Georgia vs. Alabama: I expect Georgia to Win because Georgia Expects to Win
I’ve made the observation before that when voting in a college football poll there are three possible sets of qualities to explore and combine to form an educated placement:
- The résumé: What has this team done this year? Who have they defeated? Who have the lost to? How have those games come to pass? And, how do the answers to those questions relate to the answers for other teams.
- The momentum: How good do I think this team is right now? Are they moving up or down in my mind? Are they getting better or worse?
- The head-to-head guess: Would team A beat team B. Or, as I’ve put it would I prefer my team to play team A or team B?
When I make a prediction for a game base the prediction on some combination of the factors above. I incorrectly picked Georgia to beat South Carolina because I felt that Georgia’s 45-point win over Vanderbilt (who South Carolina squeaked by) carried more weight than Georgia’s struggles against Tennessee – it didn’t. Furthermore, I didn’t think South Carolina had enough offense to keep up with Georgia if Connor Shaw was under center and running around like a chicken with his head cut off – that day, he did. I picked Georgia over Florida for similar reasons: at its most simplistic I liked Georgia’s offense against Florida’s defense a lot more than I liked Florida’s offense against Georgia’s defense (which I expected to show up alert). I was impressed with Florida’s résumé, but I also thought the daunting task of LSU and South Carolina in the first half of the year might wear them down, and they certainly seemed worn down in the Vanderbilt game that split up the Tigers and the Cocks. I was right about that game.
So, you have every right to think that I’m crazy and I even claim to be, but I think Georgia can win this game for the similar reasons.
Frankly, I don’t know that Alabama’s résumé is that much more impressive on a pure wins/losses basis, which in December is all that matters. Alabama throttled a Michigan team that has lost four games this year. Alabama defeated an LSU team that struggles to score thanks to Les Miles out-Les-Milesing Les Miles. Alabama defeated Mississippi State – who was ranked at the time – but has since dropped out of the rankings and lost to Ole Miss. Those are Alabama’s best wins. The Tide has defeated one more ranked team than Georgia this year and it is Michigan. I don’t think there’s reason to believe Georgia would not also beat the Wolverines. I think the odds of Georgia beating Michigan are the same as Alabama beating Georgia Tech: 1.000.
Alabama and Georgia have both squared off against and defeated Florida Atlantic, Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Auburn. Alabama defeated Western Kentucky while Georgia beat Buffalo. Both teams took down an FCS opponent. Georgia beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Alabama also beat Arkansas. The wins aren’t to eschewed one way or the other. Which, of course brings us to losses.
People seem to remember two specific things and forget two specific things when looking at the résumés of Alabama and Georgia. People seem to remember that Georgia didn’t play the elite teams from the SEC West (Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M). But, people seem to forget that Alabama didn’t play the elite teams from SEC East (Georgia, Florida and South Carolina). And people seem to remember that Georgia lost on the road to then 6th ranked South Carolina eight weeks ago. But, people seem to forget that Alabama lost at home to then 15th ranked Texas A&M three weeks ago.
As far as wins and losses go, it’s pretty darn even.
This Alabama team has supposedly returned to invincible status since losing at home just three weeks ago against Texas A&M. That is the public’s perception. But there is no evidence to support such a claim as back-to-back 49-0 wins against Western Carolina and Auburn – both at home – account for little to no merit.
Georgia, however, has improved since their loss. That much is undeniable. Georgia followed the loss to Carolina with an off week and a sluggish game against Kentucky. They followed that with an upset of #2 Florida and four FBS games that saw opposition score a total of 29 points.
How has Alabama faired over the past four games? Well, they’re 3-1, not 4-0 for starters. And, if we’re going to praise Texas A&M we should mention that this Aggies team lost at home to Florida.
If there is a team in the nation playing better than Georgia right now (I’m sure this is where Gators Eric will chime in), I’m not sure who it is. But I’m certainly not sold on Alabama. In that regard.
I’m no eternal optimist when it comes to the Georgia Bulldogs. If you’d asked me to rank this team using the same criteria listed above I would have had them open 10th and hover for a few weeks before dropping sharply after the loss to South Carolina. But the Bulldogs are climbing steadily every week. And I can’t say the same about Alabama. I can’t ignore the loss a few weeks ago like so many other people.
I think Georgia will put more pressure on A.J. McCarron than he has felt this side of the tattoo parlor that put the curse on his chest. I think Alec Ogletree and the slew of middle-backers Grantham has farmed will control the run. I think Damian “Black” Swann will make a play when he’s called upon to do so.
I think Gurshall will continue to run effectively on first downs and give Mike Bobo playcalling options. I think Aaron Murray will play with a level of poise in the pocket that parallels his preparation.
I think Georgia can go to the National Championship if these things happen. And I expect them to happen. And for the first time in quite a while, I think the Georgia Bulldogs expect them to as well.
But I might be crazy.
Be Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:
- Weekly Recap
- SEC Coaching Carousel
- Manti Te’O would be a backup for Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree
- Data Dump: White and Nerdy Statistical Analysis on the SEC and the BCS Top 3
- Georgia’s Defense vs. Alabama’s Offense: Stopping the Tide Rush the Key to Georgia Victory
- Knocking the Heisman Candidates
- Georgia’s Offense Shouldn’t be Scared of Alabama’s Defense
- Weekend Preview: We are the Champions
- The Alabama Loss to Georgia in One Gorgeous Picture
That’s all I got/