No. 4 Alabama didn't play for the SEC title this year because it didn't win the SEC West, but the Tide will have a chance to finish the season as the best team in the conference andthe country when they face SEC champion and No. 3 seed Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Georgia, which will be playing roughly 70 miles from its campus in Athens, will be the first team to play a national championship game in its home state since LSU played in New Orleans in 2012, when it lost to Alabama. That was also the last time two teams from the same conference played for the national title.
While this game will feature an abundance of talent at every position, the playmakers on both defenses are particularly elite. Georgia linebacker Roquan Smithwon the Dick Butkus Award this season as the nation's best linebacker, and Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrickwon the Chuck Bednarik (defensive player of the year) and Jim Thorpe (best defensive back) awards. Alabama entered the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Clemson allowing an FBS-low 11.5 points per game and held the Tigers to just two field goals. 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's defense, meanwhile, entered the Rose Bowl ranked third nationally in scoring defense (13.2 points per game), holding opposing offenses to 158.3 passing yards per game, second in FBS. It did, however, allow OU a whopping 531 total yards.
Alabama and Georgia didn't play each other during the regular season, and they haven't met since 2015, when then-No. 13 Alabama beat then-No. 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. It has been a while, but these teams -- and their head coaches -- are quite familiar with each other.