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College Football Playoff Championship Prediction 2018

Jalen Hurts, Alabama
Last season, one of the most popular questions was the perceived downfall of the SEC. Once the
clearly dominant conference in college football the conference lacked much substance behind Alabama, as every other SEC team had at least four losses by the end of the 2016-2017 season. Now, a year later, the conference has two teams playing for a National Title, as fourth-ranked Alabama tries to add another title to their resume against the third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Both teams fit the SEC stereotype perfectly; they play tough, physical football between the trenches and make opponents work for every yard. Expect a hard-fought, close football game in Atlanta to decide who becomes king of the college football world.

Georgia's transformation from 8-5 team with potential in 2016 to a National Title contender in '17 has been one of the great stories of the season. Even more impressive is the fact Georgia has won 13 games with a true freshman quarterback under center who began the year as a backup. Jake Fromm took for injured sophomore Jacob Eason early on in the season and the Bulldogs haven't looked back. Fromm showed some nerves early in the team's Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma, but his play in the second half was marvelous, and he shouldn't be too overwhelmed by the moment. Squaring off against the speed and size of Alabama's defense is intimidating for anyone, but Fromm will also be helped by a superb supporting cast. In the backfield, seniors Sony Michel and Nick Chubb will look to end their impressive Georgia careers in style. The two entered campus together as young freshman and now leave as seniors, after many years of setting records and torching defenses. Chubb will be the the option for short yardage, while Michel excels at getting outside and using his speed. Fromm will also have Terry Godwin and Javon Wims available in the passing game, as while as the help of a very strong offensive line. UGA has good experience and plenty of depth throughout the offense as a whole, which will serve them well here. It is easy to be challenged by a big stage especially against a team like Alabama, but these veterans have played in big moments before and should be ready.

Even though Georgia did drop 54 points in their overtime victory over Oklahoma, this is still a team that will lean more on their defense than offense. The defense, which is of course led by former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart (now UGA's head coach), has a ton of speed and is extremely physical. The front seven is very athletic and should pose quite a threat to Alabama's rushing attack. They will be especially lethal if star linebacker Roquan Smith can have the type of game he had in the Rose Bowl. After a poor first half, Smith was an absolute stud in the second half, and a major reason why the Bulldogs were able to overcome Oklahoma. Expect Georgia to stack the box heavily and force Alabama to throw it down the field. The Bulldogs' secondary is also very experienced and consistent. If they can contain star Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, they could very well shut down the Crimson Tide in this one.

It is no longer being led by flashy offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, but Alabama's offense has still be as effective as ever under new OC Brian Daboll. Even though his passing numbers still leave something to be desired, sophomore Jalen Hurts is still a major difference-maker at QB. Hurts can absolutely kill teams with his legs, and UGA will have to prove they can tackle him in space. Alabama will clearly run heavily in this one, even if they are going up against the stout Georgia front. Damien Harris led the team in rushing on the season but he is far from the lone option. Powerful Bo Scarbrough was great in last year's Playoff, and could be used heavily in this one. Also expect to see backs Joshua Jacobs and true frosh Najee Harris. It will be interesting to see how Daboll and 'Bama use Calvin Ridley in this one. Ridley is their clear-cut No. 1 receiver, but he will be challenged heavily by Georgia in this one. Expect the Tide to still get him involved anyway possible, whether it be on screens or sweeps. Up front, Alabama is still as powerful and tough as ever. They aren't going to be able to push Georgia around like they have been able to do against inferior opponents, but they still have a chance to control the line of scrimmage. In a game where field position and every yard will matter, that will be vitally important.

Despite the fact they suffered through injuries for most of the season, Alabama's defense was just as good as ever under coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who will now take over as Tennessee head coach after this game. However, the Tide were informed of some terrible news this week: linebacker Anfernee Jennings, who injured his knee against Clemson, will be officially out for this one. Losing Jennings, an impact defender off the edge, will be tough to swallow, but the Tide have guys ready to step up. That includes award-winning defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who will battle through a kidney injury to be ready in this game. Fitzpatrick, who can fill in at either corner or safety, is a turnover machine that also excels on blitzes. His main purpose will be to cause chaos and confusion for Fromm and the Georgia offense, which he could have success doing. Fitzpatrick will lead a fabulous Alabama secondary that includes corners Anthony Averett and Levi Wallace and has plenty of versatility. Up front, Alabama's D-Line will have a challenge against UGA's offensive line, but they should still be able to provide some push. Raekwon Davis, who suffered a gun shot wound just days before the season began, has been an absolute beast all season and will hope to make Fromm uncomfortable and force some mistakes.

The last time we saw an all-SEC National Championship was 2011, when Alabama blew out undefeated LSU. I don't expect the Tide to blow out anybody here; Georgia has the talent and makeup to last with 'Bama all four quarters. The big question will be at QB and on the sidelines. Fromm has been great all season, but he will have to make some big throws to overcome the stifling Alabama defense. Can he do that? Does Kirby Smart have enough tricks up his sleeve to overcome his mentor Nick Saban, who has proven he knows how to win in this big games. I firmly expect a hard-fought, hard-hitting game where points will not come easy. This game has a feel of one that is low-scoring and somewhat "boring". I think things will be close but my pick is Alabama. The Tide looked superb in their semifinal win over Clemson, and are more experienced on this type of stage. I like the Tide to add another National Title to Nick Saban's belt.

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