3 reasons why Georgia’s odds of beating Alabama keep improving
ATHENS — Georgia football is looking more and more like a legitimate national championship contender, improving its odds of beating Alabama each week.
First things first, Coach Kirby Smart has challenged his players to maintain their intensity for non-conference cupcake UMass at 4 p.m. Saturday in what amounts to the final dress rehearsal of the season with rival Georgia Tech and the Tide following.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (9-1, 7-1 SEC) have built up some noteworthy momentum with wins over Florida, Kentucky and Auburn, and Smart wants them to maintain it.
It has been an impressive reload after Georgia lost SEC Defensive Player of the Year Roquan Smith and the No. 2 and No. 3 rushers in the school’s noteworthy RB history, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Still, for much of this season, it has been hard to envision a realistic scenario where Georgia could beat No. 1 Alabama.
While it’s still more unlikely than not, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for the Bulldogs, who have taken an “unfinished business” approach to 2018.
Here are three takeaways from the Bulldogs’ pivotal three-game stretch, and reasons why Georgia has a shot at repeating as SEC champions:
To beat Alabama it’s going to take plenty of fight and a never-say-die approach, and Georgia has shown that since a humbling 36-16 loss at LSU.
Smart and the Bulldogs circled the wagons during the bye week and dug in, recognizing and remedying keys ares such as pass protection and run defense/tackling.
Georgia remains a work in progress and must absolutely solve its “low red zone” (short-yardage) offense to conquer the Tide.
But the offensive line has improved as the season has progressed, and the defensive front has grown deeper and stronger.
It’s hard to imagine a quarterback being questioned after leading his team to an SEC title and College Football Playoff overtime win against Oklahoma.
But that’s where Jake Fromm found himself throughout much of this season.
Fromm stumbled against LSU and the critics came out in force. Some suggested unproven true freshman QB Justin Fields should replace Fromm in the starting lineup.
But Fromm, a sophomore from Warner Robins (Ga.), has answered the bell. His poise and leadership has been evident in the wins over the Gators, Wildcats and Tigers, as Fromm has thrived under the immense pressure of producing in must-win situations.
Alabama is coming off back-to-back shutout wins over AP Top 25 teams for the first time in the school’s illustrious history, so it’s clear it will take a supreme quarterback play to topple the Tide.
Georgia continues to grow new limbs with young talent emerging each week.
Even better, the veteran talent is elevating its play for various reasons, from improved health, to more experience or the push from the younger players on the depth chart.
The re-emergence of tailback D’Andre Swift from offseason double groin surgery has been most impressive, the sophomore having returned to the explosive form of his freshman season.
Receiver Jeremiah Holloman is another rising star, playing a go-to role in wins over Florida and Kentucky, and applying himself as a pivotal downfield blocker on Swift’s back-breaking 77-yard TD run against Auburn.
Freshman Jordan Davis has gone from not making the travel squad in September to starting at defensive tackle.
Senior receiver Terry Godwin has gotten back into form after knee and shin injuries sidelined him much of August, and redshirt sophomore offensive guard Ben Cleveland is on the verge of his first start since suffering a broken left fibula at Missouri on Sept. 22.
Eric Stokes, a redshirt freshman cornerback, came off the bench against Auburn and provided lockdown coverage opposite All-American candidate Deandre Baker, posting the highest rating of all of the defensive players.
An online oddsmaker told DawgNation last week that if Alabama and Georgia were to have played then, the Tide would be a 13 1/2-point favorite.
The odds look a lot better for the Bulldogs after their impressive win over Auburn, and there’s still two more games to be played before the Dec. 1 showdown in the SEC Championship Game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Another week to get better, Go Dawgs!!!
— Isaac Nauta (@inauta18) November 12, 2018
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