Oct 10, 2020; Oxford, MX, USA;  Alabama head coach Nick Saban before the game against Mississippi at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kent Gidley via USA TODAY Sports

News Articles

SEC heavyweights throw down in Tuscaloosa

The first titanic matchup of the college football season is here, featuring a pair of quarterbacks looking for the biggest victory of their careers.

The stakes and the storylines will be plentiful when No. 2 Alabama hosts No. 3 Georgia on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, but much of the pregame hype figures to spin on the season starts of Tide quarterback Mac Jones and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett. Both teams are 3-0, all in SEC play.

Jones is the national leader in passing efficiency with a rating of 220.3, having completed 66 of 83 passes for 1,101 yards, with eight touchdowns and one interception. Jones has thrown for 852 yards in the past two games, leading the Crimson Tide to a total of 115 points vs. Texas A&M and Ole Miss.

Jones, a junior, was at least something of a known entity heading into the season, starting four games last year for an injured Tua Tagovailoa. Bennett, however, has been nearly a complete surprise.

The 5-foot-11 junior was probably the Bulldogs’ fourth choice at quarterback in the offseason. But then Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman opted out of the season, USC transfer J.T. Daniels wasn’t medically cleared for the opener, and D’Wan Mathis lasted only 17 passes as the starter before Bennett got his shot.

He’s hitting 63.1 percent of his passes (53 of 84) for 689 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I honestly think he’s just himself. He doesn’t try to be someone else. He doesn’t try to artificially lead or fake it. He never did that while he was trying to compete for the job and he hasn’t done it since he got the job,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart.

“I think the skill players on offense, the offensive line, they all trust him and rally around him because they know he understands what we’re trying to do offensively and he can put them in good situations.”

Much of the same is true for Jones, who isn’t an athletic marvel but takes advantage of great personnel around him, including future first-rounders on the offensive line, speedy wideouts DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, and dangerous running backs Najee Harris (10 touchdowns this season) and Brian Robinson Jr.

Alabama leads the nation at 51.0 points per game, but its defense is far from coach Nick Saban’s standards. The Tide gave up a school record 643 yards last week in a 63-48 win over fast-paced Ole Miss.

“We’ve had some guys that have made multiple mistakes; either have to get that fixed or replace them,” Saban said. “And we’re going to work in every endeavor and try to get better. Believe me, there is no one satisfied with the way we played.”

Georgia has the rare SEC defense satisfied with its play this season.

The Bulldogs are first nationally in rushing defense (38.3 yards per game), second in total defense (236.7) and tied for fifth in scoring defense (12.3 points per game). Georgia has allowed just six points in the second half this season.

“Maybe the best defensive team in the country all the way around when you talk about stopping the run, having good pass defense, getting off the field on third down,” Saban said.

Alabama has won the past five meetings, including two over Smart — in an overtime thriller in the 2017 national title game and in the 2018 SEC championship game. Smart was an Alabama assistant under Saban from 2007 to 2015, almost all as the defensive coordinator.

Saban is 21-0 against his former assistants.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

Upcoming Games

Aug 28th, 1:00 PM

Nebraska -9.5 -107

Illinois +9.5 -107

@

Aug 28th, 2:00 PM

UCONN +25.5 -110

Fresno State -25.5 -110

@

Aug 28th, 3:30 PM

Hawaii +9.5 -110

UCLA -9.5 -110

@

Aug 28th, 9:30 PM

UTEP -9 -107

New Mexico State +9 -107

@

Aug 28th, 10:00 PM

Southern Utah

San Jose State (24)

@

Sep 1st, 7:30 PM

UAB

Jacksonville State

@

Sep 2nd, 6:30 PM

Temple +13 -110

Rutgers -13 -110

@

Sep 2nd, 7:00 PM

LIU

Florida International (FIU)

@

Sep 2nd, 7:00 PM

Western Illinois

Ball State (23)

@

Sep 2nd, 7:00 PM

The Citadel

Coastal Carolina (14)

@

Sep 2nd, 7:00 PM

Wagner

Buffalo (25)

@

Sep 2nd, 7:00 PM

Boise State +3.5 -110

UCF -3.5 -110

@

Sep 2nd, 7:30 PM

Weber State

Utah

@

Sep 2nd, 7:30 PM

USF +16.5 -110

NC State -16.5 -110

@

Sep 2nd, 7:30 PM

UC Davis

Tulsa

@

Sep 2nd, 7:30 PM

East Carolina +13.5 -110

Appalachian State -13.5 -110

@

Sep 2nd, 8:00 PM

Ohio State (2) -14 -110

Minnesota +14 -110

@

Sep 2nd, 8:00 PM

Houston Baptist

New Mexico

@

Sep 2nd, 8:00 PM

Bowling Green +27 -110

Tennessee -27 -110

@

Sep 2nd, 8:00 PM

Tennessee-Martin

WKU

@

Sep 2nd, 10:00 PM

Eastern Washington

UNLV

@

Sep 2nd, 10:30 PM

Southern Utah

Arizona State

@

Sep 3rd, 6:00 PM

North Carolina (18) -6 -107

Virginia Tech +6 -107

@

Sep 3rd, 7:00 PM

St. Francis-PA

Eastern Michigan

@

Sep 3rd, 7:00 PM

Old Dominion +35 -110

Wake Forest -35 -110

@

Sep 3rd, 7:00 PM

Duke -7.5 -110

Charlotte +7.5 -110

@

Sep 3rd, 8:00 PM

South Dakota

Kansas

@

Sep 3rd, 9:00 PM

Northern Colorado

Colorado

@

Sep 3rd, 9:00 PM

Michigan State +7.5 -107

Northwestern (10) -7.5 -107

@

Sep 3rd, 9:00 PM

South Dakota State

Colorado State

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Colgate

Boston College

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Louisiana-Monroe +27.5 -110

Kentucky -27.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Army +4 -110

Georgia State -4 -110

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Stanford +2 -105

Kansas State -2 -105

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Holy Cross

UCONN

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Oklahoma (6) -21 -110

Tulane +21 -110

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Western Michigan +17 -110

Michigan -17 -110

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Penn State +4.5 -110

Wisconsin -4.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 12:00 PM

Fordham

Nebraska

@

Sep 4th, 2:00 PM

Fresno State +20.5 -110

Oregon -20.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 2:00 PM

Rice +24.5 -110

Arkansas -24.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 2:00 PM

Lafayette

Air Force

@

Sep 4th, 3:30 PM

Alabama (1) -19 -107

Miami-FL (22) +19 -107

@

Sep 4th, 3:30 PM

Miami-OH +19 -110

Cincinnati (8) -19 -110

@

Sep 4th, 3:30 PM

Marshall -3.5 -110

Navy +3.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 3:30 PM

Indiana (12) +6.5 -110

Iowa (16) -6.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 3:30 PM

West Virginia -4.5 -110

Maryland +4.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 4:00 PM

Central Michigan +11 -110

Missouri -11 -110

@

Sep 4th, 4:00 PM

LA Tech +30.5 -110

Mississippi State -30.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 4:00 PM

Massachusetts +36 -110

Pittsburgh -36 -110

@

Sep 4th, 4:00 PM

Montana State

Wyoming

@

Sep 4th, 4:30 PM

Northern Iowa

Iowa State (9)

@

Sep 4th, 4:30 PM

Louisiana-Lafayette (15) +14.5 -115

Texas (19) -14.5 -115

@

Sep 4th, 5:00 PM

San Jose State (24) +17 -110

USC (21) -17 -110

@

Sep 4th, 6:00 PM

Campbell

Liberty (17)

@

Sep 4th, 6:00 PM

Gardner-Webb

Georgia Southern

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Eastern Illinois

South Carolina

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Akron +34.5 -110

Auburn -34.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Southern University

Troy

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Missouri State

Oklahoma State (20)

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Monmouth-New Jersey

Middle Tennessee

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Baylor -10 -110

Texas State +10 -110

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Syracuse -1 -110

Ohio +1 -110

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Central Arkansas

Arkansas State

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Norfolk State

Toledo

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Texas Tech -7.5 -110

Houston +7.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Nicholls State

Memphis

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Abilene Christian

SMU

@

Sep 4th, 7:00 PM

Oregon State +6 -107

Purdue -6 -107

@

Sep 4th, 7:30 PM

Georgia (7) +3.5 -107

Clemson (3) -3.5 -107

@

Sep 4th, 7:30 PM

Florida Atlantic +24 -110

Florida (13) -24 -110

@

Sep 4th, 7:30 PM

NIU +13.5 -110

Georgia Tech -13.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 7:30 PM

Northwestern State

North Texas

@

Sep 4th, 7:30 PM

William & Mary

Virginia

@

Sep 4th, 7:30 PM

UTSA +7.5 -107

Illinois -7.5 -107

@

Sep 4th, 8:00 PM

Montana

Washington

@

Sep 4th, 8:00 PM

East Tennessee State

Vanderbilt

@

Sep 4th, 8:00 PM

Kent State +29 -110

Texas A&M (4) -29 -110

@

Sep 4th, 8:00 PM

Southern Miss -1.5 -105

South Alabama +1.5 -105

@

Sep 4th, 8:00 PM

Duquesne

TCU

@

Sep 4th, 8:30 PM

LSU -3.5 -115

UCLA +3.5 -115

@

Sep 4th, 9:00 PM

Bethune-Cookman

UTEP

@

Sep 4th, 10:30 PM

Nevada +2 -110

California -2 -110

@

Sep 4th, 10:30 PM

BYU (11) -10 -105

Arizona +10 -105

@

Sep 4th, 10:30 PM

New Mexico State +28.5 -110

San Diego State -28.5 -110

@

Sep 4th, 11:00 PM

Utah State +11.5 -110

Washington State -11.5 -110

@