Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Like it or not, two SEC teams make CFP championship game

Like it or not, two SEC teams make CFP championship game

This is eerily reminiscent of Alabama's run to the 2011 championship, another season when the Tide didn't even win its own division or play for the SEC title. It will conclude with the championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on January 8 between Georgia and Alabama. They accounted for a pair of touchdowns just 13 seconds apart in the third quarter to turn an offensive slog into a 24-6 rout of defending national champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game Monday night.

Nick Saban's players did not have to go through an extra game, and after losing to Auburn November 25, the Crimson Tide was off until the Sugar Bowl against Clemson. That stingy group will be tested against a Georgia offense that racked up 527 yards in a 54-48, double-overtime win over No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual.

Georgia took two overtimes to dispose of Oklahoma and its ballyhooed Heisman Trophy quarterback Baker Mayfield in the Rose Bowl. It did, however, allow OU a whopping 531 total yards.

The Georgia-Alabama card will be football's version of the Hatfields and McCoys. 8 Georgia 38-10. The last time these teams played in Atlanta was the 2012 SEC title game, in which Georgia lost 32-28 after falling short on its final drive.

Coaches who faced or scouted the teams say Oklahoma hasn't encountered a challenge quite like Georgia, and vice versa. You have the reigning Heisman Trophy victor in Baker Mayfield, strutting his stuff, balling, by the way. He has thrown for 2,383 yards with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions.

That Rose Bowl on Monday, with Smart's team as its victor, had so many details tucked in there that you might discuss them for decades. "They have good players, but people do not have numbers on them in the run game, and they don't have leverages on them".

Something in between would be ideal as the first ticket to the CFP national title game is punched in Pasadena.

While players were given time to rest and adjust to being back in the Eastern time zone, the coaching staff worked on game planning before players begin Alabama work Wednesday.

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It's the professor against his prized pupil, and their history together will headline the chatter surrounding this game.

On Feb. 10, 2006, Saban hired 30-year-old Smart to coach safeties with the Miami Dolphins, just as Smart, then at Georgia, was about to go interview with the New York Jets for their job coaching linebackers and nickelbacks.

"I've got gold hands", quipped Payne, who was picked as the game's defensive MVP. This time, Alabama's opponent represents a new rising threat to Nick Saban's dynasty in Tuscaloosa, a Georgia team made in the Crimson Tide's image by Saban's former defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart.

The College Football Playoff put a bow on 39 of the 40 bowls of the 2017-18 season.

It will be interesting to see how Alabama's defense handles Georgia's two outstanding running backs, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

Chubb and Michel may be the best pair of running backs in the country, as Chubb rushed for 1,320 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Michel rushed for 1,129 yards and 16 touchdowns.

With such opportunistic defenses on both teams, neither offense can afford to give the ball away. Clemson finished with 33 carries for 64 yards. The Alabama defense has forced at least one turnover in 41 of its past 43 games, dating to the start of the 2015 season.

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