Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/29/12
In the BCS Standings they are No.2 and No.3. But for most observers, this is the national championship game. Not since Florida and Alabama were 1 and 2 heading into the first week of December has an SEC Championship Game been as big. Either team, Alabama or Georgia, will be favored over Notre Dame. But unlike previous SEC Championships, the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are more than two closely matched teams near the top of the national rankings: They are virtual mirror-images of each other. Both play 3-4 defenses that throw a lot of different looks at opposing quarterbacks; both have pro-style quarterbacks that are among the best in the nation in pass efficiency; and they both have a tandem of running backs with bruising power and breakaway speed. I think passing efficiency sums it all up, Nick Saban said early in the week when asked about the two quarterbacks. These two guys have done it as well as anybody in our league, maybe as well as anybody in the country. Saban was also complimentary of Georgias runners, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, a pair whose production has earned them the melded nickname Gurshall, a word-play on Herschel that Georgia fans find uproariously clever. Todd (Gurley) is a little bit like our guys, Saban said, referring to the Tides pair of runners, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. He is big, physical, he can (run) inside or outside and can make you miss. He also has power. Their second guy (Marhsall) is a very good back in all those regards, but he is also a very fast guy. So there is a little change of pace there that the players have to be aware of. You definitely need to make sure that you keep better leverage. You always have to keep good leverage on the runner, but I think when you have guys that have great speed, you have to really be conscious of that. So, with similar offenses, similar defenses, and no discernible differences on special teams, why is Alabama favored to win? Easy, they are better in the areas that dont get all the hype. The key for Alabama is not the skill players, not the guys whose names get called and who have stats posted online every week: Its the guys whose named you hardly ever hear, guys like center Barrett Jones, who will likely be an All American for the third straight year playing three different positions, and Cyrus Kouandjio, one of the best Alabama offensive tackles since John Hannah. D.J. Flucker, Anthony Steen, and Chance Warmack: not names you hear called out on television, and not players who will be interviewed afterward, but these are the men who will make the difference. Championship games are about controlling the ball, chewing up the clock and wearing down opposing defenses. That uncelebrated burden falls on the offensive line. And on that front these two teams are not all that close. Alabama has the best front five in the nation. Georgias offensive linemen have struggled and will need to have the game of their lives to keep their team in this championship. Murray and McCarron, Yelcey and Gurshall could all have great games. But down there where the big men play is where this one will be decided. And in those trenches is where Alabama has won the day almost every time theyve taken the field.
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