Who wins the rematch?
The college football championship game is scheduled for 8 pm ET Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. No. 1 Alabama faces No. 3 Georgia in a rematch of the SEC championship game, which Crimson Tide won 41-24.
However, the Bulldogs are favorites by 2.5 points, and Kirby Smart has a chance to lead Georgia to its first national championship since 1980. Alabama is seeking its seventh national championship with Nick Saban. The stakes are high in this SEC showdown.
Sporting News staff give their picks for the college football championship game:
CFP Championship Picks
Bill Bender: Alabama 27, Georgia 24
Remember, Georgia was up 10-0 in the first game before Bryce Young hit Jameson Williams for a 67-yard TD. That reversed the course of the game. The Bulldogs defense looked angry against Michigan, and Alabama will have to better run the ball with John Metchie III out and a ramshackle secondary. Stetson Bennett will stick to that script from the start, and Georgia could lead the third quarter. It’s going to be tight, but Young is still the X-factor. A fourth-quarter TD to Williams gives Alabama the lead, and they hold on. A field goal either way could decide this, and perhaps Will Reichard plays the role of hero. Alabama, to Georgia’s chagrin, wins it all again.
Bill Trocchi: Georgia 27, Alabama 20
You get into position enough times, eventually you’re going to break. The obvious plot is how Georgia is going to pressure Young, something she couldn’t do in the first matchup. Alabama showed a powerful running game against Cincinnati, but that won’t work against the Bulldogs. The Tide will have to throw the ball, and Georgia will have to put pressure on Young and have fewer breakdowns in high school. If that happens, Alabama will have trouble scoring more than 20 points like the rest of Georgia’s opponents. Can Georgia score enough against The Tide? He had 24 points in the first matchup and has scored an average of 24.8 points in the four Smart-Saban matchups. That should be enough to win. Georgia has spent double-digit leads in three of those games, and Smart still scares me with his in-game management, but now is the time for Georgia to take the crown.
Zac Al-Khateeb: Alabama 30, Georgia 20
It’s true that Georgia enjoyed a return to dominance in its 34-11 demolition at Michigan’s Orange Bowl. It’s also true: Alabama wasn’t that impressive in its 27-6 win over Cincinnati, considered the weakest of the four playoff teams. But the Alabama defense allowed only two touchdowns, both field goals, in preset units. The offense didn’t need to open its playbook against the Bearcats, opting to impose an old-school rushing attack rather than testing All-American cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Ahmad Gardner. It was a completely different strategy than the one Crimson Tide used against the Bulldogs, one that shows that no one is better than Saban at planning the game around opponents’ exploitable weaknesses on a week-by-week basis. Expect it to find them again against Georgia in a tighter win.
Mike DeCourcy: Alabama 28, Georiga 21
I’m still not entirely sure if Georgia put up its best against Alabama, not because of a noose-to-drug strategy to pay off in this championship game, but more so because there was no way the Bulldogs could be this far. motivated like the Tide was when they first met. Alabama was gambling for its life; UGa was playing for a trophy. Now, the question of existence is the same for both teams. However, if the two most important positions on any team are that of head coach and quarterback, Alabama has a huge advantage with both. That makes it terribly difficult to choose against the tide. The closest Georgia’s superb defense came to stopping a “great” attack was in the semifinals against Michigan, and that’s how “great” were the Wolverines on the year: 26th among Division I teams. Alabama is fifth and features Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. He’s close enough that a break or fumble can change this, but it feels ridiculous to choose against Saban.
Vinnie Iyer: Alabama 34, Georgia 27
Kirby Smart might have the smart-sounding last name, but Nick Savant … er Saban … won’t lose to one of his former defensive assistants in a game like this with a young QB beating Heisman and dueling another QB. whose first name is a hat and the full name sounds like a character from “Yellowstone”. The offense wins championships in the 21st century, not some archaic battle of attrition. Georgia got away with it against pedestrian Michigan and that won’t work again against Alabama. Saban knows this and that makes him “smarter” than his lower situational counterpart. Saban also knows that this would be the No. 7 championship and he will fool the SEC, also winning for his team winning by exactly that many points. The “underdogs” win, the Dawgs lose and the elephants are amazing.
Matt Lutovsky: Georgia 27, Alabama 24
It might seem crazy to pick Georgia just a month after Tide defeated the Bulldogs, but Georgia showed no negative effect of that loss during the dismantling of Michigan. If anything, UGA seemed more determined than ever to bounce back and win its first national title since 1980. Getting in the way is an old enemy, and while it’s easy to claim Alabama “owns” Georgia, breakthroughs do eventually occur. This is the year for Georgia, which has better defense, a better running attack and a stellar passing game with ball control with tight end Brock Bowers. The loss of Metchie, who had 97 yards and a TD in his first meeting before injuring his knee, will hurt Tide, and while they still have several offensive playmakers, Georgia will learn from their previous mistakes and do enough to suppress this one. get out and finally get over the hump.