Last Updated: 2018-01-08
The College Football Playoff national championship game is only hours away. The Georgia Bulldogs will face the Alabama Crimson Tide in an all SEC matchup. The coaches are familiar. The conference is familiar. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide also lost to the same Auburn Tigers’ team. They each use multiple running backs to dominate games. However, there’s one aspect of the game that both sides want to avoid. It’s called losing. More importantly, losing this game may change the course of their respective programs next season.
Jalen Hurts has been the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide since his freshman season. Even when he wasn’t the starter, he played starter snaps in the season-opening win over the USC Trojans last year. He never relinquished the spot and seemed to lead the Crimson Tide to a national title. His game-breaking touchdown run put the Crimson Tide up in the final minutes over the Clemson Tigers. However, the defense couldn’t hold the lead and we all saw what Deshaun Watson did on the game-winning drive.
Now, Hurts is not only in a battle for a national title. He is in a battle to keep his starting quarterback job next season. After throwing for 17 touchdowns and 1 interception in 2017, you’d think Hurts’ job would be secure. He even completed 61 percent of his pass attempts. Hurts also ran for 808 yards and 8 touchdowns. Yet, there’s no certainty that he can survive a loss. Here’s why.
Freshman Tua Tagovailoa is waiting in the wings. In limited snaps, Tagovailoa accounted for 8 touchdown passes and 1 interception. He completed 66 percent of his pass attempts and is supposed to become a bonafide star with the Crimson Tide. However, you can’t become a star if you’re stuck on the sideline. Therefore, if the Crimson Tide struggle offensively in a loss, head coach Nick Saban will have an all-out battle at the quarterback position. In fact, they should have that battle even if the Crimson Tide win.
Meanwhile, Jake Fromm wasn’t really supposed to see the field this early. Yet, he gave himself a chance by becoming an early enrollee just like Hurts a couple of years ago. As well as he performed in spring practice and summer camp, Jacob Eason was named the starter for the season opener. Then, Eason got hurt before he had a chance to hold the starting job. By the time Eason returned to the field, Fromm was the starting quarterback. As a result, Eason only attempted seven passes in 2017. As they say, the rest is history, well almost.
With Fromm at the helm, the Bulldogs played it close to the vest. Fromm attempted 259 passes. That equates to 19.5 passes per game. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs ran the ball 45 times per game in route to an SEC title. The plan was always to ride the wave of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Turns out, Fromm was the perfect quarterback to run this system. He enters the championship game with 23 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Fromm completed 63.7 percent of his pass attempts. Moreover, he played one of his best games in the comeback win over the Oklahoma Sooners last week. Still, Fromm will face the ultimate test if Georgia’s running game is nullified on Monday night.
More importantly, everybody wants to know if Fromm is good enough to win the game. To put it bluntly, a lot is on the line for Fromm. He displayed a mastery of the offense and the line of scrimmage last week. He has to show that this moment isn’t too big. Otherwise, Fromm may lose more than a title this week.
After playing the Sooners, the Bulldogs are now giving up 15.7 points per game. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide dominated the Clemson offense and are still No. 1 at 11.1 points per game. However, both teams will have different schemes come Monday night.
If the defenses do dominate, it would be interesting to see if the coaching staffs would insert one of the blue chip quarterbacks on the bench. That would certainly send a message the quarterback room is not safe entering the 2018 season.
The Crimson Tide are 3.5 point favorites. And the O/U is set at 45.5 points. The Bulldogs needed 54 points just to advance in the Rose Bowl. That should tell you that the national title game is expected to be different. The only question- which quarterback is going to make enough plays to win?Keep in mind, Hurts and Fromm will be competing in 3 out of 3 national title game chances. Therefore, they must be doing something right.
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