Another NCAA football season is almost in the books, with only one game left to decide the national title game matchup.
Legitimate cases for a title shot still can be made all the way down to the No. 4 Florida Gators. The Gators’ only loss was to the Georgia Bulldogs earlier this season, keeping them from playing for the conference championship. It also cost them a chance at the No. 2 ranking.
The Bulldogs are poised for a title shot if they can manage a victory over the Crimson Tide of Alabama in the SEC title game on Saturday.
The Gators, however, will remain on the outside looking in even after their impressive comeback win against Florida State, despite the fact that they may boast a stronger resume than both Alabama and Georgia.
When I think of the Bulldogs I can’t help but immediately think of their nine-point turnover performance against the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Bulldogs’ only win against a ranked opponent this entire season was against the Florida Gators, who coincidentally convincingly destroyed the Gamecocks.
If the Crimson Tide wins this matchup, they punch their ticket to Miami as well. The Tide lost to the Texas A&M Aggies, and let’s not forget they were completely manhandled until the final minutes of their matchup against LSU as well. It wasn’t until LSU head coach Les Miles’ decision-making blew the game for the Tigers in the waning minutes that they were able to eke out a victory.
In this Saturday’s SEC title game, we will see a matchup of two very similar teams who haven’t faced each other since 2008. Both of the teams run pro-style systems on offense and a 3-4 scheme on defense, while expecting their quarterbacks to efficiently manage the game.
In fact, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray leads the NCAA in passing efficiency with a rating of 177.5, while Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is second with a rating of 176.26 and has only thrown two interceptions all year.
“I think, philosophically, there are a lot of similarities,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said Sunday during a conference call with the Los Angeles Times. “There’s not a whole lot of tricks or gimmicks with us or them.”
Alabama remains the most complete team in college football, with some analysts claiming that Saban’s defense could hang with many NFL teams. Most importantly, they rarely, if ever, beat themselves.
That’s the mark of a championship team. I look for them to defeat the Bulldogs handily on Saturday, 42-21.
Notre Dame simply doesn’t possess enough offense to hang with either one of the SEC powerhouses who face off Saturday.
While Heisman-hopeful Manti Te’o has been a revelation on defense this year for the Irish, you need to score to win, and that is something the Irish have struggled with all year.
Notre Dame’s offensive woes combined with Alabama’s defense and efficiency should make for a fairly routine 38-22 victory for the Tide over the Irish in January.
Will Reeve is a sports columnist for the Echo and writes weekly about the landscape in professional sports.
Published Nov. 28, 2012