Friday, September 26, 2008

Georgia vs Alabama: Blackout and Smash Mouth SEC Football Included

Alabama (4-0) @ Georgia (4-0)
Line: UGA -7

ESPN Gameday travels to Athens for this top 10 SEC match up. The Alabama Crimson Tide have cruised since opening the season with a big win over Clemson. Georgia started off the season as number one in the nation and is coming off a big road win dominating Arizona State.

Alabama Offense vs Georgia Defense
The Crimson Tide likes to run the ball right at you with their two talented running backs, Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram. They do it behind one of the best offensive lines in the SEC with two potential All-Americans in C Antoine Caldwell and T Andre Smith. QB John Parker Wilson has had an up and down career in Tuscaloosa, but is now the Tide's all time leading passer. Talented freshman Julio Jones is turning into one of Wilson’s favorites targets. But don’t be mistaken, because Alabama wants to run the ball first and foremost.

Alabama’s strength of inside running is the same as Georgia’s defensive strength which is up the middle with the tackles and linebackers. LB Rennie Curran is tackling machine and will meet Mr. Coffee and Mr. Ingram up close and personal many times on Saturday. The Bulldog defense has allowed just 45 ypg on the ground this season and made Arizona State one-dimensional last week. The secondary has shown a weakness in coverage this year, but last week Georgia was able to get pressure from the line to help out the secondary.

Key: Can Georgia defenders force Alabama to run around the ends by clogging up the middle?

Georgia Offense vs Alabama Defense
The story is not a whole different when Georgia’s offense trots out on the field against Alabama’s defense. Georgia has their best offense yet under Richt gaining 450 ypg this season with a solid balance between the run and the pass. Everyone knows about Knowshon Moreno’s ability running the ball, but the nation was introduced to the combination of AJ Green and Matt Stafford last week through the air. Green, a true freshman, had UGA’s first 100 yard game by a receiver since October of 2006. Stafford also had a career high in passing yards. The o-line has been shuffled around this season, but will keep the same line up that was successful in Tempe last week.

When you talk about Alabama’s defense it starts right in the middle with big DT Terrance Cody. The JUCO transfer burst onto the scene disrupting the vaunted Clemson rushing attack a month ago. Overall, the Alabama defense is doing a fantastic job of keeping points off of the board. They are allowing 243 ypg, but are giving up less than 10 ppg; this equates to a 25 yards per point average which is very good. The Alabama defense picked off Arkansas QB Casey Dick four times last week, partly due to the pressure put on by their defensive line. However, Alabama must fly to the ball this week with all 11 defenders because Moreno is that tough to bring down. He may even slip out of the grasp of battleship Cody once or twice.

Key: Can the Alabama defensive line disrupt Georgia’s rushing and passing attack enough to allow their back seven enough time to get to the ball?

Other News and Notes
Gameday will be in Athens for the first time in 10 years. Georgia will be holding a “Blackout” wearing black jerseys like they did against Auburn last year. Some comments have been made back and forth between coaches regarding this blackout, including the head coaches. The blackout…bulletin board material…doesn’t really mean anything. Everyone has a plan until they get hit so if Georgia or Alabama is relying on these for motivation then they are looking in the wrong places.

I think this one has the makings of being a classic, smash-mouth game in the SEC. Alabama’s rushing attack will be tough to stop, but so will Georgia’s. The difference in this game lies at QB where Georgia has the advantage with Matt Stafford. I think this game could either be an upset win for Alabama if they can run the ball really well or a Georgia cover. I will go somewhere in between.

Georgia 24 Alabama 20
Alabama Covers

Last Week: 3-3 ATS, 4-2 SU
Season: 11-4-1 ATS, 11-5 SU

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