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Scouting CFB title game: Things to watch in Alabama vs. Georgia


The national championship game matchup is set, and it will be an all SEC affair. Alabama dominated against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl to advance to face Georgia, which slowed down Baker Mayfield in the Rose Bowl to win a double-overtime thriller.

There will be a ton of top-tier prospects on the field when the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide meet on Jan. 8 in the title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The draft-eligible talent for these two programs is very deep, but there are also a lot of young players to keep an eye on for future years.

Here's what scouts will be watching for in this game.

1. Who wins the battle between Georgia's RBs and Alabama's DBs?

This is the No. 1 matchup I'm looking forward to scouting. Watching Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison go up against Nick Chubb and Sony Michel is going to be a treat.

I love the Georgia RBs -- it seemed like they were unstoppable against Oklahoma -- but those Tide DBs are such good tacklers. Based on the limited amount of room the Alabama front seven is going to give to the Bulldogs rushers, I think Alabama has the edge in this matchup.

2. Can the best linebacker in the nation stop Alabama's rushing attack?

On one side of the field, you have the nation's top safety in Fitzpatrick. On the other side of the field, you have the country's top linebacker in Georgia's Roquan Smith.

Smith was the best player on the field in the Rose Bowl. There were a lot of impressive performances in that game, but when Georgia needed someone to make a play, Smith delivered every time.

He's going to have to play as well or better against Alabama.

3. What does Da'Ron Payne have in store for us in his second act of the postseason?

Reuben Foster was the Alabama defender who took his game to another level in the playoff last year, and Payne has emerged as the front-runner to play that same role for the Tide defense this season.

The 308-pound defensive lineman picked off a pass against Clemson, and then caught a TD pass a few plays later.

4. Don't sleep on The Ridley Factor.

Ridley scored a TD on Monday night against Clemson. It was only his fourth score of the season. Yes, his numbers don't jump off the page, but some execs think he's the best WR in college football. I think he'll have a better pro career than college career. He's going to have so many more opportunities to make plays at the next level than he has to this point in the Alabama offense.

I'll be interested to see his battles against Georgia CB Deandre Baker, a prospect to watch.

5. Despite all the draft-eligible talent in this contest, the game will probably be decided by which one of the young QBs handles the pressure the best.

Neither Georgia's Jake Fromm or Alabama's Jalen Hurts is draft-eligible this year. I'm not sure what the future holds for Hurts when it comes to his prospects for the next level, but based on my initial in-person look at Fromm in the Rose Bowl, I'm very intrigued. He made some clutch throws against Oklahoma.

Both Hurts and Fromm are very mature for young players. They're both probably going to have to play a larger role than they're used to because the defenses for both clubs are going to try to force them to make plays.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.



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