National Championship Football 2022
CFB Playoff Recap + Bama-UGA Preview
After two semifinal games that ended in blowouts, Monday's National Championship looks to be quite the heavyweight battle between Alabama and Georgia.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are the nation's number team, yet they come into the national championship as an underdog. However, the last time these two teams met, Alabama came in as the underdog, and they whooped Georgia in the SEC Championship.
Now, after both teams blew out their semifinal opponents, they meet once again in Indianapolis for a chance at a National Championship. Before I get into the preview, let's see how each team got to this point.
CFP Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl
Alabama: 27, Cincinnati: 6
Jake's Pick: BAMA
Bama's Defense Is Legit:
While Cincy's defense did a great job pressuring Bryce Young and making him uncomfortable in the pocket, the offense couldn't get anything going against a more athletic Bama defense. As a team, the Bearcats could only manage 74 rushing yards and 218 total yards of offense. Desmond Ridder couldn't find any rhythm, finishing 17 of 32 with only 144 passing yards, and was sacked six times. Guys like Will Anderson and Phil Mathis caused the offensive line to have many problems upfront. In other words, the Bearcats were screwed from the very beginning.
Brian Robinson Stole the Show:
Despite QB Bryce Young throwing three TDs, the running game stole the game. If you've been keeping up with college football season, you would know that Bama's running game has been inconsistent all year, but it finally showed up on New Year's Eve. Alabama's game plan from the start was to pound the football and keep the ball away from the Bearcat secondary led by Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and Coby Bryant. Brian Robinson did just that as the fifth-year senior rushed for a whopping 204 yards on 26 carries.
"I'm really, really proud of our team, our players. I think they showed great competitive character out there," said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "Guys showed a lot of resiliency all year to be able to have the opportunity to get to this game." In his 15th season at Alabama, Saban has six national titles overall and can capture yet another title.
CFP Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl
Georgia: 34, Michigan: 11
Jake's Pick: UGA
Georgia Overpowers Michigan:
A game that many people, myself included, thought would be a low-scoring defensive battler turned into a bloodbath quickly. Stetson Bennett threw for three TDs, Georgia's defense overpowered the number one offensive line in the nation, as the Dawgs crushed the Wolverines, 34-11. Michigan seemed doomed from the start as they couldn't get anything going on first down. Don't get me wrong, Michigan is a great team, and they deserved to get to this point, but they didn't belong on the same field as Georgia. Georgia's defense led by Nakobe Dean destroyed Michigan's offensive line and helped pave the way for their offense to shred Aiden Hutchinson and the stout Michigan defense.
Stetson Bennett Proves His Worth:
Leading up to the game, many people questioned Kirby Smart's decision to keep QB Stetson Bennett at the helm after struggling in the SEC Championship. Instead of backing JT Daniels, Smart continued to put his faith in the former walk-on, and he delivered when it mattered most. Bennett finished 20-30 for 313 yards and three TDs, against a Michigan defense led by the potential first overall pick in this year's NFL draft.
Another player that stepped up was James Cook. The brother of Dalvin Cook, the running back, led the team to receive 112 yards and a TD.
Overall, both Alabama and Georgia proved that they are the two best teams in the country, and they look forward to facing off for the second time this season.
CFP National Championship pres. by AT&T
3) Georgia Bulldogs (13-1) vs. 1) Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1)
Monday, Jan. 10, 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN Line: UGA -2.5
Can Georgia and Kirby Smart Finally Flip the Script?
Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs have a chance to rewrite history as they look to capture their first National title since 1980. However, they have to get past Alabama, a team in which they can't seem to get past. Since coming to Georgia from Alabama in 2015, Smart is 0-4 against Nick Saban, including Georgia's 41-24 loss to Bama in the SEC title game.
This game is crucial to Smart's history, who came to Georgia to win championships. In 2017, Smart led the Dawgs to an undefeated season and played Bama in the national championship, only to fall short in overtime, thanks to the emergence from a guy named Tua. Up to this smart, Smart's success at Georgia is overshadowed by his failure to win the big game. That all can change if Georgia can find a way to get past Saban and the mighty Crimson Tide.
Georgia's Defense vs. Bryce Young
In Georgia's last meeting with Bama, Bryce Young torched their dominant defense as the Heisman Trophy winner passed for 421 yards and 3TDs, with the majority of his success coming in the first half. The second half was a different story, as Georgia changed their game plan on defense and forced Young into trouble.
The key to beating Bryce Young is to make him uncomfortable; make him roll out of the pocket, as he is not known entirely for his mobility. We've seen teams like Auburn, LSU, and Texas A&M execute the right game plan to beat the Heisman Trophy winner; A&M is responsible for Bama's only loss of the season, and Auburn's defense dominated for three quarters. The Dawgs are more than capable of putting pressure on the QB. Guys like Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, Nakobe Dean, and Nolan Smith are all more than capable of making Young feel uncomfortable. It won't be easy, as they'll have to contend with Bama's o-line consisting of a potential top-five draft pick, Evan Neal.
Can Stetson Bennett Lead Georgia Past Bama?
Stetson Bennett came into the 2021 season unsure whether or not he wanted to stay at Georgia. With JT Daniels expecting to get most of the snaps at quarterback, it seemed likely that Bennett was going to transfer. However, he chose to stay, and the rest is history. Bennett took over after Daniels had an injury, leading the Dawgs to an undefeated season. Even with many people suggesting that Bennett can't win the big game, he proved all the haters wrong as he led the Dawgs past Michigan for a chance at redemption against Bama. "Maybe I'm not capable of holding that weight on my shoulders, but, no, I'm just treating it as a football game," Bennett said in an article from FOX. "Do I know that means a lot to a lot of people? Yes. Am I trying to play some savior by winning a national championship for millions of people? No. I don't think that's my job." According to Bennett, his job is to go out there and play the game he loves.
Underdogs, Yet Again
This season, Alabama comes into their matchup against UGA as the underdog for the second time. While the narrative is foreign to Nick Saban, the game plan remains the same. Despite being underdogs in the SEC Championship, the Tide rolled to a 41-24 win over the Dawgs. No one seems to handle the big moments better than Alabama as they are looking for their seventh title in the Nick Saban era.
Can Bryce Young Torch Georgia, Again?
Bryce Young stole the show in their last meeting with Georgia with his near-flawless performance. While it's more than likely that Georgia won't let Young have that kind of game again, Bama can find a way to open up the passing game. It helps to have a healthy Brian Robinson back in the lineup as the running back ran all over Cincinnati in the semifinal game with over 200 rushing yards. I think having a healthy Robinson in the backfield will open it up for Young to spread the ball around to guys like Slade Bolden, Ja'Corey Brooks, and the speedy Jameson Williams.
Can Nick Saban Continue his Success Over Kirby Smart?
It's no secret that before Kirby Smart became the head coach at Georgia, he spent eight years as an assistant under Saban at Alabama, where he worked as the defensive coordinator for seven seasons. Since Smart left Bama, Saban is 0-4 against his former assistant, and before Jimbo Fisher beat him this past season, he had never lost to a former assistant. Nick Saban has a chance to continue his dominance against Smart, yet again, as he goes for his eighth career title and seventh with Bama.
I see this game being an absolute thriller of a contest. Just like the 2017 Championship, it will be one for the ages. I think Georgia's defense has the capability of winning them the title; however, I'm not quite sure if Stetson Bennett can lead his team past Bama.
I see Alabama LB Will Anderson being the main difference-maker in the game. As a sophomore, Anderson is already being compared to Von Miller's likes, and he sees him creating chaos in the Georgia backfield. I see Brian Robinson getting it going for Bama, and Bryce Young will throw safe passes under the offense of Bill O'Brien.
I see this game revolving around the defense, and it will come down to the wire. Ultimately, I don't see the Dawgs getting it done, and Bama will get its seventh title under Nick Saban.
Pick: BAMA (30-26)
Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, all things MLB, and more from Jake.
Follow him on Twitter @jake_klausner
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