With Georgia and Alabama beating Oklahoma and Clemson, respectively, on New Year’s Day, the college football world will have its second all-SEC national title game since 2011.
The Bulldogs and Tide will meet Jan. 8 in Atlanta. Georgia is seeking its first national title since 1980, while Alabama is vying for its fifth national title in nine seasons.
“It’s going to be a good one, there’s no doubt about it,” former SEC Coach of the Year and current CBS Sports college football analyst Houston Nutt said on The DA Show. “Now I do think . . . when you use that much emotion and you’re out in California (for the Rose Bowl) and now you got to travel back, I think that is a disadvantage (for Georgia). I know they’re young. I get it. They’re going to get in the (hot tub and recover) and all those things. But I just think Kirby (Smart) will have to manage that because there’s a lot of energy spent and they know they’re down to 60 minutes for a national title, (whereas) Alabama didn’t have to go too far.”
Indeed, Alabama, which won the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, stayed close to home.
“I think that’s advantage to Alabama,” Nutt said. “But this is going to be a great one. Both teams are very, very good, very talented on both sides of the ball. But I just feel like Alabama has the edge.”
The Tide dominated Clemson, 24-6, on Monday. The Tigers mustered just 188 yards, committed two turnovers – including a pick-six – and were held out of the end zone for the first time all season.
The six points were a far cry from the 75 that Clemson scored against Alabama in the first two installments of the Tide/Tigers trilogy.
“I think this was a different Clemson team,” Nutt said. “When you look at Deshaun Watson and his group, you had a 1,000-yard back in Wayne Gallman, you had a receiver like (Mike) Williams, and Deshaun could really make some throws down the field. Well, if you look at the game film again, you can see the corners and safeties are sitting on top of the receivers. There was no backpedaling, there was no running out of there, there wasn’t a respect factor there as far as getting the ball down the field. They were sitting on top of these routes, and they challenged them so hard you didn’t see much separation.”
Bryant finished 18-of-36 for 124 yards and two picks and ran 19 times for just 19 yards. As a team, Clemson rushed 33 times for 64 yards (1.9 yards per carry).
“Kelly Bryant is more of a runner (than Watson) – probably a better runner,” Nutt said. “A bigger guy and a good runner. But again, with the defense that (Alabama was) playing, hey, there wasn’t any running room. It was hard to make first downs. I just think it’s a little different team. Kelly Bryant doesn’t throw the ball as good as Deshaun Watson, and the defense of Alabama was just smothering the running game altogether.”