The Post’s Zach Braziller breaks down the nationwide championship recreation (Monday, 8 p.m., ESPN) between No. 1 Alabama (13-1) and No. 3 Georgia (13-1) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
When Alabama has the ball
It’s the story of this showdown: Can Georgia’s top-ranked protection rebound after the beatdown it took within the SEC Championship recreation simply greater than a month in the past? The unit that allowed simply 7.2 factors per recreation in its different 13 video games was shredded for 41 factors and 536 whole yards by Bryce Young, Jameson Williams and Co. It failed to provide a single sack. Don’t count on historical past to repeat itself. The Bulldogs are simply too good up entrance, with an excessive amount of next-level expertise — defensive sort out Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean are first-round picks — to get shredded like that once more. The absence of main receiver John Metchie III (torn ACL) will probably be felt extra right here than it was within the Cotton Bowl rout of Cincinnati, as a result of the Crimson Tide gained’t simply have the ability to push round Georgia like they overwhelmed the Bearcats. Young, the Heisman Trophy winner, will make his share of performs, however Georgia’s protection can have its moments, too.
When Georgia has the ball
Stetson Bennett IV has confronted Alabama twice — and thrown 5 interceptions. Georgia has misplaced these video games by 17 factors apiece. The Crimson Tide will once more put this recreation on the previous walk-on’s proper arm, loading up in opposition to the Bulldogs’ stout speeding assault. Bennett did throw for 340 yards within the first assembly, though quite a lot of that was after the sport was properly in hand. And he must deal with an bettering protection that, other than one ugly efficiency in opposition to Arkansas, has carried out properly for the final two-plus months and is third within the nation with 52 sacks.
Both kickers, Georgia’s Jack Podlesny and Alabama’s Will Reichard, missed as soon as within the semifinals, however they’re as reliable as school kickers come. Keep a watch on Alabama’s Williams within the return recreation. He has taken two kickoffs again for touchdowns in simply 10 returns.
Nick Saban has confronted former assistant coaches 27 instances, and misplaced simply as soon as, this season to Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M. He’s owned Kirby Smart, his former defensive coordinator, since Smart made the transfer to Georgia. Saban, who’s on the lookout for his document eighth title, has gotten the higher of Smart twice within the SEC Championship recreation and as soon as within the nationwide title recreation 4 years in the past.
Players who might determine the sport (non-quarterbacks)
LB Will Anderson Jr., Alabama: The numbers — 17.5 sacks, 98 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss — are absurd. The sophomore has had no less than one sack in his final eight video games, and will’ve been a Heisman Trophy finalist. You don’t cease him. You simply hope to sluggish him down.
WR JaCorey Brooks, Alabama: Georgia isn’t going to let Williams single-handedly beat it once more after his seven-catch, 184-yard, two-touchdown masterpiece a month in the past, which ought to create alternatives for Brooks, a five-star freshman who has begun to emerge. His 44-yard landing catch helped put away Cincinnati. Remember, it was a then-unheralded freshman, DeVonta Smith, who caught the game-winning rating within the title recreation 4 years in the past for the Crimson Tide in opposition to Georgia.
TE Brock Bowers, Georgia: Only a freshman, Bowers is already one of many premier tight ends within the sport. An argument might be made that he’s the most effective one within the nation. Alabama would know — Bowers torched the Crimson Tide for 10 catches, 139 yards and a landing within the SEC title recreation.
Alabama has the best school soccer coach of all time and the most effective gamers on the sector, in Young and Anderson. This won’t be much like the SEC Championship recreation romp. It will as an alternative be harking back to the 2018 title recreation, as Young rallies the Crimson Tide late, hitting Brooks for the game-winning landing within the remaining minutes. Anderson ices it with a strip-sack, his third sack of the sport, as Alabama repeats and beats Georgia for the eighth straight time.
Alabama 28, Georgia 24