The game of the year in college football is upon us. Initially scheduled for Sept. 19 before the pandemic struck, this Georgia-Alabama matchup in Tuscaloosa has now had even more time for anticipation to build.
As we always do on Dawgs Daily on SI.com, here are our score predictions as a staff.
Brooks Austin : Lead Editor
Alabama 34, Georgia 31
It is the game of the 2020 season in college football between No. 2 and No. 3, and everyone wants to talk about the matchup between Georgia's defense and Alabama's offense. Arguably, both could be considered the best in the nation, certainly in the SEC. However, from this seat, the most significant question in this game is whether Georgia's offense is ready to score an abundance of points and do so quickly if necessary.
Just four weeks into the season following a condensed offseason, we haven't witnessed the full complexity of the new system implemented by coordinator Todd Monken. When it's time for the SEC Championship Game, that will have changed. Bold prediction: These teams will play at least twice this season and Georgia will win the second matchup.
Kyle Funderburk: Lead Writer
Georgia 20, Alabama 14
Alabama might have the flashier offense, but this is still the SEC; physicality trumps all. Georgia's offensive and defensive lines will prove pivotal in a close, 60-minute battle Saturday night.
Jordan Davis and the defensive line will force Alabama's Najee Harris and Brian Robinson to season lows on the ground, making the Crimson Tide one-dimensional on offense. Georgia's defensive backs will play well enough against the trio of superstar receivers to limit Alabama to just a pair of touchdowns. Expect a turnover or two to be forced by Georgia's pass rush.
The Bulldogs' offensive line will control the tempo with help from Monken opening up the playbook and making some interesting personnel decisions (more Kendall Milton, George Pickens playing in the slot at the minimum). Quarterback Stetson Bennett won't do anything spectacular, but he will avoid mistakes and take what the defense gives him. Jack Podlesney will be clutch with a pair of field goals, including one late to force Alabama to go on a touchdown drive.
Jonathan Williams: Staff Writer
Georgia 27, Alabama 21
It’s hard to gauge who should be favored in this matchup because both teams are very talented, but also have areas in their game that they are still working on. Georgia comes in with arguably the nation's best defense and a pretty solid offense, and Alabama is bringing one of the nation’s best offenses, but the defense is questionable. Establishing a run game will be huge for Georgia to find success in their offense, and now that we are in Week 4, Georgia’s offensive line should play well and give the running backs room to work. On the defensive side, the Bulldogs will force Tide quarterback Mac Jones to make plays with his arm, and that will be the deciding factor in the game and what will allow Georgia to head back to Athens with a win.
Chris Allen: Fixer of Brooks' Mistakes
Georgia 31, Alabama 27
Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean is the player to watch Saturday. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We’ll find out under the lights in Tuscaloosa, but being bold, the Dawgs will continue their streak and keep Alabama running back Najee Harris out of the end zone, at least on the ground thanks to a monstrous game from Dean. The question surrounding the season is whether Stetson Bennett is enough? This corner says he will be. Head coach Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss hung 48 on the Tide last week, and while Georgia is no Ole Miss when the subject is offense, more of those points came due to lack of discipline and missed tackles than they did because of the offensive scheme. Stetson has been smart with the football and has escaped sacks. All Georgia needs to do is continue to impose its will at the line of scrimmage, play mistake-free football, and win this game 31-27, forcing a turnover on Bama’s final drive.
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