Fans of the Southeastern Conference have seen some iconic championship matchups, but Saturday is about to deliver a classic from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Alabama and Georgia will meet for the eighth time in the Nick Saban era and the third time for an SEC Championship showdown. The winner confirms its ticket to the College Football Playoff, while the loser will miss the cut.
Georgia is the favorite of national media pundits as it has a defense that’s suffocated opponents all season. Alabama’s defense notched its best performance in the Iron Bowl versus Auburn; however, its offense wants to show it can defeat the Bulldogs.
Bryce Young, a sophomore quarterback, has the Crimson Tide in the top-10 nationally for several categories – including scoring offense (42.7 ppg, No. 5), total offense (492.2 ypg, No. 7), passing offense (341.8 ypg, No. 7), pass efficiency offense (175.08, No. 4), and third-down offense (53.9 percent conversion rate, No. 2). Alabama leads the SEC in red-zone offense, scoring 53 of 58 attempts (91.4%). Young ranks among the best signal-callers in college football.
He is sixth in the nation for passing yards (3,901), tied for second in touchdowns (40), fourth in passer rating (177), and fourth in quarterback rating (86.7).
Defensively, Georgia ranks in the top-five nationally for points allowed (6.9 ppg, No. 1), total yards allowed (230.8 ypg, No. 1), rushing yards allowed (78.9 ypg, No. 3), passing yards allowed (151.9 ypg, No. 2), and passing efficiency defense (95.04, No. 1). The Bulldogs are first in the SEC for third-down — allowing a conversion rate of 32.1 percent (61-of-190).
Georgia is tied for fourth in the nation for sacks (41), averaging 3.4 per game. Kirby Smart has not seen a quarterback like Young all season.
The former five-star from California feels confident Alabama can torch the Bulldogs and win the contest.
“Individually and as a team, we’re excited about the challenge,” Young said Monday.
“We all understand what it’s going to take. We all know how good they are on defense. So, we know what it’s going to take for us during the week in preparation and what it’s going to take for us on Saturday. We are all excited for the challenge.”
John Metchie, a junior wide receiver, said he is ‘extremely confident’ about Alabama’s offense having success versus Georgia.
“I think we are more concerned about playing our best brand of football,” Metchie said. “We are going against a good defense, but it’s about playing our best football. They [Georgia] have a good and very athletic secondary, and we are excited to go against them.”
The conversation has been about Georgia’s defense, but the talented Canadian said Alabama’s defense prepares its offense for these moments.
“We go up against one of the best defenses every day,” Metchie said. “On offense, it’s just about playing our best brand of football.”
Evan Neal, an offensive tackle, is excited for the challenge against Georgia’s defensive front.
“It is going to take us executing our game plan,” Neal said in keys for Alabama’s offensive line to slow down the Bulldogs. “We have to have good practices and make sure we are prepared to go in. You don’t need me to say it, but they [Georgia] are a talented group up front.”
Neal said hearing all the talk about Georgia’s defense motivates the Crimson Tide’s offensive front to have its A-game.
“We are all competitors,” he said. “This is what it’s all about. They are the best ok shoot, let’s go out there, line up, and let’s play.”
It comes in as an underdog, but Alabama’s offensive players are not thinking much about it.
“Well, it is not often Alabama is on the other side of that,” Neal said in the Tide entering Saturday’s game as an underdog. “We have to control what we can control. We are approaching this game like any other game. We are approaching this game with intentions to win. Georgia is a great team and has one of the best defenses we will see all year. We have to prepare.”
In the past, the Tide would have signs posted around the football complex as motivation for matchups like the SEC Championship Game.
Alabama is going after its eighth SEC title of the Saban era since 2009. The Tide’s offense is ready to topple Georgia.
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