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Alabama vs. Georgia: Five numbers that will decide College Football Playoff championship
Alabama (12-1) meets Georgia (13-1) in the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, an all-SEC matchup between traditional rivals.
It’s a chance for Nick Saban to win his fifth national championship with the Crimson Tide, and sixth overall. It’s also an opportunity for former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to lead the Bulldogs to their first national championship since 1980.
MORE: SEC among college football’s biggest bowl winners
Here are five numbers that will help decide the national championship game between Alabama and Georgia:
Alabama hasn’t allowed more than 3.6 rushing yards per game this season, even in the loss to Auburn (3.4). Clemson, which came into the College Football Playoff semifinal averaging 194.1 yards per game this season, averaged 1.9 yards per carry. If you can’t run the ball on Alabama, then you’re in trouble. Georgia averages 7.0 yards per rushing attempt behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, backs who took over the Rose Bowl Game victory against Oklahoma. That’s where this game starts.
In five championship games under Saban, Alabama totaled 211 rushing attempts for 979 yards — an average of 4.6 yards per carry. Texas, LSU, Notre Dame and Clemson couldn’t stop the Tide’s running game. The Tigers managed to hold Alabama to 42 carries for 141 yards and zero scores in last week’s Sugar Bowl. If Georgia is allowing 4.6 yards per carry, given the Crimson Tide’s methodical style, this game could travel down a familiar path.
AL-KHATEEB: Alabama proves playoff worthiness against Clemson
Alabama’s Jalen Hurts has just one interception this season. The Crimson Tide don’t commit a lot of turnovers, so Georgia’s best bet is in coverage. In Hurts’ two losses as a starter, he’s 26 of 57 passing, (45.6 completion percentage), and averaged just 154 passing yards in those games. Hurts was 16 of 24 for 120 yards and two touchdowns against Clemson.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm quietly ranks fifth nationally in pass efficiency (166.4). He finished with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions with a 63.7 completion percentage. Fromm had a season-high 20 completions in the victory against Oklahoma, however, and the Bulldogs are 5-0 when he has 15 or more completions. This will be a game where Fromm needs more than 15 completions, considering he’s up against an Alabama defense that ranks second nationally in pass efficiency defense (98.9). Alabama allowed an FBS-low seven passing touchdowns this season.
HOOVER: OU’s championship performance wasn’t enough against Georgia
That’s the combined score of Saban’s 11 victories against former assistants Derek Dooley, Jim McElwain, Will Muschamp, Mark Dantonio and Jimbo Fisher. SB Nation has an excellent breakdown of those games, and the 24-7 victory against Florida State and Jimbo Fisher in the opener is the latest example. Smart spent nine years with Saban at Alabama, which makes this the most enticing matchup yet.