Bowl Games 2017: Final

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Alabama vs. Georgia (College Football Playoff National Championship Game @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): I hate this game. I will watch it, because I am a college football fan and it is the last game for seven months. It is also the most import game of the year, because a champion will be crowned. But regardless, I hate this game. Let me count the ways:
1) I grew up in Alabama, rooting for Auburn because my third grade teacher, on the last day of school before the Iron Bowl one year, was rooting for Auburn. That’s pretty much it. I don’t care for Auburn so much these days, but I cannot root for Alabama under any circumstance.
2) In 2003, I matriculated at Georgia Tech. Our biggest rival is Georgia. This rivalry is called “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” for a reason. Enough said.
3) It’s not like Alabama needs more titles, they already claim somewhere between a dozen and like 500 (I always forget).
4) Oh, yeah, and Auburn’s second biggest rival? Georgia.
5) Did you watch that Sugar Bowl, where Alabama basically took a freshman quarterback and sucked all the life out the Clemson offense? That 24-6 score is ridiculous. Bama could have won the game by not even fielding an offense, because their defense scored more points than Clemson did. And indeed, the Clemson defense had a pretty good game, but it didn’t matter because their offense was dead on arrival.
6) Okay, yes, the Rose Bowl was exciting even if the result went the wrong way. (If only Oklahoma fielded an even average defense…) But the fact of the matter is that Fromm hasn’t seen anything like this Alabama defense, which used the bowl break to get healthy. Now they’re back.
7) Of course, it could be argued the Bama defense hasn’t seen an offense like this all year, but if there’s any kind of offense an Alabama defense can stop it’s a run-first offense like Georgia’s.
8) Georgia’s defense is pretty good. Yes, they just gave up 531 yards of offense, but no one is going to confuse Jalen Hurts for Baker Mayfield.
9) Add it all up, and it looks for all the world like a tight, low-scoring game where the team that makes the least mistakes will win. And given that, you have to figure it’s going to be Alabama. I hate whoever is going to win either way, but given everything I think this game favors the Tide.
S&P+ line: Alabama by 2.3
Watchability tier: [redacted]
Previous meetings: Interestingly, despite having been in the same conference since 1921 (when both joined the original Southern Conference; both also left for the new SEC in 1933), they’ve only played 67 times. Generally speaking, schools used to have considerable leeway over even conference scheduling (famously, until recently Georgia Tech had only played the two Mississippi* schools five times combined despite having been in the SEC together for decades), but even still 67 times in nearly a century is not a lot. They did play every year from 1944 through 1965, but since then they’ve only met 16 times. I can explain the gap after 1992, since that’s when the SEC began divisional play and placed the two in opposite divisions, but between 1965 and 1992 I don’t really know why they didn’t play more often,  even given scheduling considerations in the then 10-team league. At any rate, Alabama won the last regular season meeting in 2015, 38-10. The series began in 1895 with a 30-6 Georgia win, and Alabama is sitting on a three game winning streak. Alabama also has a 38-25-4 all-time series lead.
*: Somewhat hilariously, this will change in the near future, but despite the above Alabama has played Georgia more times than Ole Miss. (And also founding SEC members Kentucky and Florida.)
Last bowl game: See the previous post.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

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