After a miraculous, marvelous win out west, the Georgia Bulldogs get to stick at home to play for a big trophy.
It makes sense that Georgia has to play Alabama. It’s the football program they’re trying to become. It’s the program that schooled their head coach. It’s the program that has set the standard for winning in the entire sport.
And, yes, if Georgia is to be the man, they’ve got to beat the man. They’ve got to beat the mighty Crimson Tide to win a national championship.
Many will say it’s impossible. Alabama has the experience, the coach and the talent that should make Georgia cower down and not even show up Monday night. Alabama will be crowned the champion time and time again by national analysts.
Well, Georgia will show up. The Bulldogs are also a great team, and there is no reason for the Georgia players (or the fans) to think they can’t win. Who cares what Alabama has done in the past. Who cares who their coach is or how much he’s won.
This is about this year, this Georgia team.
After last Monday, why should Georgia think it can’t beat Alabama? Heck, bouncing back from a 17-point deficit to Oklahoma on that Rose Bowl field should make Georgia think it could beat the New England Patriots, much less some team to its west.
Oh, but Alabama has Nick Saban, and Kirby Smart is just in his second season at Georgia. Again, who cares. This is why Smart was brought to Athens. He’s not going just to show up and say Georgia made it. Smart is going there to win a championship.
Alabama has a great defense, much different than what Oklahoma had. We all know that. But what about the issues at linebacker? One of their best, Anfernee Jennings, is out. Can that give Georgia an advantage?
Let’s see what Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel can do. They may not get 326 yards, like they did last Monday against a porous Oklahoma defense. But they won’t be limited to 64 yards, either. That’s how many Clemson got last Monday night against Alabama. If that happens, Georgia will lose.
The only time Georgia lost this year, the running game was shut down. Auburn held Georgia to 46 yards on 32 carries on Nov. 11. Well, sure, that won’t work against any team. But something has changed since that game. Georgia’s offensive line hasn’t been pushed around again, and it will hold its own Monday against the mammoths that play for the opponent.
Let others doubt Jake Fromm. You know it will happen. They’ll say he’s a freshman, that he can’t handle this big game. Laugh as they say that and remember what Fromm has done all season. South Bend. Knoxville. Jacksonville. The rematch with Auburn. Pasadena. He’s handled it all, and everyone has confidence in the kid from Houston County.
In fact, one week after being better than the Heisman Trophy winner, why can’t Fromm be better than Jalen Hurts on Monday? Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who will head to Knoxville next week to lead Tennessee, will try to disrupt Fromm. It’ll be a waste of time.
What about that Georgia defense? What will Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter do against Hurts and his skilled skill players?
The Bulldogs defense was a little nervous early on last Monday, but once the second half rolled around they showed why they’ve been one of the best units in the country. They shut down Baker Mayfield, and Hurts is nothing close to Mayfield. Hurts is very different, but the Bulldogs have handled running quarterbacks all season.
Just so long as Calvin Ridley, Alabama’s best receiver, doesn’t go nuts on the Georgia secondary, the Bulldogs are going to contain the Crimson Tide offense. Sure, Alabama has some good running backs, but what have the Bulldogs done all season against running teams?
Alabama might win the game, but Georgia is the better team. They’ve got an offense that will run all day if it can, and if not, the Bulldogs quarterback will do what he must do to put points on the board. And that Georgia defense … well, it’s the type of defense that wins championships.
It’s time. This team is ready. It’s the right coach, the right players. This team of destiny must beat Alabama to make the story complete. Georgia will win 27-20 Monday to win the National Championship.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.