Nick Saban has never lost to a former assistant the 11 times he has faced them. Saban started the season against his former offensive coordinator and now Florida State’s head coach Jimbo Fisher, and he will finish the season facing his former defensive coordinator, head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, Kirby Smart, in the College Football National Championship, making this is the second all SEC national championship since 2011.
For Georgia, winning the championship title against Alabama is personal.
The last time Georgia and Alabama faced off in this high profile of a game, it was the SEC championship in 2012. The Bulldogs were down four with one drive left after sneaking inside the 10-yard-line. The Bulldogs quarterback at the time, Aaron Murray, had a deflected pass that was intercepted as time ran out, making way for Alabama to continue on to the National Championship against Notre Dame and win. The two schools went in very different directions after that game, but Georgia has rebuilt and is led by true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm.
The poise he showed in this year’s Rose Bowl against Oklahoma would be hard to replicate even by a four-year starting senior. He has already passed the hardest test competing with the high octane offense of the Oklahoma starting quarterback and Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. Georgia has a better passing offense than Alabama but both teams are explosive on the ground — the difference in this game will come down to defense. Georgia showed they can readjust enough to stay in the game against Oklahoma but they can not give up even half the points they did if they want to top Alabama.
For Nick Saban, this might be his best defense he’s had in years. They made the productivity of Clemson’s offense look similar to Michael Scott’s in The Office, rendering the number one team in the nation ineffective, which more than made up for Alabama’s weak offensive performance in their only loss in the Iron Bowl against Auburn.
Oddly enough, both of these team’s only loss has come against Auburn due to inconsistencies on offense. Saban might know Smart’s method of coaching but the Georgia head coach had a hand in recruiting many of the Alabama players that will go against him in the National Championship. It is hard to bet against Alabama but if you were going to do it, this Georgia team might be your chance to beat the dealer.
Watch Alabama vs. Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship tonight at 8pm ET on ESPN.