ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (11-1)
vs. GEORGIA BULLDOGS (11-1)
SEC Championship Game - Atlanta, GA
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Alabama -7, Total: 50
No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia meet for the first time since 2008 on Saturday night with an SEC title and BCS Championship berth on the line.
Alabama is playing in its eighth SEC Championship Game, while Georgia was thumped 42-10 by LSU in last year's conference title game. This matchup features the two most efficient quarterbacks in the nation with UGa's Aaron Murray (177.15 rating, 30 TD, 7 INT) and Alabama's AJ McCarron (176.26 rating, 25 TD, 2 INT). The Bulldogs have allowed 8.6 PPG in the past five games, but the Tide have given up an FBS-low 9.3 PPG for the season.
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McCarron has been outstanding this year, especially away from home where he's completed 69-of-107 passes (65%) for 1,030 yards (206 YPG), 8 TD and 0 INT in five non-home games. But he won't have his best deep threat as WR Kenny Bell (team-best 25.4 yards per catch) suffered a broken leg in last week's 49-0 drubbing of Auburn. He still has his top receiver though, Amari Cooper, who has 767 receiving yards and 8 TD this season, including 295 yards and 3 TD in the past three contests. After failing to gain 180 rushing yards in three straight games, Alabama has rushed for 567 yards on 6.5 YPC in the past two contests. Both Eddie Lacy (1,001 rush yds, 6.1 YPC, 14 TD) and T.J. Yeldon (847 rush yds, 10 TD) have proven themselves more than capable of running through opposing defenses. Lacy rushed for 131 yards and 2 TD last week, while Yeldon has scored a touchdown in seven straight games, totaling 9 TD (8 rushing, 1 receiving). Although much is made of the Tide's No. 2 ranked rushing defense (77 YPG), they also rank third in the nation in defending the pass (157 YPG). Alabama has forced 27 turnovers this season (16 INT and 11 fumbles), giving it a +14 turnover margin.
Since tossing three interceptions against Florida, Murray has been remarkably accurate with his throws, completing 71-of-97 passes (73%) for 1,137 yards (284 YPG), 13 TD and 0 INT over the past four games. He's also looking to redeem himself from a subpar performance in last year's SEC Championship when he completed just 16-of-40 passes for 163 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT. Murray is helped by a quality ground game led by the two-headed freshman monster of Todd Gurley (95 rushing YPG) and Keith Marshall (60 YPG). Gurley has 516 rushing yards and 5 TD in his past five games while Marshall has 6.7 YPC this season with 8 TD despite just 107 carries. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs have held their past seven opponents under 200 passing yards, and forced 2+ turnovers in each of the past five contests (15 total). Although Georgia has allowed 608 rushing yards in the past two games to run-heavy offenses of Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech, it has held the past three SEC opponents to a mere 61 rushing YPG on a paltry 1.9 YPC.