After a meeting of two SEC heavyweights, what has Alabama v Georgia told us about college football in 2020?
Well, it’s told us the more things change, the more they stay the same!
A week of turmoil saw master coach Nick Saban sidelined with COVID (a false positive it turns out). On the back of a terrible defensive showing against Ole Miss, this was supposed to be the week that the balance of power shifted in the SEC.
Only Alabama didn’t get the memo.
After three successive negative tests, coach Saban was cleared to don the headset and patrol the sideline, dealing a psychological blow to the Bulldogs of Georgia.
Going into this game, Saban was 21-0 against his former assistants.
In this match up of a high-octane offense vs a smothering defence, surely the tables would be turned and the all-conquering defence would strangle the Alabama offence.
This would’ve given Kirby Smart his first win against his old boss while atoning for defeats in 2017 and 2018.
But it wasn’t to be.
After Saturday night’s 41-24 win, Nick Saban is now an incredible 22-0 against his former assistants.
Georgia had their chances in this match, but they lacked the composure and mentality needed to get over the hump.
Previous defeats are still fresh in the memory, and may have played their part.
On Saturday, Georgia led 24-20 at halftime, and lost.
In the 2017 Championship game, they led 13-0 at half time and had one hand on the bowl, but lost.
In the 2018 SEC Championship game, they led 21-14 at half time, but lost.
So, what does this result tell us?
Well it makes one thing very clear, Alabama are now the undisputed second best team in college football, behind the juggernaut that is Clemson.
After another Saban Masterclass, the coach was effusive in his praise for how his team handled a challenging week.
‘It felt great, it was a great win for our team, it was a great win for our fans. Georgia has a great team, this was the kind of game you come to Alabama to play.
‘Our players did a great job, they handled the disruption of the week very, very well. Showed a lot of maturity, played a lot better in the second half. Kind of got control of the game, I’m really proud of the players, the way they competed.
‘We knew it was going to be a street fight, we knew we were going to have to go 15 rounds. I’m really proud of the way they did that.’
And what of Georgia’s defense?
There is no shame in losing to a team that posts one of the most potent offences in the game today.
- Mac Jones is firmly in the Heisman discussion after another week where he put up numbers eerily similar to his predecessor Tua Tagovailoa (Jones was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week after the Georgia game).
- Najee Harris is almost unstoppable. After five (yes, five!) touchdowns against Ole Miss, he followed up with 152 yards and one touchdown against a Georgia defence that was hell-bent on stopping him.
- With a receiving core of Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie III it gives Jones so many options to move the chains or take long shots and make explosive plays and keep the defence on the field, grinding them down.
However, you come at the King, you best not miss.
‘We couldn’t stop them. We got outcoached,’ said Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
After Saturday’s loss, Georgia have slipped to #4 in the AP Top 25 poll, with Notre Dame taking the #3 spot.
Naturally, Clemson stay in the #1 spot with an astonishing 54 votes, while Alabama are in the #2 spot with eight votes.
With Trevor Lawrence in devastating form it would take a miracle, a disaster, or both for Clemson to be dislodged from the top spot. And for Alabama, with no ranked teams remaining on their schedule, they should lock up that number two spot for the College Football Playoff.
However, the final two spots are well and truly up in the air, and as we have seen in 2020, anything is possible…