TIDE TO WATCH: National Championship Game

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TIDE TO WATCH: National Championship Game

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban (Photo from University of Alabama Athletics)
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
(Photo from University of Alabama Athletics)


Who are the Crimson Tide players to watch for the College Football Playoff National Championship game featuring Georgia versus Alabama?



When one talks about the greatest college football coaches of all time, Nick Saban certainly ranks at the top alongside such names as Paul “Bear” Bryant, Joe Paterno, Eddie Robinson, Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier. In fact, with his five national championships, Saban trails only the legendary‘Bama coach, Bear Bryant, in that category as the Bear retired with six national crowns under his belt. Saban is 206-61-1 in his nine seasons at Alabama and enters Monday’s CFP National Championship Game with a 12-1 mark this season after upending defending champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game. What a matchup this should be with Saban going against his former defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart, for the top spot in college football this season!


This 6-2, 218-pound sophomore has ably guided the Crimson Tide’s attack for the past two seasons. Hurts, who can turn a broken play into first down yardage with his scrambling ability, has passed for 2,060 yards and 17 touchdowns this season while completing 61 percent of his attempts. He has also run for 808 yards and 8 touchdowns, his rushing total being second on the team behind tailback Damien Harris. The Georgia defense simply can’t allow Hurts to continually escape the pocket come Monday night in Mercedes-Benz.


By far Alabama’s leading receiver this season with 59 catches for 935 yards and four touchdowns, this 6-1,
190-pound junior, who is the older brother of UGA receiver Riley Ridley, has a knack for finding the open spot in opposing secondaries and, most certainly, the back end of the Bulldogs’ defense will have to perform superbly to limit Tide quarterback Hurts, Ridley and the rest of the Bama receiving corps.


Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) (Photo from University of Alabama Athletics)
Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (29)
(Photo from University of Alabama Athletics)



Winner of the Chuck Bednarik and Jim Thorpe awards as the nation’s top defensive player and defensive back, the 6-1, 202-pound Fitzpatrick is a unanimous All-America selection who has recorded 52 tackles and six tackles-for-loss this season despite being slowed by injury. The Georgia offense simply can’t allow this talented safety to change the complexion of the national championship game with his evident big-play ability.


A true force in the Crimson Tide’s defensive front, this 6-7, 306-pound sophomore tackle has notched 64 tackles this season, third best on the team, along with 7.5 sacks and 9 tackles-for-loss. Davis is a disruptor of the first order and thus the Bulldogs’ offensive front has quite the challenge Monday night in keeping Davis from thwarting both the Georgia running and passing attacks.


Alabama offensive guard Ross Pierschbacher (71) (Photo from University of Alabama Athletics)
Alabama offensive guard Ross Pierschbacher (71)
(Photo from University of Alabama Athletics)



This first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection at left guard is instrumental in making the Alabama offense click. The 6-4, 303-pound junior will be a load for the Bulldogs’ defensive front and linebackers to deal with Monday night but, for sure, Georgia will have to neutralize Pierschbacher in order to be able to stymie the Crimson Tide attack.

JK SCOTT (P, #10)

Scott, a lanky 6-6, 204-pound punter and kickoff specialist, has been one of the top kickers in the country the past four seasons. The Alabama career leader in total punt yardage, he’s averaged 42.4 yards a kick this season with 25 of his 48 punts going dead inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. He also has 43 touchbacks this season with his kickoffs. Like Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship and punter Cameron Nizialek, Scott could play a major role in Monday night’s championship tilt.




Recent Articles by Murray Poole


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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.