It’s an all-SEC affair when Alabama takes on Georgia for the College Football Playoff national championship. Here are the first thoughts and reaction.
College Football Playoff National Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia
5. Is America going to care?
It doesn’t make any sense.
Alabama right now is as big a dynasty as anything American sports, but the interest level just isn’t there compared to the New England Patriots, the Golden State Warriors, or certainly teams like the 1990’s Chicago Bulls or the New York Yankees.
Maybe it’s because Alabama is so business-like, or maybe fans are tired of The Process. But judging by the early reaction, the big problem is the SEC vs. SEC matchup.
The fact that Alabama couldn’t even win its own division will be a problem for some. For others, in such a regional sport, two SECers going at it might not draw the casual sports fan from Seattle or be appointment viewing for some NBA lover in New York.
It doesn’t matter now if you think Ohio State deserved a shot, or if UCF might have a beef since it’s unbeaten and took down the Auburn team that best the both the national title combatants. This is it. This is the national title.
Either Georgia does what Clemson pulled off last year and becomes one of the new stars in the world, or it’ll confirm that …
4. What Alabama is doing is absolutely amazing
Considering how intense the recruiting pressure is, the toughness to step up and shine each and every week – ask Ohio State vs. Iowa how hard that is – and with so many programs struggling to find any sort of consistency, this run by Nick Saban’s Alabama program is among the best ever.
At the very least, the Crimson Tide are playing in their third straight College Football Playoff national championship, going for their fourth national title in the last seven years, the fifth in nine seasons, and the sixth all-time for Saban.
There but for a Kick Six against Auburn in 2010, a late rally from Tim Tebow and Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship, and a huge day from Ezekiel Elliott in the 2015 Sugar Bowl, Alabama would be playing in its ninth national title in ten years.
3. Which teams will show up?
No matter how they both figured out how to get here, both Georgia and Alabama made it.
Georgia might have been blown away by Auburn, but it made amends in the SEC Championship, survived Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, and now have shot at their first national title since 1980.
Under head coach Kirby Smart, the program appears to be on the verge of consistently being something amazing – this is just the beginning.
But how much will the Rose Bowl tax this group? With only a week to prepare, there isn’t much time to get that energy level back up.
For Alabama, the team that struggled and sputtered so much late in the season looked totally different against Clemson.
The offense didn’t work, but the defense took over the game right away and set the tone. Saban has said that there’s a massive difference between his team with a month off and a week off.
Don’t expect the health of these two to be the same by a long shot, but the energy level will be there because …
2. Atlanta and this setting will be amazing
Fine, rest of America. For those of you who don’t care, you’re going to be missing out on one wild party.
And for those in the SEC/ACC part of the country, this is your dream. The excitement level for Georgia getting a shot at a national title, combined with the regional feel will make this historic.
Being played in the home of the SEC Championship, the new billion-plus dollar Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be insane. It’s a home feel for Georgia, but Alabama fans will invade the city, too.
Early indictions are that you can’t get in the door for less than $2,000, and that price will likely only go up as the week goes on.
It’ll be like nothing the College Football Playoff has seen in its first four years.
1. What’s going to happen?
Will the Alabama offense have to open it up a bit?
Lost in the win over Clemson was how the running game was stuffed – for the most part – and Jalen Hurts only made a few good pass plays.
Will the Georgia ground game have any room to move?
Nick Chubb and Sony Michel might have run wild through the Oklahoma second and third levels, but that’s not going to happen against Bama’s defensive front.
Be shocked if this is high scoring. Be stunned if both defensive lines don’t take over right away.
Georgia might be the more complete team with more depth, energy and fire to be here, but if the Alabama that showed up in New Orleans can maintain that intensity for another week, it’s pulling off the national championship.
Remember, Ohio State came out of the Sugar as the four-seed to beat the Rose Bowl champion to take the first College Football Playoff at the end of the 2014 season.
With the caveat that this might change after being down in Atlanta for a few days – and depending on thoughts and moods – the first-reaction prediction …
Alabama 23, Georgia 16