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SEC Championship Game Preview: Alabama vs. Georgia

The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs will once again meet in Atlanta for the SEC title game. Georgia heads into Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the favorite.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Georgia at Georgia Tech Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 SEC Championship Game will take place this afternoon as the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs will meet at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET and the game will air on CBS, the final SEC on CBS football broadcast before the league becomes exclusive to the ESPN family of networks next year.

Alabama (11-1, 8-0 SEC) No. 6 FPI, No. 8 SP+

Alabama is back in the SEC title game once again and is trying to claim its ninth conference championship under Nick Saban. Sitting right on the edge of the College Football Playoff race, the Crimson Tide would need a win and some help to sneak into the field of four.

By the program’s own lofty standards, the beginning of the season was a rocky one for Alabama. A loss to Texas in Week 2 was followed by a substandard 17-3 victory over USF, a game where starting quarterback Jalen Milroe was benched. Some (myself) were predicting a down season for the Crimson Tide, but they responded by ripping off 10 straight victories and winning the SEC West title. That run was filled with a few blowouts and a few close calls, like last week’s Iron Bowl where Milroe hit Isaiah Bond for the game-winning touchdown on 4th and goal from the 31.

Milroe was able to turn himself into a fringe Heisman Trophy contender by the end of the regular season, passing for 2,526 yards, rushing for 439 yards, and compiling 33 total touchdowns. While the Tide aren’t as talented at the skill positions as they have been in year’s past, Bond and Jermaine Burton have been nice receiving options for Milroe while Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams have been effective on the ground. Meanwhile on defense, edge rushers Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell have been monsters with 16 combined sacks. And while Kool-Aid McKinstry has received attention as a potential top 10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, Terrion Arnold has stepped up opposite him with 10 passes defensed and five interceptions on the year.

Georgia (12-0, 8-0) No. 5 FPI, No. 2 SP+

Georgia just completed its third straight undefeated regular season and will try to claim its second straight SEC Championship this afternoon. The two-time defending national champions are riding a 29-game win streak into this contest and its last loss came against this very Alabama program two years ago in the 2021 SEC title game.

Even after losing so much talent from last year’s title team to the NFL, the Dawgs still carved through its schedule this year. There were a few games where they found themselves in a tight spot, only to predictably step on the gas in the second half and wear their opponents out. A November slate against Missouri, Ole Miss, and Tennessee in consecutive weeks was UGA’s toughest stretch of the season, and it easily handled business in winning those games by a combined margin of 72 points.

Junior Carson Beck took over for Stetson Bennett IV at quarterback and ended up coming into his own towards the end of the year. He threw for roughly 3,500 yards while completing 72.4% of his passes, a good chunk of them going to world-beating tight end Brock Bowers. The reigning Mackey Award winner missed some time with an ankle injury and stull ended up leading the Dawgs in receiving. While the front-seven had garnered the most attention for the team in recent years, the strength came from the secondary this season. Tykee Smith was a star with 63 tackles, four interceptions, and two sacks while Javon Bullard and Malaki Starks also stepped up.

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Georgia -5
Total: 55
Moneyline: Georgia -192, Alabama +160

Weather

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is indoors. Weather is not a factor.

Don’t forget before you bet

  • Alabama is 8-4 against the spread while Georgia is 4-7-1.
  • Georgia is 19-7 in neutral site games under Kirby Smart (since 2016). Alabama is 18-3 during that same period of time.
  • Nick Saban is 7-2 against Georgia during his time at Alabama.

Best bets for SEC Championship Game

Alabama +5

I’ll raise my hand and admit that I was one of the ones who counted Alabama out early in the season and was proven wrong time and time again. This year’s Crimson Tide team figured out their identity as the season went on and despite not being as talented as teams in year’s past, they still found ways to win time and time again. Georgia has been a juggernaut and may still win this game outright, but I’m picking Bama to at least cover in this battle of SEC heavyweights.