There is no shortage of information available in attempting to predict how a football game is going to turn out, but history has shown us that much of that information doesn’t really tell us much.
Alabama has its back to the wall since the Crimson Tide has already suffered one Southeastern Conference loss. Bama is 3-1 overall, 0-1 in SEC games. The Bulldogs are 4-0 and 2-0 in the conference with wins over Vanderbilt and South Carolina. Kickoff in Athens Saturday is at 3:30 EDT (2:30 central time) with CBS televising the game.
Perhaps the least valuable clue in trying to determine the outcome of a football game is looking at comparative scores if the two teams have had a common opponent (or opponents). Although the season is young, both Bama and the Bulldogs played a Louisiana-Monroe team that is not very good.
Georgia opened the season against Monroe with a 51-14 win. Bama faced Monroe last week and took a 34-0 decision.
Following last Saturday’s game, some Louisiana-Monroe players were asked to compare Georgia and Alabama.
Safety Tre’ Hunter on the offenses said, “Alabama is a little bit more versatile, as in the pass game is outside of the box. Georgia is light inside of the box. Alabama can spread you out. Playing in space is always hard. For skilled guys and linemen, playing in space is always hard. There is a bit more to think about than gearing up for box plays.”
Ajalen Holley, wide receiver for Monroe, talked about the offenses. He said, “We played a really good team tonight. We couldn’t get first downs and stay on the field.
“Alabama’s defense is a lot bigger. Georgia’s defense is a lot faster. That’s as good as I can give you right there. They’re both sound defenses. They’re really good defenses. When it comes to running the ball, I feel like we could be on the edge a little better against Alabama. When it comes to Georgia, we couldn’t, because they’re a faster outside defense. When it comes to getting downhill, I feel like Alabama is better at filling the gap than Georgia is, because they’re bigger. They’re defensive line can fill gaps better than Georgia.”
Georgia has a slight advantage in most offensive and defensive statistics, though many would say that is to be expected since the Bulldogs have played a lighter schedule than Bama. Georgia is averaging 45.5 points per game, Alabama 35.8. The Bulldogs are allowing 13.5 points per game, the Tide 17.5.
In the three most important statistical categories, Georgia has the advantage in turnover margin, the Bulldogs plus 2 and Alabama minus 1.
Alabama is a little better in third down conversions, 21-57 for 36.8 per cent, Georgia 22-31 for 35.5 per cent. On third down defense, Alabama has allowed only 19-67 for 28.4 per cent, Georgia has allowed 20-65 for 30.8 per cent.
In the Red Zone (inside the 20-yard line), Alabama has scored 17-19 (15 touchdowns and 2-3 field goals) for 89.5 per cent, the Bulldogs 16-19 (13 TDs, 3-4 FGs) for 84.2 per cent. On defense, Alabama has allowed 9-11 (5 TDs, 4-5 field goals), Georgia has allowed 5-8 with all 5 touchdowns.
Georgia has been slightly more effective passing and rushing. The Bulldogs have been much better in pass defense, but Alabama leads the league in rushing defense. The starting tailbacks for both teams, Nick Chubb for Georgia and Derrick Henry for Alabama, have both been very good.
As for history, Alabama has an all-time lead in the series (as Bama does against every SEC opponent), the Tide leading 37-25-4. In the most recent game, Alabama took a tough 32-28 win over Georgia in the 2012 SEC Championship Game, and the Tide went from there to a romp over Notre Dame for the national championship. In the most recent game in Athens in 2008, Alabama spoiled the Bulldogs’ blackout with a 42-30 win that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate. Bama led 31-0 at halftime and Georgia scored 13 points in the last three minutes to make the score respectable
We also look at coaching, because college football is a coaches’ game. Nick Saban has been in many, many big games and has an excellent record in those games.
A key element Saturday could be the weather. Heavy rains are expected. That’s not what a home team wants, because bad weather dampens more than the field and the players – it dampens the enthusiasm of the home crowd.
Armed with all that information, we still have to wait until the game is played to know the outcome.