Alabama, with 47 votes, was the preseason No. 1 choice atop the AP poll. Georgia, with three votes, was fifth. On Oct. 10, by unanimous decision, the Bulldogs had climbed to the top of that mountain and have remained on that perch.
The Dogs have lost their past six games to Bama. However, the Tide have never played a No. 1-ranked Georgia team, and this particular squad is special because it allows opponents a paltry 0.105 points per play.
We favor that particular figure because it reveals plenty about a program’s DNA in one tidy number. And since TeamRankings has been detailing that metric since 2003, nobody has had a stingier defense than this season’s Georgia Bulldogs.
That doesn’t guarantee them the victory here, but it goes a long way to keeping this a very low-scoring affair. Six of Georgia’s past seven games have finished under their totals, and three of Bama’s past four haven’t hit the number.
No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (12-0, 8-3 ATS)
Vanderbilt’s offense earned three first downs against Georgia. Clemson got one rushing first down. Alabama-Birmingham and Vandy both made only one first down via passing.
Georgia Tech and Arkansas racked up only two first downs through the air, Charleston Southern picked up three. Tennessee, at home, accumulated 387 yards, the most-porous yield by Georgia this season, but produced only 17 points.
Both of the Dogs’ past two foes gathered fewer than 10 first downs, including by penalty.
Hank Williams sang songs about such utter futility.
And on offense, several injuries sidelined JT Daniels, their starting quarterback, at the end of September. All reserve Stetson Bennett has done is become the lone thrower in the nation, with regular action, to average double-digit yards per throw.
Bennett averages a sterling 10.8 yards per attempt, and he’s thrown for 21 TDs and had five passes picked off. Daniels has played in two of Georgia’s past four games, but Bennett is the man.
He’s getting the Tide passing defense at the right time, too, since it has allowed its past three opponents to complete 67.1% of their attempts. Only 23 of D-I’s 130 teams have been worse over that span.
No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, 6-6 ATS)
With a boneheaded play by Auburn tailback Tank Bigsby—instead of staying inbounds to burn a critical late 40 seconds off the clock, he got dragged out of bounds, enabling ‘Bama to comfortably tie it—the Tigers let the Tide off the hook last week.
Georgia doesn’t figure to allow such shenanigans in its quest for an undefeated season and national championship.
In his first season as the Tide quarterback, Bryce Young has fared well, with games of 300-plus passing yards no issue. He did that against Auburn, but it also represented the first time he completed fewer than half of his attempts (25 for 51).
Georgia, which leads the country by allowing only 5.3 yards per pass attempt, figures to make Young’s day difficult. In yards per completion, Washington (8.9) is tops, the Dogs (9.2) are second.
So can Bama fifth-year senior tailback Brian Robinson, a 1,000-yard rusher, establish a ground attack for the Tide?
Georgia is second, behind Wisconsin (66), at allowing only 81 rushing yards a game. Alabama is third, at 82. Both the Tide and Dogs allow 2.5 yards per rush, behind the No. 1 Badgers, at 2.2.
Both will have trouble running, which doesn’t bode well for Zamir White and James Cook, the two Georgia tailbacks who have combined for 1,272 yards and 17 TDs this season.
The Georgia offensive line will have its paws full, too, trying to deflect and derail Will Anderson, Bama’s sophomore linebacker who led the country with 26 tackles for a loss this season. His 13 sacks tied him, at the top, with Coastal Carolina’s Josaiah Stewart.
Ultimately, should Alabama fans be concerned about this particular game? Yes, says author Brad Edwards, who notes that in the previous six combined years the Tide won three SEC games by seven points or fewer.
This season, that was four.
Alabama Vs. Georgia Pick
This will resemble a tug-of-war in quicksand, a throwback to this series from decades ago. From 1953 through ’91, 21 consecutive Georgia–Bama games did not hit this total. Enjoy the time travel.
Our Pick: Under 50.5 (PointsBet)