Monday night’s national championship matchup will be a line-of-scrimmage game.
Alabama and Georgia pride themselves on being physical along both lines, not surprising considering Bulldogs coach Kirby Smith is a protégé of Tide coach Nick Saban.
The Tide is facing a team that looks a lot like Alabama. The same could be said for Georgia: The Bulldogs are facing a team that looks a lot like Georgia.
Nick Saban is 11-0 against former assistants. However, this former assistant is special. Kirby Smart spend 10 years with Saban. Smart’s defensive schemes were a major part in those national championships at Alabama. Now, it’s Smart turn to see if he can defeat the master.
On Sunday in Atlanta at the press conference, both Saban and Smart were asked about their biggest concerns going into the game.
Smart: “They’ve got an extremely physical offensive and defensive lines. They are as big and as physical as we’ve faced, and we know we like to run the ball and we like to stop the run, but when you look at the unit that he’s comprised and got, it’s a dominant, physical team. We’ve got to match the physicality. They do a tremendous job in all phases. There’s no weakness when you look across the board.”
Saban: “I would say that my biggest concern is how do we execute in terms of things that are important in having success in a game. Some of them Kirby mentioned. Because they’re two physical teams, can you control the line of scrimmage? Are you going to make the kind of errors in a game that are going to be critical factors in the outcome of the game? And turnovers would be a big part of that. Tackling I always worry about in bowl games and games where you haven’t played for a long time. We missed some tackles in last week’s game, and the quality of running backs that they have and the skill players that they have, I think those factors are going to be huge in a game in terms of doing a good job in those areas.”
An all SEC national championship may not appeal as much to college football fans from other Power 5 conferences. However, for SEC fans- this is the biggest game ever. The SEC is going to win its ninth national title in 12 seasons.
Alabama is going for its fifth championship in nine seasons, Georgia for its first since 1980. In addition, if the Bulldogs win, it will mean five SEC schools will have won national titles in that 12-season span; Alabama won in 2009, ’11, ’12 and ’15. Auburn won in 2010. Florida won in 2006 and ’08. And LSU won in 2007.
Both teams have highly acclaimed running backs and talent on both sides of the ball. Each team wants to win the same way: by running the ball and playing stifling, aggressive, and physical defense.
The national championship game will be the eighth meeting between the programs since the SEC split into divisions and one of those was in the 2012 SEC championship game. However, on Monday night the stakes will be even higher. This will be an exciting game to watch and I will be in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium for every minute of it.