The last time these two Southeastern Conference teams faced each other was almost 3 years ago in the 2012 SEC Championship game played down the road in the Georgia Dome in the ATL. The December 1st contest was a game for the ages with both teams trading punches and body blows. However, it was a game many Georgia fans would like to forget because of just how close they came to toppling the great Elephant and winning the Conference Championship which would have almost surely pitted the Bulldawgs against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Yes. UGA came 5 yards oh-so close, but “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades” as Frank Robinson was quoted in Time Magazine back in the day.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Now, these two college football powers meet again and very few players remain on either team that played in that conference championship game. Even the coaching staffs have changed to some degree or another. While not as big as a Conference Championship, Saturday’s game still is a big game, no matter how much the coaching staffs of each team try to play it down.
[su_spacer size=”40″] For Alabama, another loss would give them two on the season and would almost surely make them a long shot to win the SEC Western division which would pretty much knock them out of the College Football Playoffs and a chance to play for the National Championship game. Saban and the Tide have their backs up against the wall. They are a wounded Elephant and a dangerous one at that.
[su_spacer size=”40″] For Georgia, while a loss would be their first of the season and not necessarily eliminate them from winning the SEC East, it is still a big game. Why? It is a measuring stick for the University of Georgia football program and where they are at. How far have they come from that 2012 SEC Championship loss? A win would be a step in the right direction for Coach Richt and Georgia. It would put the Bulldawgs at 5-0 on the season and a serious contender for the College Football Playoffs. They would be in control of their destiny to winning the Eastern division and a trip to the 2015 SEC Championship game.
[su_spacer size=”40″] And to be honest, it would just feel darn good as a fan and for the whole program to beat Nick Saban and company.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Let’s take a look at the keys to the game for Georgia.
Play good enough to not only beat Alabama but Mother Nature[su_spacer size=”40″] As of this minute that I’m smacking these keys on this laptop around, the weather forecasters are calling for a 60% chance of rain to a 100% chance of rain amounting from anywhere from 2 to 3 inches to as much as 7 inches of H20 . . . depending on which weather forecasting service you are tuned into.
[su_spacer size=”40″] In other words, the chances are pretty good that it is going to be wet; which means the ball is going to be wet . . . which mean ball security could be an issue. Georgia must do their best to mitigate that being an issue. Securing and protecting the ball will be key. Of course, the wet weather will also affect Alabama. The key will be Georgia winning the turnover battle here because I don’t expect the Bulldawgs to be perfect in the conditions predicted for Saturday.
[su_spacer size=”40″] The wet weather will also affect the field conditions and footing. Kickers and punters rely on precise footwork and steps to get off their kicks with accuracy and power. I expect if it rains as much as the forecasters predict, we could see both teams struggle in the kicking game because both Alabama and Georgia have had some inconsistencies on special teams this season.
[su_spacer size=”40″] A weather affected game could be a low scoring, messy affair where turnovers, field position and special teams being a factor in determining the winner of this match-up. Whichever team handles those conditions and does the better job of prevailing against Mother Nature will have an edge.
Win the battle in the trenches[su_spacer size=”40″] Rain or shine, one of the keys to this game is going to be the battle between the big men down in the trenches. Can Georgia’s offensive line push Alabama’s defensive line back off the line of scrimmage and create gaps and running lanes for Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Keith Marshall. Can they negate the Crimson Tide pass rush enough to give Lambert time to throw the ball?
[su_spacer size=”40″] On the other side of the ball can the Bulldawg’s front seven push back Alabama’s offensive line and make Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, and Damien Harris or Bo Scarbrough run into “trash?” Can the defensive linemen get the attention of most of Alabama’s blockers to where the linebackers just have to shed or get by one blocker to make a play? Can the defense hold up for four quarters?
[su_spacer size=”40″] Georgia has the ability to be able to that. They certainly have the talent and experience on the offensive line. The Bulldawgs are also in better shape and are better conditioned this year. I haven’t seen a Georgia player go down with a cramp or have to go to the locker room for fluids. They also have more talented depth on the front seven, even if it is young depth.
[su_spacer size=”40″] If Georgia can control the line of scrimmage especially going into the fourth quarter, they stand a good chance of putting up a “W” on the board.
Convert Third Downs and Sustain Drives[su_spacer size=”40″] Both Alabama and Georgia have struggled converting third downs on offense. For the year, Alabama has converted 21 of 57 for 36.84% and Georgia has converted 11 for 31 for 35.48%. Georgia has done a better job of not getting into third down situations, but when they do in this game, the Bulldawgs need to convert and keep the chains moving.
Bulldawg Bob’s Prognostication[su_spacer size=”40″] After all is said and done. After the build-up and hype, how do I see this one playing out? I think both teams are pretty evenly matched as far as talent that they can field. I would give the edge to Alabama’s defense, but I give Georgia the edge on offense. I think special teams are a wash … no pun intended. I also think Georgia has the edge at QB.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Something just tells me from watching both these teams play so far this season, that Georgia will outlast Alabama in a heavy weight four quarter battle royal. Georgia Director of strength and Conditioning Mark Hocke and how he has helped develop and condition this Bulldawg team may end up being the biggest deciding factor in this game.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Give me Georgia 27 – 21 over Alabama, but if the weather is nasty as they say it is going to be, both teams may struggle to put 20 on the board.
GAME DAY INFO[su_spacer size=”10″]
Date: Saturday, October 3rd, 2015
Location: Athens, GA, Sanford Stadium[su_spacer size=”20″]
SEC Nation in Meyers Quad at 10:30 AM ET
Pregame Broadcast begins at 11:30 AM ET
Gates open at 2:00 PM ET
Dawg Walk at 2:05 PM ET
Kickoff at 3:30 PM ET[su_spacer size=”20″]
Televised on CBS
Play-by-play: Verne Lundqvist
Color commentator: Gary Danielson
Sideline reporter: Allie LaForce
Live stream available on CBSSports.com[su_spacer size=”40″]
Listen on the Bulldog Radio Network[su_spacer size=”20″]
Listen to the Game on Audio Stream[su_spacer size=”20″]
Play-by-play: Scott Howard
Color commentator: Eric Zeier
Sideline reporter: Chuck Dowdle[su_spacer size=”40″] [su_document url=”http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/geo/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2015-16/depth_chart_event/depth_chart.pdf”] [su_spacer size=”40″]
For more game info, check out:[su_spacer size=”20″] GEORGIADOGS.COM – University of University of Georgia Official Athletic Site – Football