SEC Week Four: Can Georgia Stop The Tide From Rolling?

by | Oct 15, 2020 | College Football, General | 0 comments

Week Four of SEC Football brings us the most anticipated matchup of the season. Georgia invades Tuscaloosa this Saturday. 

Even without the news today of Nick Saban testing positive for COVID-19, this game had everyone’s interest.

While not having the best football coach (college or pro) on the sideline will be a change, Alabama’s accountability system shouldn’t miss a beat. I’m certain knowing his greater access to critiquing their mistakes might help inspire his players.

#3 Georgia (3-0) at #2 Alabama (3-0) 8:00 PM EST

Strength vs. Strength

The highest-scoring offense (51.0 PPG) squares off against the nation’s second-ranked defense (236.0 YPG). Can Mac Jones and his elite group of offensive weapons achieve the same success against Azeez Ojulari, Monte Rice, and Eric Stokes? 

Azzez Ojulari was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week with his performance against Tennessee.

Ojulari, who plays the “Jack” position on Georgia’s defense (a combination of OLB and DE), helped key the Bulldogs second-half domination in their victory over #14 Tennessee on Saturday. Ojulari won SEC defensive player of the week, registering two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Georgia held the Vols to just 71 total yards in the second half.

Offense vs Defense
2020 Stats
Alabama OffenseGeorgia Defense
Yards PG560.3236.7
PPG51.0>>12.3
Rush YPG175.338.3
Pass YPG385198.3
Turnovers37
SEC Rank21
National Rank32
>>First in Nation

Alabama erupted for 723 yards of total offense in their win over the Rebels (the most since putting up 833 during a 77-6 win against Virginia Tech on October 27, 1973). Mac Jones leads the nation in passer rating (220.3) and yards per completion (13.3). Equally impressive is his 79.5 completion percentage while registering over 13 yards per completion.

Alabama’s offense has not missed a beat under Mac Jones.

There isn’t enough space to write about all of Alabama’s offensive weapons, so rather than deal with the endless amount of individuals (Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, John Metchie III), I’d rather focus on the offense as a whole.

Key Notes 

Alabama has won 27 straight games against SEC East opponents (their last loss came at South Carolina on October 9, 2010).

Overall, Alabama is 35-3 against SEC East opponents under Nick Saban (14-1 at home, 14-1 on the road, 7-1 on neutral fields) 

Since 2007 (Saban’s first year at Alabama), Alabama and Georgia own the two highest win percentages in SEC play.

SEC Standings Overall
Since 2007DivisionW-LWin Pct,
1AlabamaWest92-150.859
2GeorgiaEast76-310.710
3LSUWest73-340.688
4FloridaEast70-370.654

Alabama has won five straight against Georgia (One National Championship, two SEC Championship Games, and two regular-season games).

Nick Saban is 21-0 against former assistants, although he will not be on the sideline this Saturday against former assistant Kirby Smart (0-2 vs. Saban).

Najee Harris vaulted over Ole Miss for a career-high 206 rushing yards and five TD. He has scored a TD in 10 straight games.

Key Questions

Can Georgia finally put Alabama away if they hold a late lead?

In three of their last four meetings, Georgia failed to hold a second half lead. In the 2018 SEC Championship, Alabama closed the game on a 21-0 run. In the 2017 National Championship, the Bulldogs failed to hold a 20-7 second-half lead in a 26-20 loss in OT. In their 2012 regular-season matchup, Alabama outscored Georgia 22-7 after the Bulldogs opened up a 21-10 lead in third quarter.

Georgia Blown Leads
Second Half vs Alabama
Georgia LeadFinal Score
2018 SEC Championship28-14L, 35-28
2017 National Championship20-7L, 26-20 (OT)
2012 Regular Season Meeting21-10L, 32-28

Can Georgia score enough to compete with Alabama?

Georgia ranks 7th in the SEC in total offense (420 YPG) and 5th in PPG (36.0). Their opponents rank 5th (Tennessee), 7th (Arkansas), and 8th (Auburn) in the conference in total defense. 

A definite weakness Georgia could attack is Alabama’s run defense, which allows 150 YPG (Georgia averages 172 rushing YPG).

Can Georgia stop Alabama’s offense?

Stop? No. Control by keeping it off the field by dominating the time of possession? Maybe.

I will attempt to explain how good Alabama’s offense is in an easy to understand manner. For those critical of Alabama’s defense, their offense’s success plays a small part in that.

Since the start of 2018 (Tua’s first full year), Alabama has 45 TD of 30-yards or longer on plays from scrimmage. That’s an insane statistic. They score quickly and from anywhere on the field. 

Over that same span (since 2018), they average two fewer offensive plays per game and six more defensive plays per game than they did from 2009-17. It’s not the main reason, but it is a small part of why Alabama’s defense is more vulnerable than earlier in Saban’s tenure.

Alabama Offense vs Defense
Average Plays Per Game
Since 20182009-17
Offense Plays – SEC Games66.869.2
Defensive Plays – SEC Games69.163.7
Offense – Overall6668
Defense – Overall6862

Since 2018, the Crimson Tide totaled 500 yards or higher in 23 of their 31 games. They have scored 35 or more points in 15 consecutive games, tying the longest such streak in major-college football history (Oregon scored at least 35 points in 15 straight games from November 5, 2011, through November 17, 2012).

Can Stetson Bennett raise his game enough to achieve a result Jake Frohm nor Andy Murray (much more accomplished QB) failed to do?

The Junior QB is producing so far this season (229.7 Pass YPG, 5 TD, 0 INT), but playing at Alabama is a different level. If the running game takes some pressure off him, he will fare a lot better. 

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