Southern Invasion For the CFB National Title

Georgia. Alabama.

The nation's best two teams will meet Monday night for the national title in a rematch of last month's SEC title game, a shockingly easy win for the Crimson Tide.

Will it be more of the same this time? I don't see that happening.

Georgia's loss to Alabama brought out all the critics, notably those with a massive chip on their shoulders about the SEC. They ranted angrily about Georgia getting into the playoff. Emmanuel Acho, notably, claimed "SEC bias" was the reason the Bulldogs got into their Orange Bowl showdown with Big Ten champion Michigan.

Acho forgot to mention that, of the 13 members that made up this year's College Playoff Committee, only one, Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart, was from the SEC. The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences had more than one representative, be it an athletic director, a professor, or an alum. Three were tied to current Big Ten and Pac-12 schools Two members had ties to one school alone (Notre Dame). Had the committee had four or five SEC members, Acho might have had a point. In this case, his point lacked merit, as it was clear the committee that rewarded Georgia had little SEC influence to it.

That point was demolished completely following Georgia's complete and total domination of Michigan.

Love the SEC. Hate the SEC. For the last two decades, they've done it better than anyone else. Eighteen title contender teams in 16 years. Five different schools winning titles in the BCS/CFP era. A lot of that is due to TV network expansion and massive facility upgrades, both of which kept recruits in the talent-rich southeastern corner of the country home. The former also helped the ACC's Clemson, who snagged a couple of titles themselves. They'll be the usual cries of cheating and paying players, but that was happening pretty much all over the country, so that's a pretty weak argument.

There were also claims that "lighter academic standards" kept recruits down south as well. That argument is even weaker. Go on any recruiting site and look at the five-star athletes. Five-star talent is recruited nationally ... and so long as the player is NCAA eligible, schools all over the country will gladly find a way to get them in the doors.

So, ignore all the whining and gnashing of teeth and let's get back to the game at hand.

Alabama is in a great position Monday night. They have the better coach, the better quarterback, the best wide receiver and they'll come in with the same chip on their shoulder as they did in Atlanta, possibly more so since they whipped the Bulldogs and are still the underdog. While Saban isn't going to play the exact same blueprint that he drew up last month, he knows the keys to winning are to keep Georgia's defensive line at bay and bomb away at their secondary, though not having John Metchie will definitely hurt.

Saban knew he didn't need to pass the ball to beat Cincinnati. He knew 'Bama's lines were superior and he could grind the Bearcats into submission. The game plan was masterful.

Georgia's defensive line, though, is not Cincinnati. 'Bama won't be able to win this on the ground. Keeping Bryce Young from pressure is 'Bama's key to another national title.

Meanwhile, Georgia will need a similar strategy. The key for the Dogs will be to keep Stetson Bennett from pressure, similar to the Michigan game. When he's able to get time, he can be deadly, and stopping Will Anderson will be priority number one for Georgia.

However, if Bennett struggles again, like he did in Atlanta, Kirby Smart needs to have the trigger ready and trust in J.T. Daniels to step in. Twice, Nick Saban pulled quarterbacks at halftime against Georgia (Tua for Jalen, then Jalen for Tua). Both times, it was against Georgia. Both times, it was successful.

Kirby can't let history repeat itself. He has to be able to make the adjustments needed if UGA starts to backpedal. This has to be a perfectly called, perfectly executed game on his part. And, I'm sure he knows that. He can't succumb to that pressure.

Which leads to the final question. Can Georgia snap the mental block of Alabama?

Alabama has beaten Georgia seven consecutive times. They've shattered Georgia's hearts time and time again. Georgia has to block all of that recent history.

They can't let the ghosts of the past haunt them yet again in Indianapolis. They have to come in with an angry mindset and no short-term memory.

If they do that, this could be their night. But for now, it's really, really hard to bet against Nick Saban. This is his comfort zone.

Alabama. Georgia. Southern flair in the heart of the midwest for the national championship. It should be a classic.

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