built for speed, not power. Assuming the Alabama offensive line can engage their blocks, the Georgia interior defensive line is movable, which will open holes for Henry.
On the flip side, Alabama’s defense is built for power. They will be able to effectively maintain two-gap leverage, and clog running lanes for Chubb between the tackles. There will be potential success outside of the tackles, but with cuts being more difficult, the field may not allow it.
The game will almost certainly resemble a classic “Three yards and a cloud of dust (or mud)” affair. Due to the differences in how both team’s defenses are constructed, advantage Crimson Tide. That does not guarantee victory, but it does give a path for Alabama’s Lane Kiffin to design an effective game plan.