The SEC has a saying: “It just means more.” While it’s easy to smirk and sneer at the grandiose nature of the suggestion, Georgia vs. Alabama in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game might have more meaning and more implication than any other college football game this weekend. In many respects, we’ve been waiting for this clash for most of the season. Want to know how to watch, what to watch for, and some NFL Draft prospects worth watching? Then read on!
Georgia vs. Alabama | 2021 SEC Championship Game pick and prediction
- Spread: Georgia -6.5
- Total: 50.5
- Moneyline: Georgia -260, Alabama +210
Georgia vs. Alabama is about more than just crowning a conference champion. The SEC Championship Game has far-reaching consequences for college football. The fates of multiple teams vying for position in the College Football Playoff lay with this game. Hell, Alabama’s postseason fate hangs on this contest.
Even if Georgia loses, they will likely still be in the College Football Playoff. It’s the product of an incredible season of defensive dominance like we’ve rarely seen before. There’s an argument that they’re the best defensive unit in college football history. They’ve swept aside all comers without breaking a sweat, and even if they fall on the final hurdle of a perfect season, their prior performances should ensure they make it to the final four.
An Alabama win would make it an incredibly tough decision for the College Football Playoff committee. If Alabama loses, their season is effectively over. No two-loss team, from the SEC or otherwise, has ever made it to the final four. If you’re a Michigan, Oklahoma State, Cincinnati, or Notre Dame supporter, this is the result that you’re desperate to see.
National Championship aspirations aside, one of these two teams will be the SEC Champion on Saturday night. If it’s Alabama, it will be their 10th win in 14 appearances. If it’s Georgia, it will be their fourth win in nine appearances. It will be the third time that the SEC Championship Game has been Georgia vs. Alabama. The previous two matchups, in 2012 and 2018, both resulted in the Crimson Tide rolling over the Bulldogs.
SEC Championship Game Pick and Prediction: Georgia 21, Alabama 17
Top prospects playing
In addition to being the most high-profile game of the weekend, the SEC Championship Game plays host to some of the best prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. No other game has the sheer volume of prospects on display, and both teams have potential first-rounders. Who should you be watching out for with a view to the NFL Draft in Georgia vs. Alabama?
- Jordan Davis, DT
- Nakobe Dean, LB
- Travon Walker, DT
- Devonte Wyatt, DT
- Nolan Smith, EDGE
- Lewis Cine, S
- Derion Kendrick, CB
- Evan Neal, OT
- Christian Harris, LB
- Henry To’o To’o, LB
- Jordan Battle, S
- Phidarian Mathis, DT
- Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB
- Jameson Williams, WR
- John Metchie III, WR
Georgia offense vs. Alabama defense
This matchup of the Georgia offense and the Alabama defense could be the deciding factor of the SEC Championship Game. While the Bulldogs’ defense has brutalized every team they’ve challenged, the offense hasn’t been anywhere near as terrifying a prospect to face. Despite this, Georgia has the second-best scoring offense in the SEC and sixth in the nation with 40.7 points per game.
Of course, it makes it easier to score when your defense routinely puts you in great field position. Furthermore, Georgia’s defense has contributed 3 touchdowns to the offensive scoreboard with interceptions from Nakobe Dean, Christopher Smith, and Jason Dumas-Johnson.
The Bulldogs ended the season ranked 27th in the nation in total offense with 442.5 yards per game. They’ve been impressive on the ground, with Zamir White leading the way with 691 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, James Cook leads the team with 6.5 yards per carry and has found the end zone 7 times himself. Georgia averages 202.5 yards per game on the ground, the 26th-most in the nation.
Georgia’s reliance on their ground game could be their undoing in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama has been dominant against the run, allowing just 80.6 yards per game, which is good enough for fourth in the nation. Linebackers Henry To’o To’o and Christian Harris have been impressive in this regard, with Tennessee transfer To’o To’o leading the team in tackles. Then they have the best defensive player in the country, Will Anderson Jr., chiming in with an FBS-leading, eye-watering 25.5 tackles for loss this season.
Stetson Bennett vs. Alabama secondary
Despite rumors that Georgia would bring back JT Daniels for the SEC Championship Game, we’re going to presume that Stetson Bennett IV will be under center when Georgia vs. Alabama kicks off on Saturday night. He’s earned the nickname “The Mailman,” but will he be able to deliver against the Crimson Tide secondary on Saturday night?
Bennett has been accurate and efficient enough to survive this season, throwing just 5 interceptions and completing 65% of his passes. He’s even thrown more yards per attempt than his counterpart in the SEC Championship Game. Yet, the Bulldogs only rank 59th in passing offense this season. Moreover, Bennett has just 1,985 passing yards to his name.
Although the Alabama defense has multiple NFL Draft prospects in their secondary, they’ve had a tough go of it at times this season. They’ve allowed 213.6 yards per game through the air, ranking 42nd in the nation. Georgia tight end Brock Bowers is averaging 17.6 yards per catch and should be able to win against the Alabama secondary. However, will Bennett take advantage of that with Anderson and Phidarian Mathis bearing down upon him?
Alabama offense vs. Georgia defense
What do you do when you lose your quarterback, two first-round wide receivers, and an elite running back to the NFL Draft? Well, if you’re Alabama, you simply replace them with a Heisman-contending quarterback, two 1,000-yard pass catchers, and a 1,000-yard running back.
Although the run game has taken a hit, ranking just 77th in the nation with 150.33 yards per game, the Alabama offense has been explosive. The Crimson Tide have averaged 42.7 points and 492.2 yards per game. Jameson Williams and John Metchie III have torn apart defenses, and Brian Robinson Jr. has elevated his NFL Draft stock with a series of gritty performances with the ball in his hands.
Regardless, this is the biggest test the Alabama offense has faced by a considerable margin. The Georgia defense leads the SEC in every conceivable defensive metric. Their 6.9 points per game not only leads the nation but is up there with the stingiest units in college football history. Additionally, they’ve allowed only 229.7 yards per game this season while holding teams to an average of just 78.92 yards on the ground.
While Alabama has Anderson as the statistical standout of their defense, the Bulldogs’ ability to rotate their unit means everybody gets to eat. There are 11 players with more than 1 sack this season, with Dean leading all active players with 5 sacks. Just half a sack behind him is underrated linebacker Channing Tindall, who leads the team with 57 tackles. We haven’t even mentioned gargantuan defensive tackle Jordan Davis yet, who has the potential to be a top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Bryce Young vs. Georgia secondary
That’s how deeply talented the Georgia defense is — there are literally too many playmakers to talk about. While their front seven gets a lot of attention, their secondary is dripping with talent at every position too. As a result, they’ve allowed just 150.8 passing yards per game this year. Only Washington has allowed fewer during 2021.
Three players in the Georgia secondary have 8 pass breakups: Kelee Ringo, Lewis Cine, and Latavious Brini. Another defensive back, the highly-rated Derion Kendrick, has 2 interceptions alongside Dean and Smith. These Bulldogs have created their own “no-fly zone” over Athens. Yet, in the SEC Championship Game, they will face their toughest test.
They haven’t faced a quarterback like Bryce Young this season. The first-year starter has orchestrated an Alabama passing game that ranks second in the nation with 341.8 yards per game. Even with his back against the wall against Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Young found the poise and presence to dig deep and deliver a win. He’s accurate, blessed with a cannon for an arm, and displays the mental toughness of a more experienced quarterback.
How to watch Georgia vs. Alabama
- Start time: Saturday, December 4, 4 PM ET
- Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
- Channel: CBS
- Live streams:
- YouTube TV
- Hulu + Live TV
- CBS Sports App