|-5.5 ALA (-110) @ Fanduel|
My CFB 10* "Signature" LEGEND Play is on Alabama at 8:00 ET.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: I posted this play BEFORE the news that Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19. The line has dropped since the news and quite honestly, I like the play even more. Saban has prepared his team for a game like this and I expect there be to be a "Win one for the Gipper" mentality running through the veins of all Alabama players. As they say in golf, "Play Away!"
Four of the nation's 10 college football conferences decided not to play fall football this season back in August, including the Big Ten and the Pac 12. While those conferences have reversed their decisions, none of those teams have yet to begin play (that changes very soon). The Big Ten and Pac 12 featured schools in the AP preseason top-25, so the fall out from that has been WAY fewer early season matchups between top25 opponents. In fact, there have been just 10 games played so far in 2020 in which top-25 opponents have squared off. The paucity of top-25 matchups continues this Saturday, with just ONE game featuring top-25 opponents. However, it's fair to say it's a "Big One," as No. 3 Georgia visits No. 2 Alabama Saturday night (8:00 ET on CBS) in Tuscaloosa.
These two national powers haven't met in the regular season since 2015 and believe it or not, the last time the Bulldogs played in Tuscaloosa was 2007. That happened to be Nick Saban's first season with Alabama and Georgia won 26-23 in OT. Saban's first season didn't go very well, as Alabama ended the regular season with a 6–6 record, including a four-game losing streak, featuring a particularly humiliating loss at home to ULM-Monroe and a SIXTH straight loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide did defeat Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl 30–24, to end the year 7–6. Just in case you may be unaware, Saban's done pretty well since then. I don't have time to chronicle his entire record but will note that Saban's won FIVE national s]championships at Alabama since his first, back in 2009 (his third season at Tuscaloosa). Georgia knows all about competing for a national title in that same time frame but the Bulldogs have yet to capture a single title since winning the 1980 national championship led by a freshman Herschel Walker. Ohio State and Georgia were crowned national champions back in 1942 and Georgia claims it as so in its record books. In fairness, Georgia defeated UCLA in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1943, as NINE ranking authorities listed in the NCAA record books placed the Bulldogs as No. 1. However, don't try to 'sell' that to Ohio St, which Ohio State was named No. 1 in the final AP Poll at the end of November and did not make a bowl appearance. Now to Saturday's game.
The Bulldogs expected Wake Forest graduate transfer Janmie Newman to lead its offense in 2020 but he "opted out" before the start of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Stepping in is junior Stetson Bennett, who had just 27 pass attempts in 2019 for the Bulldogs. He's completed 63.1% for 689 yards through three games, throwing five TDs, while NOT throwing an interception in 84 attempts. His "go-to" receiver is Jackson, who has 19 catches (15.8 YPC( and one TD. A trio of other WRs have combined for 19 catches as well, averaging only 10.2 YPC. The running game is averaging 172.0 YPG but only 3.8 YPC. White is the team's top RB and he's scored four TDs but has a modest 209 yards and averages just 3.9 YPC. Georgia owns an excellent defense, which helped them open 2-0 with a 37-10 win at Arkansas and a 27-6 home win over then-No. 7 Auburn. Georgia found itself down 21-17 to Tennessee at the half last Saturday but scored 27 points in the second half, while its defense allowed only 71 yards and four FDs after halftime. The Bulldogs held the Volunteers, who came in ranked 14th to minus-1 yard on 27 rushes.
That Georgia defense ranks first nationally in rushing defense (38.3 YPG), second in total defense (236.7 YPG) and is tied for fifth in scoring defense (12.3 PPG) but will surely be tested by Alabama's offense Saturday night, as the Crimson Tide lead the nation with an average of 51.0 PPG (note: Alabama put up 723 yards last Saturday vs Ole Miss!). QB Mac Jones has seamlessly replaced Tua, completing 79.5% for 1,101 yards (that's 367 per) with eight TD passes and just one INT. He is the national leader in passing efficiency with a QB rating of 220.3. I took the "big points" (24.5 to be exact) last Saturday with Ole Miss against Alabama and easily cashed. Alabama led just 49-45 with under 3 1/2 minutes, before winning 63-48. I wrote in that game analysis that Alabama's running offense had struggled through its first two games, averaging only 110.0 YPG on 3.4 YPC. However, that all changed last Saturday, as Najee Harris rushed for 206 yards and a school-record five TDs. (he now has 10 TDs after just three games / he ran for 1,224 yards on 5.9 YPF with 13 TDs last season). WR Jeudy is now in the NFL but wideouts DeVonta Smith ( 68 catches / 14 TDs in 2019) and Jaylen Waddle are back. Smith leads with 27 catches and Waddle has 19, averaging 20.8 YPC. Then there is Mitchie, who has a more modest 11 catches but averages 27.1 YPC!
There is no denying that Alabama's defense is not up to past standards (it's not even close!).The Alabama D had been 'soft' the first two games, allowing 386.0 YPG, compared to 294 YPG the previous seven seasons. It then got BLASTED last Saturday, as the Tide gave up a school record 643 yards to fast-paced Ole Miss. However, Georgia's offense is pedestrian compared to that of Ole Miss. In fact, Bennett was the Bulldogs' fourth choice at QB in the offseason. However, first Newman opted out of the season, USC transfer J.T. Daniels wasn't medically cleared for the opener and D'Wan Mathis lasted only 17 passes as the starter before Bennett got his shot. The record is clear, Saban is 21-0 against his former assistants, after besting Lane Kiffin last Saturday. 'Bama was laying more than three TDs against Ole Miss, so a 15 point win was NOT enough to "get the ca$h! Alabama has won the last FIVE meetings with Georgia, with current Georgia head coach Kirby Smith, who was an Alabama assistant under Saban from 2007 to 2015, going 0-2. In the first 'Titanic' matchup of the 2020 college football season, Saban moves to 22-0 against his former assistants, while Smart falls to 0-3 against his former boss and the margin will be "significantly" higher than the posted pointspread. Roll Tide!
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