Georgia and Alabama will throw down on Monday night in the National Championship Game. I happen to love the fact that a portion of the elite media loathes the league and must endure a four-hour SEC infomercial. The nation’s best two teams will settle the matter on the field. Sorry, Oklahoma and Ohio State. With all the rage about high octane offenses, Howitzer armed quarterbacks, and video game-like statistics, the Dawgs and Tide prove that defense and turnover margin actually mean more when competing for the Big Trophy. Let’s take a look:
The game’s two starting quarterbacks are the conference’s 7th and 8th ranked passers. Let that resonate for a minute. Alabama’s Jalen Hurts (8th): 61% completion percentage, 2060-yards, 17 TDs, 1 INT, 158.5 yards per game. Georgia’s Jake Fromm (7th): 63.7% completion percentage, 2383-yards, 23 TD’s, 5 INTs, 170.2 yards per game. Again, when the world focuses on signal callers that sling the football around the field for 400 yards a game, neither of the two last standing quarterbacks average 200 pass yards per game.
Georgia and Alabama are ranked 1st and 2nd in the SEC’s Rushing category as you can see below. Also, please note the turnover margins for each: Alabama +13 and Georgia +5.
|Rushing||Damien Harris||75.62 ypg|
|Passing||Jalen Hurts||158.5 ypg|
|Receiving||Calvin Ridley||59 receptions, 935-yds|
|Passing||Nick Chubb||94.29 ypg|
|Rushing||Jake Fromm||170.2 ypg|
|Receiving||Javon Wims||44 catches, 704 yds|
Alabama and Georgia rank 1st or 2nd in 11 major SEC defensive statistical categories. Both are excellent vs. the run. A fun fact to watch is that Alabama has allowed just 31 rush plays of 10+yards. Georgia has executed 110 run plays that exceeded 10+yards. Conversely, Alabama’s rushing attack produced 112 plays of 10+yards. UGA’s defense has allowed 47 runs of 10+. The lack of explosive plays due to superb run defenses may influence the final score to be decided in the Red-Zone. The Dawgs are much more efficient from the 20-yard line in scoring 96.2% of all trips and have the more reliable kicker. Comparatively, Alabama’s 87.3% Red-Zone ratio is lesser and the Tide’s field goal kicking team is adventurous.
The following statistics are relevant in the “Defense wins championships” discussion:
|Scoring||Allowed 11.1 ppg||SEC-1st|
|Tackles for Loss||89||SEC-2nd|
|Tackles for Loss||Raashan Evans||11.5|
|QB Sacks||Raekwon Davis||7.5|
|Scoring||Allowed 15.7 ppg||SEC-2nd|
|Tackles for Loss||87||SEC-4th|
|QB Sacks||D’Andre Walker||5.5|
|Tackles for Loss||D’Andre Walker||13.5|
Georgia’s Mecole Hardman leads the SEC in both punt (16.9) and kick returns (27.3). Georgia also has the advantage in the kicking department with Rodrigo Blankenship’s 17/20 field goal ratio. Alabama punter JK Scott (42.40) is more recognizable but UGA’s Cameron Nizialek (44.87) is actually averaging 2-yards more per kick.
What does all this mean?
The SEC will once again own the National Championship Trophy. Will it call Athens or Tuscaloosa home? Conventional wisdom favors the Tide; thus, I’m going with the Dawgs.