ATHENS, Ga. – One of the biggest matchups of the early part of the season turned into a blowout. In a performance that proved Alabama remains a force in the SEC, the No. 13 Crimson Tide routed No. 8 Georgia, 38-10, at Sanford Stadium.
Here are three thoughts on Alabama’s victory:
1. Georgia needs more from its quarterbacks
Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert entered the weekend looking like one of the best signal-callers in the SEC. Through four weeks, the Virginia transfer led the league in pass efficiency (201.0) and had thrown just two incompletions in his last two games. But Lambert didn’t look like an asset for Georgia on Saturday, in his first matchup against a strong defense.
Lambert struggled against the Crimson Tide’s talented front seven. In the first half he completed just 7 of 17 passes without a touchdown, a start so poor that head coach Mark Richt pulled Lambert in favor of Brice Ramsey on Georgia’s final series before the break. Richt tabbed Ramsey to start the second half, but the redshirt sophomore threw a pick-six to Alabama’s Eddie Jackson on his first pass. Jackson’s 50-yard return ballooned the Tide’s lead to 31-3, and Georgia never threatened again.
Ramsey and Lambert struggled (11 of 31, 106 yds, 0 TD, 3 INT combined) and Alabama’s defensive line limited Georgia’s normally prolific rushing attack, which didn’t get going until late in the second half. But at this point, neither Lambert nor Ramsey have proven they can perform against a quality defense. That’s a red flag or Georgia.
2. Don't count out Alabama
Perhaps Saturday’s result says more about Georgia than Alabama. After all, this was the Bulldogs first true test of the season, while the Tide faltered not long ago against the Rebels in Tuscaloosa. But SEC fans tend to have short memories. Let’s not forget that last year Alabama rebounded from a loss to Ole Miss to win the SEC and reach the College Football Playoff. There’s no reason to believe that scenario can’t repeat itself.
On Saturday, Alabama showed why it can be so dangerous. The Tide got a special teams touchdown from freshman defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who blocked a punt, picked the ball up and ran it in for the score late in the second quarter. The defense did a stellar job against a strong Bulldogs running attack. And on offense, stud running back Derrick Henry was his usual self, carrying 26 times for 148 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Jake Coker (11 of 16, 190 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT) looked as poised as he has all season.
Make no mistake, Alabama still has issues. Ole Miss exposed a secondary that continues to give up big plays. But with so much uncertainty in the SEC West, it’s far too early to write off Saban’s squad. Saturday’s performance was a reminder of how talented the Tide really are.
3. The SEC East remains Georgia’s best friend
If there’s a silver lining for Georgia fans, it’s this: Your team plays in the SEC East.
No, the Dawgs didn’t look like conference title contenders against Alabama. But let’s remember the teams that lie ahead on Georgia’s schedule. Tennessee has yet to prove it can win big games. Florida is beatable. Missouri had to squeak out a 9-6 win over UConn at home earlier this year. Couple those seemingly mediocre divisional foes with an underachieving Auburn squad, and it’s easy to see Georgia playing its way to Atlanta in December.
The schedule might be favorable, but it isn’t a cakewalk, and Richt’s program can’t forget to show up on certain weeks like it did on Saturday. But Georgia is still just a one-loss team. The league title game remains a viable goal.