College Football Playoff brings potentially historic matchup to Indianapolis

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Lucas Oil Stadium will host the 2021-22 College Football Playoff National Championship Game featuring the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

     After a season full of surprises and excitement, it all comes down one game. The Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs will face off for the national championship on January 10 in Indianapolis. The game, held inside the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium, is destined to be one for the ages. This will be the second time that these teams have met this season, as they played each other in the SEC Championship game —  where Alabama emerged victorious 41-24. Despite Alabama defeating Georgia convincingly earlier in the season, I would not count the Bulldogs out. Both teams boast strength offensively and defensively, which leaves room for anything to happen.

Georgia Bulldogs

     This season, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has assembled one of the strongest defenses in recent memory. The Georgia defense, led by Outland Trophy winner Jordan Davis, only allows 253.1 yards per game, which is ranked second in the nation. This stat is especially impressive due to the strong competition that the Bulldogs have faced. In their five wins against ranked opponents, the Bulldogs have held opponents to 7.4 points per game. As their defense smothers opposing teams, it helps set up the Georgia offense. Led by quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, Georgia boasts the ninth best scoring offense in the nation, averaging 38.8 points per game. In addition to this, Georgia has handled the pressure of big games very well, with the crown jewel being a 34-11 trouncing of the Michigan Wolverines, a team that some believed could have been the top seed in the College Football Playoff. A final thing that Georgia has going for them is that it is difficult to beat a team twice. Georgia has had time to adjust their game plan from the last time they faced Alabama, so the Bulldogs might have a different approach in their attempt to defeat the Crimson Tide.

Alabama Crimson Tide

     The top seed and reigning national champion Alabama Crimson Tide enter Indianapolis as 2.5 point underdogs against Georgia, but the Crimson Tide tend to thrive when they are not favored. Since 2009, Alabama has been an underdog in just three games, and in those games, they have won by a combined 64 points. Alabama has one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Led by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and Biletnikoff award finalist Jameson Williams, they can score at will. The Crimson Tide score a whopping 41.4 points per game on average, which ranks them third in the country. Alabama pairs their high-powered offense with a top 10 defense. Alabama holds opponents to 299.8 yards per game, ranking them sixth in the nation. Linebacker Will Anderson leads the Crimson Tide’s defensive unit, who have smothered opposing teams this season. While all of these stats are important, there is one that stands out from the rest. Alabama head coach, Nick Saban, is 25-1 against his former assistant coaches, including a 4-0 record against Kirby Smart.

     As a whole, this game is difficult to choose a clear-cut favorite. Both teams have aspects that are slightly better than the other, but as a whole, Georgia and Alabama are evenly matched. If I had to choose between the two, I would take Alabama. Teams coached by Nick Saban rarely struggle in big games, and I expect tonight to be no different.