Alabama dominates second half, beats Georgia 41-24
So much for that halftime deficit. So much for Georgia finally solving the Alabama puzzle.
Alabama's receivers, quarterback Mac Jones and, yes, even its defense, owned the second half as the No. 2 Crimson Tide pulled away from No. 3 Georgia 41-24 on Saturday night. It's Alabama's six consecutive win against Georgia.
As expected Jones had a huge game, throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns while receivers Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III each made huge plays. Both Smith and Waddle topped 160 receiving yards. And on the ground, running back Najee Harris powered his way to 150 yards and a score.
DeVonta Smith is really, really good...that's really all you can say. pic.twitter.com/rIYop9K6zM— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 18, 2020
For a while, Georgia's defense helped Stetson Bennett and the offense take a 24-20 lead at the half. But the Bulldogs slumped in the second half by going punt-punt-interception-interception-missed field goal. Bennett closed with 269 passing yards and two touchdowns but also threw three interceptions.
It all added up to too much for Georgia to keep pace. Instead, Alabama defeated the Bulldogs again as coach Nick Saban moved to 22-0 against his former assistants.
Alabama outgained UGA 564 to 414 and forced three turnovers.
Alabama's big-play offense, defense control third quarter
Going in, Alabama expected big numbers and points from the offense. But the defense has emerged in the crucial third quarter.
Georgia's offensive possessions have gone punt-punt-interception, a significant stretch that allowed the Tide go surge ahead by 10 points.
The Alabama receivers continue to add highlight catch after highlight catch, as Jaylen Waddle's 90-yard touchdown catch gave the Tide the lead. Waddle is up to 161 yards, with DeVonta Smith at 147 yards.
Georgia will now have to try and keep pace with Alabama.
GOODBYE JAYLEN WADDLE! 90 YARDS TO THE HOUSE! pic.twitter.com/SCaA6rYY9e— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 18, 2020
Georgia 24, Alabama 20 | Halftime
Georgia is halfway home to ending a losing streak to Alabama at five games — barely. The offense is a big reason why.
After throwing an early pick, and despite some lingering problems throwing over the Alabama front, Bulldogs QB Stetson Bennett has been solid at 177 yards and two touchdowns. He's completing under 50 percent of his passes (12-for-25), but he's made big throws when needed and has gotten a boost from the ground game. Kendall Milton and Zamir White have combined for 61 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Alabama's offense has also been strong, even after an early Mac Jones interception. Jones is up to 224 yards and two touchdowns. RB Najee Harris is putting together another impressive game with 80 rushing yards. 'Bama is on pace for just under 600 offensive yards and is averaging 7.3 yards per play.
One stat that could be telling: Georgia is 5-for-9 on third-down conversions. The second half will depend on which defense steps up.
Georgia run game opens up offense to pull ahead
After an unexpected, turnover-heavy start, Georgia has surged ahead.
After both Alabama QB Mac Jones and Georgia QB Stetson Bennett threw interceptions, the Tide went ahead briefly. But then the Bulldogs established the run.
UGA running backs Kenny McIntosh and Zamir White found room as the Georgia offensive line pushed aside the Alabama defensive line and linebackers, especially on a 10-yard White TD run.
Georgia struggled earlier in the season on the ground, particularly in the opener at Arkansas, but the Bulldogs have room early tonight. That opened up the passing game, where Bennett found James Cook for an 82-yard touchdown connection.
THE MAILMAN COOKIN' UP TOUCHDOWNS pic.twitter.com/ClO8MmixWL— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 18, 2020
Alabama vs. Georgia: Pregame
Is tonight the moment when Georgia finally beats Alabama and emerges as the SEC favorite? Or is Alabama still Alabama?
Those are only two of the questions going into tonight's game. One thing we do know: Nick Saban has been cleared to coach tonight's game after fulfilling the SEC's COVID-19 testing requirements.
Through two games, QB Stetson Bennett has more than steadied Georgia's offense while the UGA defense overwhelmed Auburn and Tennessee in key moments. Alabama has seen a different run to 3-0, as QB Mac Jones and RB Najee Harris have scored in bunches to make up for a defense has hasn't looked consistently strong.
Also, around the country today, the big surprises have involved the SEC. South Carolina picked off Bo Nix three times in a 30-22 win against No. 15 Auburn. And Kentucky opened the scoring with two pick-sixes to rout No. 18 Tennessee, 34-7. It's only Oct. 17 and only four SEC teams have one or fewer losses: Alabama (3-0), Georgia (3-0), Florida (2-1) and Texas A&M (3-1).
But there's a long way to go, no matter who wins in Tuscaloosa tonight.
We are READY 🎉 pic.twitter.com/NTxBLtVKkC— Alabama Athletics (@UA_Athletics) October 17, 2020
Nick Saban cleared following third negative COVID-19 test report
The SEC and Alabama's team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson announced Saturday afternoon that Nick Saban has been cleared to coach the Georgia vs. Alabama game tonight. The SEC released a statement explaining its testing protocols and how three negative tests were reported 24 hours apart.
"Consistent with the Conference's COVID-19 management requirements, PAE, the third-party provider secured by the SEC to standardize and provide testing for the 14 member institutions, has utilized the authorized laboratory in processing and reporting the three tests 24 hours apart as necessary to satisfy the requirements of the Task Force policy regarding the handling of asymptomatic PCR positive tests."
Here's the official statement from the SEC:
How to watch Alabama vs. Georgia
It's time for the most anticipated game of the season — at least to this point. It's No. 2 Alabama against No. 3 Georgia, where the Bulldogs try to end a five-game losing streak to the Tide and emerge as the SEC favorite.
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
- TV channel: CBS
- Streaming: CBSSports.com
- Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Previewing Alabama vs. Georgia
Georgia has come about as close as you can get to beating Alabama in recent years. On Saturday, the Bulldogs get another chance.
Three of the last four meetings have been classics. In 2012, Georgia reached the 'Bama 5 as time ran out in the SEC Championship Game. In January 2018, Alabama rallied to stun Georgia in OT to win the national title. In December 2018, the Tide came back again to shock Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
The Bulldogs probably think 2020 could end differently. QB Stetson Bennett took over during the opener against Arkansas and has come through. UGA won big against ranked Auburn and Tennessee in consecutive weeks, with Bennett up to 689 passing yards and five touchdowns without an interception. On defense, the stingy unit is allowing only 12.3 points per game — and only 38.3 yards per game on the ground.
Alabama's offense will be a great test. QB Mac Jones has passed for 1,101 yards in just three games, while RB Najee Harris has already scored 10 touchdowns.
But there are major concerns about the defense. For so long, Alabama's defensive dominance helped it bully the rest of the SEC and other. This season, the Tide is surrendering 30 points per game — and Ole Miss totaled 647 yards just last week.
But if the game turns into a can-you-stop-me contest, can Georgia keep up? The Bulldogs' rushing attack has been inconsistent, which is something Alabama hasn't worried about with its offense.
Throw in coach Nick Saban testing positive with COVID, and it's been an unusual season in Tuscaloosa, even if Alabama keeps on winning. And even if Georgia does finally beat Alabama, there's a chance it may have to do it again in December for the SEC crown.
AP Poll update
Only Clemson ranks ahead of Alabama and Georgia in both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. Here's what the Week 7 rankings look like:
|AP Poll||Ranking||Coaches Poll|
|Notre Dame||4||Notre Dame|
|North Carolina||5||Ohio State|
|Ohio State||6||North Carolina|
|Oklahoma State||7||Oklahoma State|
|Texas A&M||11||Texas A&M|
|Iowa State||20||Iowa State|
|Kansas State||22||Kansas State|
|Virginia Tech||23||Virginia Tech|
Alabama and Georgia play at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. Here's the Saturday's Top 25 schedule:
Saturday, Oct. 17
- No. 1 Clemson at Georgia Tech | 12 p.m. | ABC
- No. 3 Georgia at No. 2 Alabama | 8 p.m. | CBS
- Louisville at No. 4 Notre Dame | 2:30 p.m. | NBC
- No. 5 North Carolina at Florida State | 7 p.m. | ESPN
- No. 7 Oklahoma State at Baylor — POSTPONED
- No. 8 Cincinnati at Tulsa — POSTPONED
- LSU at No. 10 Florida — POSTPONED
- No. 11 Texas A&M at Mississippi State | 4 p.m. | ESPN
- Pitt at No. 13 Miami | 12 p.m. | ACC Network
- No. 15 Auburn at South Carolina | 12 p.m. | ESPN
- Kentucky at No. 18 Tennessee | 12 p.m. | SEC Network
- Boston College at No. 23 Virginia Tech | 8 p.m. | ACC Network
Alabama vs. Georgia: Series history
The Crimson Tide have won the last five meetings, often in important games. In 2012, Alabama held off Georgia to win the SEC Championship Game. In January 2018 (2017 season), the Tide defeated UGA in a thriller to win the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. In the most recent meeting, Alabama rallied to stun Georgia at the 2018 SEC title game.
Alabama leads the series 40-25-4. Here are all the meetings since 2000:
|Dec. 1, 2018||Atlanta, GA (SEC Championship)||Alabama||35-28|
|Jan. 8, 2018||Atlanta, GA (CFP title game)||Alabama||26-23 (OT)|
|Oct. 3, 2015||Athens, GA||Alabama||38-10|
|Dec. 1, 2012||Atlanta, GA (SEC Championship)||Alabama||32-28|
|Sept. 27, 2008||Athens, GA||Alabama||41-30|
|Sept. 22, 2007||Tuscaloosa, AL||Georgia||26-23|
|Oct. 4, 2003||Athens, GA||Georgia||37-23|
|Oct. 5, 2002||Tuscaloosa, AL||Georgia||27-25|
Alabama vs. Georgia: How they stack up
Both Alabama and Georgia are 3-0. Here's how they line up, statistically:
|3-0||Record (all SEC games)||3-0|
|No. 2||AP rank||No. 3|
|51.0||Points per game||36.0|
|560.3||Yards per game||420.0|
|322.3||Pass yards allowed||198.3|
|150.7||Rush yards allowed||38.3|
1,101 yards (8 TDs, 1 INT)
|Passing leader||Stetson Bennett
689 yards (5 TDs, 0 INT)
347 yards (10 TDs)
|Rushing leader||Zamir White
209 yards (4 TDs)
396 yards (3 TDs)
|Receiving leader||Kearis Jackson
300 yards (1 TD)
27 total tackles (3.5 TFL)
18 total tackles (2 TFL)