For the first time all season the Georgia Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 in SEC) play an opponent that can actually beat them in a game that if they win puts Georgia front and center in playoff talks and if they lose pretty much ends the Bulldogs’ chances at winning a National Championship.
Hopefully the plush schedule to begin the year has given Georgia a month of preparation leading to their big meeting with the Alabama Crimson Tide (3-1, 0-1 in SEC). If the Bulldogs want any chance at beating the SEC Champ of two of the past three seasons, they’re going to have to do these three things to perfection on Saturday:
Move the Ball through the Ground
This week the college football world finds out what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object as one of the top rushing teams in the Nation, Georgia, heads home to play perhaps the stingiest run defense in Alabama. Though Bulldog running back Nick Chubb has received the bulk of this week’s attention, as he will have a chance to break Herschel Walker’s school record of 12 consecutive 100-yard rushing games this weekend, the most rushing yards Alabama has given up to a single player this season has been 39 yards to Ole Miss RB Jordan Wilkins. They are as fast, strong, and disciplined a defense there is in college football. Make no mistake, Chubb has not faced a unit like this in his entire time at Georgia.
Win the Turnover Margin
For the first time since the Nick Saban’s first season in Alabama the team had a negative turnover margin in 2014, a trend that has continued in 2015. Through four games this season Bama has gained 7 turnovers, and lost 8, giving them a -1 turnover ratio on the season. In a 43-37 Sept. 20 win, Ole Miss forced 5 turnovers out of Alabama (three interceptions and two fumbles) yet didn’t once turn the ball over themselves as their victory should serve as a blueprint to the Bulldogs.
Without an interception yet this season Georgia must put on extra emphasis on taking care of the ball because if they start giving Bama extra possessions, it’s game over.
Get off to an Early Lead
Of the many things the Bulldogs will try to replicate from Ole Miss’s performance against Alabama two weeks ago, none may be more important than getting off to a fast start. The rebels were able to survive a late push from Bama because a 17-3 lead in the second quarter kept them in front through the first half, while a 13-0 run to start the second half made the hole just too big for Alabama to climb out of.
At no point in the game was Ole Miss ever down against Alabama, a strategy the Bulldogs should no doubt try themselves on Saturday.