Georgia head coach Mark Richt has tried all week to quell the buildup, but there is no denying plenty is on the line when his sixth-ranked Bulldogs host No. 13 Alabama on Saturday in an early-season showdown full of SEC and playoff implications. The Bulldogs are soaring after opening the season with four resounding victories but face their first true test against the Crimson Tide, the SEC’s gold standard who broke Georgia’s hearts when the two schools last met, in the 2012 SEC championship game.
The Bulldogs, who have not won a national championship since 1980, fell five yards shy of beating the Crimson Tide for the conference title and a berth in the BCS title game three years ago. Georgia features a potent offensive attack, fronted by running back Nick Chubb (fifth nationally in rushing) and quarterback Greyson Lambert (second nationally in completion percentage). Alabama, which saw its quest for a perfect season snuffed in a 43-37 loss to fifth-ranked Ole Miss on Sept. 19, finally has settled on Jake Coker at quarterback to provide much needed stability to the Crimson Tide offense. Alabama will provide the biggest challenge Georgia’s rushing game has faced this season, the Crimson Tide ranking fourth nationally by holding opponents to 56.8 rushing yards per contest.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened Georgia -2 but that has been adjusted to -1.5. The total is down to 51 from the opening 52.
INJURY REPORT: Alabama – DB Jabriel Washington (Probable, knee), DL Jonathan Allen (Questionable, shoulder), K Gunnar Raborn (Out indefinitely, suspension), WR Robert Foster (Out for season, shoulder). Georgia – LB Davin Bellamy (Probable, undisclosed), WR Isaiah McKenzie (Probable, personal), FB Christian Payne (Out indefinitely, leg), SE Justin Scott-Wesley (Out indefinitely, knee).
WEATHER: Temperatures are expected to be in the low-60s with a 100 percent chance of rain and wind blowing across the field around seven miles per hour.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Crimson Tide can not afford another loss if they want to challenge for another SEC title, but they are an underdog at Georgia on Saturday. Greyson Lambert has thrown for 476 yards and five touchdowns on 33-of-35 passing in his last two starts. The Bulldogs host Alabama this week, and this game will likely make or break their season.” Covers Expert Jesse Schule.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “The Tide are 1-1 SU against ranked teams so far this season and face the 4-0 (SU) No. 8-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. We opened Georgia as 2.5 point faves at home but took nothing but action on the Tide to cover that number on the road, forcing us to move to Georgia -2 and eventually to our current number of Georgia -1.5. Alabama is still receiving the majority of the action with 67 percent.” Michael Stewart, CarbonSports.ag.
ABOUT ALABAMA (3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS, 2-2 O/U): Coker threw an interception for the third straight game in last week’s 34-0 shutout of ULM, but completed 17-of-31 passes for three touchdowns after splitting duty with Cooper Bateman in the first three games. The Crimson Tide’s offense has battled inconsistency since a crisp performance in the season-opening victory over Wisconsin, and a big day from running back Derrick Henry (422 yards rushing, 6.3 yards per carry) will be critical Saturday. So, too, will be the play of Alabama’s defensive front seven, considered one of the best units in the nation.
ABOUT GEORGIA (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS, 2-2 O/U): Lambert has completed 33 of his past 35 passes for 476 yards and five touchdowns in his past two games, directing a Bulldogs offense scoring 45.5 points per contest (11th nationally). Chubb is a legitimate Heisman candidate who enters Saturday having rushed for 100-plus yards in 12 consecutive contests, and has combined with Sony Michel for 10 rushing scores. The Bulldogs have allowed 13.5 points per game and will need to keep Henry and Coker in check in order to pull off one of their biggest victories in recent history.
* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings.
* Crimson Tide are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Bulldogs are 5-2 ATS in their last seven conference games.
* Over is 21-8 in Bulldogs last 29 home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Covers users are split with each team seeing 50 percent of the support.