Georgia and Alabama will meet Monday in Atlanta for a shot at immortality as the 2018 College Football Playoff National Champion. The Dawgs and the Tide got through their semifinal games in very different ways, but will see each other in a matchup that will have the southeast buzzing from start to finish.
The Bulldogs played a heart-stopper of a game last Monday against Oklahoma that was so close that it had to be settled in double-overtime. UGA essentially played two completely different ballgames between the first and second halves. The Dawgs started off slow on defense, giving up 31 points en route to trailing by a 17-point margin at halftime. However, Kirby Smart made a very Nick Saban-like halftime adjustment going from two high safeties in the first half to playing hard man coverage and a cover 1 scheme in the second half, leaving an extra defender in the box to rush Baker Mayfield and play the run game. Mayfield had all the time in the world in the pocket in the first half, picking apart the UGA secondary. After switching to the cover 1 scheme in the second half though, Baker was pressured constantly, the Sooner wide receivers had trouble creating space in tough man coverage, and the vaunted Oklahoma Sooner offense was held to a measly one touchdown in the second half and both overtimes combines. On offense, Georgia was clicking on all cylinders throughout the game and was able to execute their game plan exactly how they wanted to. They pounded Sony Michel and Nick Chubb in the running game to the tune of a combined 25 carries for 326 yards between the two. Jake “No Mistake” Fromm had another wildly efficient day in the passing game going 20-29 for 210 yards with 2 TD’s and no picks. This explosive offense in combination with a revitalized second half defense led the Dawgs to a 54-48 double-OT win.
The Tide, on the other hand, had a much less heart pounding semi-final game. Nick Saban’s squad took on Clemson in the playoffs for the third straight year and absolutely dominated from start to finish to win 24-6 in convincing fashion. Bama’s defense was the story of this game, plain and simple. Clemson’s high scoring offense was disjointed all game long. They were limited to 1.9 yards a rush, which put Clemson QB Kelly Bryant in 3rd & long situations all night. Bryant did not respond well as the Crimson Tide defense sacked him 5 times and held him to 124 yards and two interceptions, one of which was taken back for a touchdown. Alabama’s offense was good, but not great in this game, and they didn’t have to be. Their average starting field position was on Clemson’s 48 and their defense got them consistent stops all night. Alabama QB Jalen Hurts was efficient, but didn’t make explosive plays, going 16-24 for 120 yards and 2 TD’s, while the Crimson Tide running game produced 144 yards against the best defensive line in college football in a grind-it-out kind of game that perfectly fit Alabama’s of play.