College football’s top division will crown its champion Monday night. But in all likelihood, most of the country won’t be all that interested.
Unless you’re a follower of either the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Georgia Bulldogs – or perhaps just a diehard fan of college football no matter who is playing – this SEC championship game rematch probably doesn’t appeal to you. The contest turned out to be not terribly compelling the first time around, after all, and most of the games under the current playoff format have lacked the kind of drama that makes major events truly memorable.
So if you speak “Roll Tide” or “Go Dawgs,” this list isn’t for you. You’ll be watching for sure. But if you need to be convinced that this time, the sport’s grand finale is worth your time, here are a few reasons to tune in.
The other rematch
As we mentioned, these teams played just over a month ago for the SEC championship, and Alabama won in convincing fashion, 41-24. But remember what happened the last time these schools squared off in the FCS championship four years ago. That one was nothing short of an instant classic, with Alabama rallying for a 26-23 overtime win on a walk-off TD pass.
We can’t promise a similar finish, but we do know that both teams have a whole lot of talent. Both coaching staffs have had several weeks to pore over the footage from this season’s previous encounter, so there will certainly be some adjustments on each side. In theory, this one should be a lot more competitive.
As one might expect, the game featuring the sport’s top two teams also features a number of players who earned some individual accolades for their work on the field over the course of the season.
The headliner, of course, is Crimson Tide QB Bryce Young, the Heisman recipient as well as the winner of the Davey O’Brien and Maxwell awards. The other side of the ball for Alabama features edge rusher Will Anderson, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner who also finished fifth in Heisman balloting.
The Georgia defense took home its share of hardware as well. Nose tackle Jordan Davis received both the Outland Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award, and the unit also features Butkus Award winning linebacker Nakobe Dean.
If you like the NFL, you’ll likely get a look at a number of guys you’ll see on Sundays in the coming years. Last season’s finalists, Alabama and Ohio State, each had 10 players selected in the 2021 draft, while Georgia had nine players chosen.
Everybody likes a good story, right? There will be a lot to talk about no matter who wins.
An Alabama victory would be its fourth under the current playoff format and seventh overall since Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa. But if Georgia can overthrow the defending champs, it would be the program’s first title since 1980 and the first for coach Kirby Smart. It would also be Smart’s first win against his former boss in five tries since taking over in Athens.
But can the Bulldogs make enough of those adjustments we mentioned earlier to pull it off? Can they slow the Tide passing game that torched them for 421 yards in the game in Atlanta, and can Georgia come up with enough points to keep up if the defense can’t get stops? It should be interesting – at least for a while and hopefully longer.