College Football Game of the Week: Georgia vs. Alabama
In a matchup that could ultimately shape the landscape of the College Football Playoff picture, No. 3 Georgia (3-0) travels to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 2 Alabama on Oct. 17 in a primetime battle on CBS at 8 p.m.
Kirby Smart may have his most complete team taking the field against the Crimson Tide and it all starts with his defense, which is looked upon as one of the top units in the country.
However, through three games, the offense has been able to take some of that pressure off of the defense in comparison to years past, and it all starts with the emergence of quarterback Stetson Bennett.
J.T. Daniels transferred to Georgia from USC and hasn’t taken a snap yet due to an ACL injury suffered last season. D’Wan Mathis underperformed against Arkansas and then Bennett came onto the scene.
In three games, Bennett has completed 53 passes on 84 attempts for 689 yards and five touchdowns, while also adding one rushing touchdown as well.
Zamir White has been the bell cow in the Bulldog backfield so far and has been picking up hard-earned yards, even though his yards-per-carry is low at 3.9. White has rushed for 209 yards on 54 carries and has hit paydirt four times.
At wide receiver, Kearis Jackson has been getting most of the touches as his 19 receptions for 300 yards leads all Bulldog pass catchers in that category. George Pickens has just eight receptions for 87 yards, but his ability to high-point the ball has led to two scores.
Georgia’s defense is ranked second in the nation for total defense and there is no mistaking that they are absolutely worthy of that spot giving up and average of just 236.7 yards per game.
Senior linebacker Monty Rice leads all players with 18 tackles and five other defensive players also have over 10 tackles. Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning’s troops play with an aggressive mentality and always seem to have a nose for the ball on every single play.
Sophomore linebacker Nolan Smith has racked up 1.5 sacks and leads the Bulldogs in that statistic. Smith has proven time and time again that he will be a disruptive force for years to come.
The secondary is anchored by ball hawking defensive backs Richard Lecounte and Eric Stokes. The duo has combined for four interceptions and Mark Webb has also added an interception for a defense that loves to create turnovers.
As for the opposition, Alabama is once again one of the top teams in the nation and they have held that spot due in part to an explosive offense led by quarterback Mac Jones.
The Jacksonville native has completed 66 passes on 83 attempts for 1,101 yards alongside eight touchdowns and one interception.
Najee Harris has already begun his Heisman campaign and the senior running back is in prime position to run all over opposing defenses. His 347 yards on 52 carries and 10 touchdown stat-line is impressive considering that only three games have been played.
The wideout trio of Jaylen Waddle, Devonta Smith and John Metchie III have given Jones reliable vertical threats as they have teamed up for 57 receptions, 1,010 yards and seven touchdowns.
Alabama’s defense got gashed for 647 yards against Ole Miss last weekend and it begs the question as to whether they have some glaring issues on that side of the ball.
Simply put that they will rebound in some capacity this week because Georgia’s offense isn’t remotely close to explosive like Lane Kiffin’s offense.
Dylan Moses, Jordan Battle and Christian Harris each have over 20 tackles and seven other players have over 10 tackles. So, it’s safe to say that Alabama’s defense, like Georgia, can follow the ball with ease and make plays.
Defensive backs Daniel Wright and Malachi Moore each have an interception and Wright’s interception was a 47-yard pick-six against Texas A&M.
This matchup presents one of the top defensive units going to battle against one of the top offensive units. The question that persists, however, is which unit will reign superior. Quite frankly, it could go either way.
Look for both teams to come out of the gate flying faster than a lap at Talladega and for that Georgia defense to test the Alabama offense almost immediately.
Georgia will have revenge on its mind from the previous two meetings and this is perhaps the most talented Bulldogs team in quite some time.
This game has the makings of yet another instant classic, where points will be scored in bunches and the two sides will meet again in the SEC Championship game.
Prediction: Georgia 35, Alabama 34
Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.