Georgia and Alabama Set For a Top 5 Tilt in Tuscaloosa According to ESPN

Blayne Gilmer

Bulldog Maven has written before, in detail, about how Georgia's trip to Tuscaloosa in 2020 is more than just a regular-season game in the SEC. This contest on September 19th is one that will serve as a measuring stick for each program. Georgia has out recruited everyone, even Alabama by slim margins, in the past three cycles, but they're still looking to defeat the Crimson Tide and stake their claim to the true "top dawg" in the SEC.

Alabama will be looking to squelch any notion that the dynasty window is closing. The Tide will be attempting to shake the idea that the program without Tua Tagovailoa and several elite receivers will just not have the same stranglehold on college football dominance.

This is a battle of two titans taking place in the house that Bear Bryant built and that Nick Saban revived. ESPN's SP+, through the work of Bill Connelly, only bolsters the gravitas of the meeting by ranking Alabama number one coming into the 2020 campaign and Georgia just three slots down at fourth in the country.

The metric has Georgia predicted to be the best defense in the country and it is not even close. The Dawgs SP+ Defensive projection is 6.4. The lower the number the better in this metric and for reference, UGA's stellar defensive unit in 2019 finished with an SP+ defensive rating of 10.0. That was good enough for the best in the country. The next closest in Connelly's preseason rankings for 2020 on defense is Oregon...at 11.8.

Conversely, Alabama's offensive number is greater than any other. Even with returning production accounting for over 50% of the metric's formula, the Tide still are projected to have the most potent and efficient offense in the country with a rating of 46.1. This is over a full point higher than that of Oklahoma, despite the Sooners playing in a defensively inept Big 12 conference.

Overall Alabama's SP+ mark of 30.9 put them over Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia who come in at 29.7, 27.0, and 25.8 respectfully.

It could be argued that Georgia's overall number is being hurt by the forumla's weight toward the previous year's performance, which is understandable. It's the hope of Dawg faithful everywhere that additions like Jamie Newman, Tre McKitty, Darnell Washington, Jermaine Burton, Arian Smith, Justin Robinson, Marcus Rosemy, Kendall Milton and more allow Georgia to vastly overshoot the predictions under the tutelage of Todd Monken.

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However, with a top-five battle between two SEC blue bloods, it seems that the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Yet again, Bama and UGA face-off as top-ranked opponents, with Georgia trying to fight their way back into a series that the Crimson Tide lead (40-25-4) winning the last 5 matchups. 

Though, the last time the Bulldogs were in Tuscaloosa- the third weekend of September in 2007 - Georgia topped Bama in a historic 26-23 Overtime victory, as Matthew Stafford hit Mikey Henderson on a 25-yard strike to end the ball game. A memory that is much sweeter than 2 & 26 to those that adore the Dawgs.

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