#3 Alabama scored 24 points in the second quarter on their way to a dominant victory over #1 Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
O-Line play was a huge factor for Georgia as the Bulldogs gave up three sacks and six tackles for loss. Georgia QB Stetson Bennet threw for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns but also threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown late in the third quarter. That was likely the play that put the game out of reach for Georgia, a team that had not beating a team with less than three losses coming into the game.
Crimson Tide QB Bryson Young continued his Heisman campaign completing 26 of 44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns. Despite struggling against Auburn, his performance in the SEC Championship combined with his record setting performance against Arkansas (31-40, 559 yards, 5 TD's) could be enough to push him over the edge. The question is whether he can fend off Michigan's DE Aiden Hutchinson, who would be only the second defensive player in history to win the award.
Alabama's surprisingly dominant victory sent them flying up the CFP rankings, leapfrogging Big Ten Champion Michigan for the #1 seed in the CFP. The Crimson Tide extend their win streak versus Georgia to seven in a row, three of those victories being in the SEC Championship (2012, 2018, 2021).
The implications for the game were debated as many questioned whether this would give Alabama enough of a resume to enter the CFP as the top seed. While they have impressive victories over then #12 Ole Miss (42-21) and #1 Georgia (41-21), defense has been an issue for the Tide. In their record setting performance against #21 Arkansas, the Tide allowed 35 points and gave up a 31-14 lead early in the third quarter against the Razorbacks who already had three losses, one of which being a 37-0 drubbing against Georgia.
The SEC Championship did prove to be enough as the Tide were given the nod for the top spot and will face #4 Cincinatti in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
#1 Goergia and #3 Alabama meet in the SEC Championship game with both teams having a shot at the College Football Playoff with a win. #1 Georgia comes into the game having not yet beaten an opponent with less than three losses. A win for them will largely depend on the O-Line play. Coming into the game, Georgia has only allowed eight sacks on the season. Alabama, however, will be looking to get to pressure Georgia QB Stetson Bennet with one of the best Linebackers in the country in Will Anderson Jr. who's tied for the most sacks with 14.5.
Alabama has a knack for beating Georgia in big games. The Crimson Tide have won six straight against the Bulldogs including a pair of wins in the 2012 and 2018 SEC Championship games, the 2017 National Championship and two regular season matchups in 2015 (38-10 Alabama) and 2020 (41-24 Alabama).
Despite the success the Tide have had against the Bulldogs, Georgia comes into the game ranked #1 in the country with a 12-0 record and impressive victories against then #8 Arkansas, then #18 Auburn and then #11 Kentucky. However, only #23 Kentucky remains ranked in the CFP top 25.
Alabama has struggled in the last couple of weeks. The Tide putting up a solid 42 points against a talented Arkansas team who was ranked #21 at the time. However, Alabama couldn't do much to stop Arkansas's offense as they allowed 14 fourth quarter points to keep the Razorbacks in the game until a late 40-yard Touchdown pass from QB Bryce Young to Jameson Williams put the game out of reach.
Alabama then followed that up with a dismal performance against unranked Auburn in which the Tide did not score a single point until the 8:44 mark in the 4th quarter. Fortunately for Alabama, the defense held strong and kept the Tigers from putting the game out of reach. A 28-yard touchdown to Slade Bolden tied the game at 10 with just 24 seconds left in the 4th quarter. The Tide would go on to win in overtime.
The 2021 SEC Championship will help answer some big questions for both squads. Particularly, can Alabama's offense compete with a competent defense given the inconsistencies in recent weeks. Further, is Georgia truly the team their 12-0 record suggests they are despite a weaker schedule.