Alabama vs. Georgia (8, 50)
A berth in the BCS Championship Game against Notre Dame is at stake when No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia clash in Saturday’s SEC title game in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide are making their eighth appearance (3-4) in the game, most of any SEC West team, while the Bulldogs are making their fifth (2-2). Alabama leads the nation in points allowed (9.3) and total defense (233.7). The Bulldogs rank 17th in points allowed (17.7) but have been especially stingy the last five games, allowing an average of 8.6 points. Two Georgia defensive backs proclaimed this week that they have the nation’s top defense, providing Alabama some bulletin-board material.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, CBS.
LINE: Alabama -8, O/U 50. The Crimson Tide opened as 8.5-point favorites at most books.
ABOUT ALABAMA (11-1, 7-1 SEC): Seeking their third national title in four years, the Tide are dominant on defense and balanced on offense. Quarterback AJ McCarron (25 touchdown passes, two interceptions) spreads the ball around to a talented group of targets led by freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper (45 catches, 767 yards, eight touchdowns), but the wideout corps took a hit last week when Kenny Bell broke his leg against Auburn. That might prompt coach Nick Saban to pull the redshirt off freshman Chris Black. Running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon have combined for 1,848 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. They run behind the nation’s top offensive line, which is anchored by center Barrett Jones. The senior is a finalist for the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy.
ABOUT GEORGIA (11-1, 7-1): This is arguably Georgia’s best team in coach Mark Richt’s 12-year tenure. Quarterback Aaron Murray leads the nation in passing efficiency (177.2) and has 89 career touchdown passes, tied for second in SEC history. The three-year starter opted not to talk to the media this week, possibly an indicator he’s tired of explaining his struggles against elite defenses. For Murray to exploit Alabama’s beatable secondary like LSU’s Zach Mettenberger did, freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall must keep the Tide honest. They’ve combined for 1,858 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (24 career sacks), linebacker Alec Ogletree (team-high 87 tackles in only eight games) and safety Bacarri Rambo (16 career interceptions) lead a defense loaded with playmakers.
* Crimson Tide are 6-0 ATS in their last six neutral site games.
* Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Under is 6-0 in Bulldogs’ last six games overall.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
1. Alabama leads the series 36-25-4 and won the most recent meeting 41-30 in Athens in 2008.
2. Gurley’s 14 rushing touchdowns are one shy of Georgia’s freshman record, set by Herschel Walker in 1980.
3. Alabama is plus-14 in turnover margin, Georgia plus-9.