By Jon Sauber and Joe Spears | @JonSauber @joe_spears7
ATLANTA – The fourth championship game of the College Football Playoff era will be the first to feature teams from the same conference. When the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs meet in Mercedes-Benz Stadium Monday night, in the middle of Southeastern Conference territory, a national champion will be crowned.
Sports Capital Journalism Program graduate students Jon Sauber and Joe Spears have analyzed the factors and picked a winner.
Jon Sauber: Why Georgia Will Win
Coming into Monday’s national championship game, Nick Saban is 11-0 when the opposing head coach is one of his former assistants. He has an elite defense that has only allowed 91.8 rushing yards and 11.1 points per game. That defense only gave up six points to a potent Clemson offense in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. However, they haven’t faced a trio like the one Georgia boasts in their backfield. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have both rushed for over 1,000 yards this season and have become the most productive duo in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history with a total of 8,259 career yards. But the most talented running back on the Georgia roster might be freshman D’Andre Swift, who has rushed for 603 yards on only 77 carries. Expect Swift to be a difference maker on Monday night in relief of Chubb and Michel. That trio should be enough to put Georgia over the top for its first national championship since Herschel Walker’s freshman season in 1980.
Prediction: Georgia 23, Alabama 21
Joe Spears: Why Georgia will win
Alabama doesn’t have a whole lot of weaknesses. For the past 11 years, under Nick Saban, the Tide has established itself as the kings of college football winning four national championships and making an appearance in the College Football Playoff in each of its four years. So how do you beat Alabama? You can emulate Alabama and for Bulldog coach and former Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, that’s exactly what Georgia has done. The Bulldogs have a significant advantage over the Tide in the passing game. Freshman Jake Fromm, who has exceeded any expectations since becoming the starter in the victory at Notre Dame, gives Georgia the option to pass downfield. With the combination of senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel removing much of the pressure on Fromm, Alabama has not yet met an offense quite like this one.
Prediction: Georgia 24, Alabama 20