After a winding journey through a college football season that had its share of ups and downs — even for the top teams in the country — the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship features a pair of familiar foes. It will be No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia squaring off Monday night in Indianapolis, just over five weeks after they played in the 2021 SEC Championship Game.
The Crimson Tide won that matchup 41-24, putting an end to the Bulldogs’ undefeated record and giving the Tide the top spot in the CFP Rankings entering the semifinal games. From there, Alabama cooly dispatched No. 4 Cincinnati 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl to reach this point, while Georgia returned to dominant form with a 34-11 drubbing of No. 2 Michigan in the Orange Bowl.
That impressive showing for the Bulldogs was enough to make them a slight favorite over Alabama for the CFP National Championship, despite the outcome of the SEC Championship Game. If Georgia can pull off the victory, it would mark the program’s first national title since 1980. Beating Alabama to reach that milestone would make the achievement even more significant since sixth-year UGA coach Kirby Smart is 0-4 against the Crimson Tide since taking over the Bulldogs program.
Smart was Alabama’s defensive coordinator for the program’s first four national championships under coach Nick Saban, who has tallied six national championships with the Crimson Tide since taking the job in 2007. This is a familiar position for Saban, whose 2017 team came from behind to beat Georgia in the 2018 CFP National Championship.
How to watch national championship 2022
Alabama vs. Georgia: Alternate viewing options
- Coaches Film Room — ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free)
- Command Center — ESPNU, fuboTV (Try for free)
- Skycast — ESPNEWS, fuboTV (Try for free)
- Hometown radio (Alabama 1H, Georgia 2H) — SEC Network, fuboTV (Try for free)
- All-22, halftime band performances and more available via ESPN’s app
Alabama vs. Georgia storylines
Alabama: Alabama established the tone against Cincinnati with some bully ball on its opening possession, running on 10 straight plays before going to the air for the game’s first touchdown. For a team that did not have an elite rushing attack for much of the season, it was quite a statement. Alabama totaled 301 yards rushing in the game, and if it can bring some of the momentum generated on the ground into this game, it’ll do wonders.
Alabama used an all-out aerial assault to win the SEC title over Georgia, but leading receiver John Metchie III was lost to a knee injury in that game. Expect the Bulldogs to adjust and make life harder on Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young and his top target, Jameson Williams. Crimson Tide running backs Brian Robinson Jr. and Trey Sanders totaled just 76 yards rushing on 22 carries in the first meeting. If Alabama can bring the multi-dimensional prowess it showed against the Bearcats to this matchup, it’ll have a chance to neutralize Georgia’s defense yet again.
Georgia: Astonishingly, Georgia failed to sack Young in the first meeting, but the Bulldogs were effective at disrupting him when they sent blitzes. Young was just 8 of 20 passing for 104 yards when the Bulldogs sent five or more pass rushers, according to TruMedia data. Expect defensive coordinator Dan Lanning to dial up plenty of pressure in his final game before he devotes his full attention to his new job as Oregon’s coach.
Offensively, quarterback Stetson Bennett appeared to squash the questions over whether his job may be in jeopardy during the Orange Bowl as he completed 20 of 30 passes for 313 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. The Bulldogs moved the ball effectively against Alabama in the last meeting, but Bennett’s two interceptions hampered their chances of getting back in the game. Bennett is 0-2 against Alabama as Georgia’s starting quarterback and leading UGA to a landmark national title would be the ultimate validation for the undersized former walk-on who has been doubted his entire career.
Alabama vs. Georgia prediction, pick
Featured Game | Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Alabama’s back was against the wall when these teams met on Dec. 4 in the SEC Championship Game, and it showed. The Crimson Tide turned in a second quarter for the ages and raced to a 41-24 victory that de-legitimized Georgia’s accomplishments during a dominant regular season. The nature of that loss — with the Crimson Tide dissecting UGA’s celebrated defense — will motivate the Bulldogs, who will use what they learned to play much better defensively in the rematch. This time, it’s Georgia playing with a chip on its shoulder, and that will show as the Bulldogs finally breakthrough for the program’s first national championship in over four decades. Pick: Georgia -2.5 | Georgia 38, Alabama 20