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College Football Playoff: Early thoughts on Alabama-Georgia

Nick Saban is 11-0 against his former assistants. Is it about to become 12-0?

The College Football Playoff national title game is set: It's Georgia-Alabama, next Monday in Atlanta.

A few quick thoughts:

  • Nick Saban is dominant against his former assistants, as Florida and Florida State fans know. Saban is 11-0 in coaching matchups against his ex-assistants. That includes September’s 24-7 win over Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles and SEC championship victories over Jim McElwain in 2015-16. Georgia coach Kirby Smart worked under Saban at LSU, the Dolphins and ‘Bama.
  • Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm didn’t look fazed by the stage at the Rose Bowl; he finished 20-of-29 for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He has a chance to become the second true freshman to quarterback his team to a national title, after Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway. But then again, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts had a chance to accomplish that last year….
  • Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium is awesome, but both teams know what they’re getting into; they’ve both played (and won) there this season. ‘Bama had the aforementioned victory over FSU, and Georgia earned its SEC title there over Auburn. It’s obviously an all-SEC title game.
  • Monday’s big winner: The SEC. The league was not great. Two of the better programs, Tennessee and UF, got rid of their coaches. So did Arkansas and Texas A&M. The conference was 2-5 in non-playoff bowl games. But it will have two teams playing for the title – something that hasn’t happened since January 2012, when ‘Bama beat LSU 21-0.
  • Monday’s big loser: Auburn. The Tigers started the day by losing to a very good UCF team in the Peach Bowl. Then they watched rivals Georgia and ‘Bama win playoff games, and they’ll have to watch one hoist the national championship trophy next week. Ouch.
  • ‘Bama has no locals on its roster, but Georgia has two: receiver Matt Landers (St. Petersburg High) and starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn (Lakewood High).
  • On an entertainment scale of Sugar Bowl to Rose Bowl, expect this one to fall on the Sugary side. It could be ugly, even if it’s close.  ‘Bama and UGA had the nation’s No. 1 and No. 3 scoring defenses and ranked first and sixth in yards per play allowed. The big rushing plays Georgia backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb came up with? They might not be there against the Crimson Tide. No team in the country allowed fewer rushes of at least 10 yards than ‘Bama (30).