The college football season comes to an end Monday night with the playing of the College Football Playoff national championship game between Alabama and Georgia at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The rematch of the SEC Championship Game has generated a lot of interest, at least within the Lagniappe coverage area, though perhaps not as much nationally.
To highlight the game, we brought the Lagniappe prep football picks panel — Lagniappe sports columnist and radio host Randy Kennedy, freelance spirts writer Darron Patterson,, “Prep Spotlight” radio show host Pigskin Pete (a.k.a. Tim Taylor) and Lagniappe sports editor Tommy Hicks — out of semi-retirement to offer their views on the game. We asked to pick the team that will win the game as well as provide a score from the game and the reason for their selection. They went out on their respective limbs and did just that.
We also asked some college football writers — Tony Barnhart, Dennis Dodd and Christopher Walsh — to offer up their predictions, as well as add some insight into a couple of other areas of the game. Those are included here as well. It’s just a little something to add to all the other chatter about the game prior to kickoff.
Randy Kennedy, Lagniappe sports columnist, radio show host: Alabama 24, Georgia 23: If Kirby Smart and Georgia can’t dethrone Alabama, then when? The Bulldogs are more experienced, healthier and motivated to finally beat the Tide. This is far from Nick Saban’s best Alabama team. But it should still be good enough to extend the greatest dynasty in college football history.
Darron Patterson, freelance sports writer: Georgia 24, Alabama 14: It’s not too crazy to say this might be the most important game in recent University of Georgia football history. Alabama has quite simply owned the Bulldogs (7-0 since 2008), including an ego-deflating slice-and-dice job in the SEC title game last month. There are no words to describe the immense pressure this Georgia team is under to win in Indy. For the sake of the Peach State’s long-term mental health, the Dawgs need this one.
Pigskin Pete, “Prep Spotlight” radio host: Georgia 34, Alabama 24: Georgia was solidly in the playoffs when these two teams met in the SEC title game in early December. Alabama was playing with everything on the line and did what it had to do for an SEC title and a College Football Playoff berth. This time, I think we will see why Georgia was ranked No. 1 for the majority of the season.
Tommy Hicks, Lagniappe sports editor: Alabama 31, Georgia 28. Oddsmakers have made Georgia the favorite, and made Nick Saban smile in the process. There’s perhaps nothing that makes Saban happier than the “yummy rat poison” of his team as an underdog and a few extra days of preparation. It would seem Georgia is under more pressure to win the game and the title than Alabama is to beat Georgia a second time this season and repeat as national champion.
Wally Hall, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Georgia 42, Alabama 31.
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: Georgia 27, Alabama 25: A grinder right down to the final minutes. Georgia finally gets over that cement ceiling it keeps banging its head against. The Dawgs rid themselves of the doubt created by the SEC title game. Athens melts to the ground. Stetson Bennett IV runs for president.
Tony Barnhart, Mr. College Football, SEC Network: Georgia 24, Alabama 21. Georgia kicks a field goal on the last play of the game.
Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral.com: Flip a coin. I hate to say it, but I don’t have a good feel for this one. In the SEC Championship Game Alabama attacked with speed and in the Cincinnati game, power. I think it may be the rematch part of it that is throwing me. Alabama knows it can beat Georgia and Georgia knows it can play better. So far my instincts are telling me this one will be more touch and go and go down to the wire.
Wally Hall, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Alabama LB Will Anderson vs. Georgia’s offensive line. If the Bulldogs didn’t learn how to handle him in their first meeting they should enter the transfer portal to Samford.
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: Georgia’s ability to slow down Alabama QB Bryce Young. Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is having a fantastic season scheme-wise. In consecutive game he has torched Georgia with tempo and three-step drops, then followed by pummeling Cincinnati with RB Brian Robinson Jr.
Tony Barnhart, Mr. College Football, SEC Network: In the SEC Championship Game Georgia could not stop Alabama’s explosive plays in the passing game. In this game, Georgia will be able to limit those explosive plays.
Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral.com: The Alabama offensive line vs. the Georgia pass rush. If I’m Kirby Smart I’m going all in, attacking the right side of the Crimson Tide’s line and blitzing like crazy. We’ve all seen what happens when Bryce Young has enough time to throw, so my thinking would be if I’m going down, I’m going down throwing everything I can think of at the quarterback. The counter to that, of course, is Bill O’Brien’s dialing up a variety of screens and plays that can take advantage and lead to big gains. That’s where the game will likely be decided.
Predicted MVP of the game
Wally Hall, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Georgia TE Brock Bowers with seven catches and two touchdowns.
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: Georgia LB Nakobe Dean is going to have a monster game because he has had a monster season. He and Alabama LB Will Anderson Jr. will swap huge defensive plays, outshining the quarterbacks.
Tony Barnhart, Mr. College Football, SEC Network: In one of the great Cinderella stories ever, former walk-on Stetson Bennett IV, who many fans did not want as their starter, directs Georgia on the winning drive.
Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral.com: If Alabama wins, it’s Bryce Young, no doubt. If Georgia wins, it’s somebody like George Pickens or Brock Bowers, who are really tough matchups.
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