The SEC’s conference-only schedule continues to churn out powerhouse matchups, but Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa has the makings of an SEC-title game preview. The Georgia Bulldogs, currently No. 3 in the nation, have been winning games on the backs of their defense. However, that defense hasn’t seen a test like the offensive juggernaut that is the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. Both squads are undefeated at 3-0.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 P.M. Eastern on CBS. Alabama is a four-point favorite. Georgia is (+138) on the moneyline, while Alabama is (-182).
GEORGIA PREVIEW – SLOW THE GAME DOWN
The Georgia defense has been nothing short of excellent through the first three games of the season. Last week they held No. 14 Tennessee to 214 yards in a 44-21 victory; the week before, they held No. 7 Auburn to 216 yards in a 27-6 beatdown. As a unit, the Bulldogs rank fifth in the nation in points allowed per game at 12.3, second in yards per game at 236.7, and first in rushing yards allowed per game at 38.3.
Those stats look great on their own, but they look even more impressive knowing they played two Top 25 teams in their three games. However, Alabama’s offense, who ranks third in total yardage, second in passing yards, and first in scoring, will likely provide the toughest test the Georgia defense will see this season.
Sophomore linebacker Azeez Ojulari leads the team with three sacks and three forced fumbles. He has a nose for the ball and is tied for third on the team in tackles. Eric Stokes and Richard LeCounte each have two interceptions; Stokes returned one of his for a touchdown.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Georgia defense is the only capable unit. The Bulldog offense is loaded with talent as well. Sophomore running back Zamir White has 209 yards and four touchdowns this season, while freshman Kendall Milton is averaging more than six yards per carry. Sophomore wide receiver Kearis Jackson ranks in the Top 25 of college football receivers with 300 yards in three games.
The Bulldogs will win if they keep Alabama’s offense off the field, both through stingy defensive play and an effective running game. Controlling the clock will be crucial for Georgia’s success.
ALABAMA PREVIEW – THE TIDE HAS CHANGED
Historically, Alabama has been the type of team to win games with a stout defense and a power running game. This season, however, the Crimson Tide’s winning formula revolves around their trio of excellent receivers.
Junior wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and senior receiver DeVonta Smith have both eclipsed the 300-yard mark, while sophomore John Metchie III is just shy at 298. The trio has seven touchdowns between them, and quarterback Mac Jones has completed 79.5% of his passes with only one interception against 1,101 yards and eight scores.
Watch out for versatile running back Najee Harris as well. Harris has rushed for 347 yards and ten touchdowns, averaging nearly seven yards per carry; he also has seven catches for 76 yards.
Alabama’s defense hasn’t been as dominant as in years past. While the Tide are 3-0, they allowed 48 points to Ole Miss last Saturday. Alabama’s offense was good enough to maintain a lead in the 63-48 win, but they won’t put up 63 points against Georgia.
The Crimson Tide will need to force Georgia to turn the ball over. Alabama has a +1 turnover differential, with two fumbles and two interceptions. Opposing offenses are refusing to throw to Patrick Surtain II’s side of the field. I’m predicting he gets his first interception of the season this week.
SEASON BETTING PERFORMANCE
Georgia is 2-1 against the spread, and the week where they didn’t cover, they missed it by one point. They have hit the over once in 2020.
Alabama is 1-2 against the spread, though they benched starters in the opener with a 35-point lead, allowing Missouri to claw back enough to cover. The Tide have exceeded the over in every game.
THE PICK IS IN – UPSET ALERT
Alabama has won the last five meetings between the two schools, including the 2017 National Championship. The Bulldogs’ last win against the Tide came on the road in 2007. Alabama’s offense is elite, but so is Georgia’s defense. In the “Unstoppable Force vs. Immovable Object” matchup, something’s gotta give. This game could come down to the final play, and given how close it should be, I’m taking Georgia (+138) on the moneyline, but if you’re not as confident in the Bulldogs, Georgia (+4) is still a great play.
FREE PICK: Georgia (+138) on the moneyline.