Georgia favored over Alabama again, rematch set in CFP Championship Game

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart gestures during the first half of the Orange Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game against Michigan, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Rebecca Blackwell

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Kirby Smart didn’t have time to shave or prepare much of a statement when ESPN called looking for a live, national interview.

But the 46-year-old Georgia head coach was still ready to handle his College GameDay appearance on Saturday, looking to take advantage of the opportunity to get out in front of any recruits who might be watching.

The Bulldogs are a hot commodity once again, favored by 2 1/2 points over Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game

“We just landed,” Smart said upon arriving at Ben Epps Airport in Athens, doing the interview while holding his phone at an awkward angle during his FaceTime Video interview.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart didn't worry about looking perfect or finding an ideal camera angle for his ESPN interview on Saturday.
ESPN screenshot, Dawgnation

Some 12 hours before, Smart was walking off the Hard Rock Stadium field in Miami.

Georgia beat Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl College Football Semifinal on Friday night to advance to face the Tide at 8 p.m. on Jan. 10 in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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The question for Smart was: When would the Bulldogs start thinking about their game with the Tide?

It’s a rematch of Alabama’s 41-24 win in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 4.

“That was last night,” Smart said “It doesn’t take long, you know when you’ve got to play those guys (Alabama), you have to get ready.”

Smart said the staff is eager to dig deep into another scouting report and put together a better game plan.

“We have some good notes from the last time we played them,” Smart said. “And we certainly want to get a better plan for the players.”

Smart indicated having his team ready for the Wolverines in the Orange Bowl wasn’t as challenging as some might have imagined.

“It was easy because we didn’t play well in our last outing,” Smart said. “And a lot of those guys have a lot of pride.”

It didn’t hurt that Georgia got off to its best start in a football game since its 37-0 win over Arkansas on Oct. 7.

“It’s easier to play when you’ve got a 17-0 lead and it’s clicking,” Smart said. “We were explosive, aggressive; we have some good playmakers, and we’re finally getting healthy.”

Smart credited his staff for keeping the team prepared, along with the team leaders.

“It’s not easy to practice during that (layoff),” Smart said. “You have a lot of practices where the game is still far away. We had some good practices in Miami, and the leadership really bought in.”

Georgia was a 6 1/2-point favorite before the teams met earlier this month. It marked the first time in 92 games Alabama was not favored.

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