The College Football Playoff semifinals are all said and done, with No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia taking care of business against No. 4 Cincinnati and No. 2 Michigan.
The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs will meet for the second time this season, this time in the CFP national championship at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 10.
This will be the second time Georgia and Alabama have met in a CFP title game, as Alabama came back to win 26-23 in overtime in the 2017 season. The Crimson Tide is chasing its fourth CFP title and 19th national title overall, while the Bulldogs are going for their first title since 1980 and third overall.
Here are the four factors that will decide this season’s title game:
1. Georgia must slow down Bryce Young
Alabama QB Bryce Young was the key in the first matchup between these two teams when he torched Georgia’s defense for 421 passing yards and four total touchdowns to supercharge his Heisman win. In the CFP semifinals against Cincinnati, Young wasn’t as effective — though he still had three touchdowns — with 181 yards and an interception. Georgia will have to follow Cincinnati and keep Young in the pocket. He had 40 rushing yards and a touchdown in the SEC title game.
2. The Crimson Tide pass blocking needs to improve
Continuing with the theme of Alabama’s passing game, the Tide’s offensive line didn’t have its best game on the pass protection side in the semifinals. Granted, the front line was a huge factor in RB Brian Robinson Jr. recording 204 rushing yards in the win, but it also allowed two sacks and four QB hurries along with a few other dicey situations for Young.
The Bulldogs' defense should be a challenge. Against Michigan, linebackers Nakobe Dean (the Butkus Award winner) and Nolan Smith combined for 15 total tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss. Alabama piled up 536 yards in the first meeting in Atlanta for the SEC title. Can Georgia bring that total down in the rematch?
3. Georgia QB Stetson Bennett has to continue to step up
Bennett had one of his best games in a Bulldogs uniform against Michigan. He threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns against a Wolverines defense that allowed 196.1 passing yards on average prior to this game. That followed his 340-yard outing in the SEC title game loss to Alabama, when Bennett tossed two picks — with one a pick-6.
4. Get the ball to the playmakers
This is a key for both teams, especially Georgia. The Bulldogs showed what happens when everyone gets involved on offense. Four different receivers had a touchdown in the win against Michigan. Against Alabama, UGA was really only able to feed TE Brock Bowers (139 yards, 10 receptions, one touchdown), who was the only Bulldog player to total over 50 yards. Against Michigan, Georgia had four different players with at least 50 yards of offense. The Bulldogs would love to share the ball and dictate the flow — and avoid needing to keep pace with Young.
For Alabama, without WR John Metchie III, Young will have to rely on WRs Jameson Williams and Slay Bolden to pick up the slack. It will be interesting to see if head coach Nick Saban decides to stick with the game plan that won the SEC championship or go with a more even mix of running and passing play calling.