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CFT Previews & Predictions: Georgia-Alabama Tale of the Tape

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WHO
No. 3 Georgia (13-1) vs. No. 4 Alabama (12-1)

WHAT
The College Football Playoff championship game, presented by AT&T

WHEN
8:00 p.m. ET (8:17 p.m. ET kickoff)

WHERE
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

HEAD COACHES
Georgia’s Kirby Smart (13-1 in his first season with the Bulldogs, 13-1 overall)
Alabama’s Nick Saban (126-20 in 11 seasons with the Crimson Tide, 217-62-1 overall; five national championships)

STATISTICAL LEADERS
Georgia
Passing: Jake Fromm, 165-259 (63.7%), 2,383 yards, 23 touchdowns, five interceptions
Rushing: Nick Chubb, 1,320 yards; Sony Michel, 16 touchdowns
Receiving: Javon Wims, 44 receptions, 704 yards, seven touchdowns
Punt returns: Mecole Hardman, 11.3 yards per on 21 returns
Kick returns: Hardman. 27.5 yards per on 17 returns
Punting: Cameron Nizialek, 44.9 yards per, 25 of 55 inside 20
Kicking: Rodrigo Blankenship, 17-20 field goals, long of 55; 61-61 extra points
Tackles: Roquan Smith, 124
Tackles for loss: D’Andre Walker, 13½
Sacks: Smith and Walker, 5½
QB Hits: Smith, 17
Interceptions: Dominick Sanders, four
Passes breakups: Deandre Baker, nine

Alabama
Passing: Jalen Hurts, 151-247 (61.1%), 2,060 yards, 17 touchdowns, one interception
Rushing: Damien Harris, 983 yards, 11 touchdowns
Receiving: Calvin Ridley, 59 receptions, 935 yards; Henry Ruggs III, five touchdowns
Punt returns: Trevon Diggs, 8.9 per on 13 returns
Kick returns: Ruggs III, 18.4 per on 13 returns
Punting: JK Scott, 42.4 yards per, 25 of 48 inside 20
Kicking: Andy Pappanastos, 16-21 field goals, long of 46; 54-54 extra points
Tackles: Ronnie Harrison, 70
Tackles for loss: Rashaan Evans, 11½
Sacks: Raekwon Davis, 7½
Interceptions: Mack Wilson, four
Passes breakups: Levi Wallace, 14

STATISTICAL MATCHUPS
Alabama’s 10th-ranked rush offense (255.8 ypg) vs. Georgia’s 20th-ranked run defense (121.9 ypg)
UGA’s 8th-ranked rush offense (267.4 ypg) vs. UA’s top-ranked run defense (91.8 ypg)
UA’s 91st-ranked pass offense (193.9 ypg) vs. UGA’s 8th-ranked pass defense (167.6 ypg)
UGA’s 109th-ranked pass offense (172.9 ypg) vs. UA’s 3rd-ranked pass defense (160.6 ypg)
UA’s 12th-ranked scoring offense (37.9 ppg) vs. UGA’s 5th-ranked scoring defense (15.7 ppg)
UGA’s 17th-ranked scoring offense (36.3 ppg) vs. UA’s top-ranked scoring defense (11.1 ppg)

COMMON OPPONENTS
Auburn
Georgia lost 40-17 in Auburn Nov. 11 and won 28-7 in SEC championship game rematch, Alabama lost 26-14 in Auburn Nov. 25.

Mississippi State
Georgia won 31-3 in Athens Sept. 23, Alabama won 31-24 in Starkville Nov. 11.

Tennessee
Georgia won 41-0 in Knoxville Sept. 30, Alabama won 45-7 in Tuscaloosa Oct. 21.

Vanderbilt
Georgia won 45-14 in Nashville Oct. 7, Alabama won 59-0 in Nashville Sept. 23.

LOSSES
Georgia: 40-17 to No. 10 Auburn (10-4) in Auburn Nov. 11
Alabama: 26-14 to No. 6 Auburn (10-4) in Auburn Nov. 25

PORTFOLIO
Wins vs. bowl teams: Georgia 8, Alabama 6
Wins vs. current CFP Top 25 teams: UGA 4, UA 3
Wins in true road games: UGA 4, UA 3
Wins by 10-plus points: UGA 11, UA 10

THE BOVADA.LV LINE
Georgia, +5 (opened +4½)
Over/under, 45

THE PREDICTIONS
Zach Barnett
Maybe I’m just a fool, but I don’t believe anyone can beat Alabama at their own game until it actually happens. Yeah, the Tide has lost its share of games over the years — so rarely you can probably remember each individual one — but all those losses have come from the same formula, a formula Georgia can’t replicate. Georgia’s run game is good, but Bama’s run defense is better. Jake Fromm is an effective game manager, but Jalen Hurts has another dimension the Bulldog freshman doesn’t. When push comes to shove (and it will), I think it’s that extra dimension that will push Alabama over the top. Again.
Alabama 21, Georgia 14

Bryan Fisher
I go back and forth on this game every 30 minutes, that’s just how close the two SEC foes are when you look at where their programs and rosters are at this point in the season. Both sides are a little tired after two very different semifinal games and from the toll of traveling back on a short week.  That likely leads to a slower, more conservative approach on both sides of the ball to shorten the game up and that in itself might play a little bit more into Alabama’s hands. While Georgia might have better starting 22 talent overall if you go down the list, the quarterback run game is a difference maker for the Tide with Jalen Hurts behind center. It will be a close, hard-fought title game but ultimately Nick Saban‘s side has just enough to best the hometown team and hoist another trophy
Alabama 28, Georgia 23

Kevin McGuire
It is hard not to get carried away with what Georgia did running the football in the Rose Bowl, but the truth is Alabama is much better equipped to slow down Georgia’s running game the way Oklahoma could only dream. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb will have an impact, but 30, 40-, and 50-yard touchdowns are not going to happen against the Tide the way they did against the Sooners. On the same line of thinking, it’s hard not to go overboard with Alabama’s defense after dismantling Clemson the way they just did. Georgia’s offense operates differently though, and odds are we get a national title game that falls somewhere in between the semifinal performances for both. As much as Georgia is the best-equipped to give a Nick Saban assistant more than a puncher’s chance against Nick Saban (11-0 vs. former assistants, including 1-0 in College Football Playoff era), Alabama will be able to play their style of game and allow Jalen Hurts to make some plays to lead Alabama to yet another national title.
Alabama 27, Georgia 23

John Taylor
How can you bet against Nick Saban and Alabama? Since the Nicktator took over the Crimson Tide in 2007, they are 9-1 in games played in Atlanta, including nine straight wins since losing to Florida in the 2008 SEC championship game.  Saban is also 11-0 all-time against head coaches who were his former assistants.  Where’s tonight’s game being played?  In Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Who’s Georgia’s head coach?  Saban’s former defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart. Last year at this time I went against the CFT grain and picked Clemson over ‘Bama; despite that ominous-looking 20-1 mark staring me square in the face I’m doing the same this time around as UGA’s ground game will prove to be too much for even the suffocating UA front seven, with the underdog Bulldogs denying Saban his latest shot at tying the great Bear Bryant for most national championships — and their program’s first since 1980.
Georgia 24, Alabama 20

Arkansas early enrollee arrested on DUI charges

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Arkansas early enrollee Mike Woods was arrested Friday night on suspicion of DUI, minor in possession of alcohol and, crucially, improper turn/U-turn. The Washington County booking report says he was released on Saturday afternoon but due back for a hearing on Monday morning.

Hogs head coach Chad Morris released the following statement: “We are aware of the incident involving Mike Woods and are gathering information from the proper authorities. We will make a determination regarding his status once we have reviewed all of the information.”

A consensus 3-star recruit out of Magnolia, Texas, in the Houston area, Woods originally committed to SMU but followed Morris and wide receivers coach Justin Stepp to Arkansas.

Bill Snyder honored by Missouri Western with pavilion at football stadium

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Bill Snyder traveled to his hometown of St. Joseph, Mo., on Thursday, as Missouri Western State University christened a pavilion at its football stadium as the Bill Snyder Pavilion.

The pavilion was donated by Steven L. Craig, who already serves as the namesake for Division II Missouri Western’s football stadium and its business school. But for the new pavilion of Craig Field that holds two levels of hospitality space, Craig and the school elected to honor one of St. Joseph’s most famous residents and a former Missouri Western student. With the honor, Snyder became the rare (only?) person to have his name on two separate football stadiums; Kansas State plays in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

After graduating high school from St. Joseph’s Lafayette High School, Snyder originally enrolled at Mizzou, where he discovered the major university life was not for him. “I did extremely poorly,” Snyder told the Kansas City Star. “I was out of my element. My mother had saved all of her life to send me to college, and I was wasting her money.”

He returned home to enroll at Missouri Western, then known as Missouri Western Junior College, where he played on the basketball team. He then transferred to William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., where he played quarterback and defensive back before graduating in 1962. Outside a brief stint as a graduate assistant on John McKay‘s USC staff, Snyder spent the first decade of his coaching career at the high school ranks in Missouri and California. He landed a job in 1974 as the offensive coordinator at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and two seasons there led to a job on Hayden Fry‘s staff at North Texas in 1976. Snyder followed Fry to Iowa, and nine successful seasons as the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach granted him the Kansas State head job, where he has authored the greatest turnaround in major college football history.

Snyder, who will turn 79 the day after Kansas State visits Baylor on Oct. 6, is 210-110-1 as K-State’s head coach. He led the Wildcats to four straight 11-win seasons from 1997-00, a Big 12 championship in 2003 and, after a 3-year retirement, returned to lead the Wildcats to their first No. 1 ranking and a second Big 12 championship in 2012. Despite spending much of the off-season battling throat cancer, Snyder led Kansas State to an 8-5 record with a Cactus Bowl win over UCLA in 2017.

“St. Joseph will always have a special place in my heart,” Snyder said Thursday. “Missouri Western likewise.”

Snyder will open his 27th season as K-State’s head coach on Sept. 1 as the Wildcats host South Dakota.

 

Former Miami, Purdue QB Robert Marve arrested on domestic battery charges

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Former Miami and Purdue quarterback Robert Marve turned himself in to Hillsborough County, Fla., authorities on Friday morning after his girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in their Key West hotel room. He was booked on felony battery/domestic battery by strangulation charges and released an hour later on $50,000 bond.

According to the Tampa Bay Times:

(Marve’s girlfriend Channing) Tomes told the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office that Marve “lost control” after seeing messages on her phone. He then began hitting her face, chest, arms and legs, and stomped on her throat, according to the warrant.

“I am beyond relieved to know he is finally exposed as the monster he truly is,” Tomes said in a text message to the Tampa Bay Times. “I am so thankful for everyone who has worked tirelessly on this case, as well as other victims.”

Tomes also accused Marve of biting her on the lip, striking her face, knocking her unconscious and sexually assaulting her back in May.

“I do not care if I am the face of this case or if my sexual life, job or school is exposed in this process. My ultimate goal was to see that he never hurt another woman again and stand up for past victims who were too scared to come forward. Rape and domestic violence is never okay,” Tomes told the Times. “I have found that the only ‘safe word’ with Robert Marve is ‘911.’ ”

Marve led powerhouse Plant High School in Tampa to a Class 4A state championship in 2006 and signed with Miami in February 2007 as Rivals‘s No. 8 pro-style quarterback of that year. He later transferred to Purdue and needed six years to complete his college career, a season that was ended prematurely after a second ACL tear. He had a cup of coffee with his hometown Bucs and a brief career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL before retiring in 2015.

Marve currently lives in Tampa and works as the athletic director at the Tampa Sports Academy training facility, according to jail records, in addition to coaching Plant’s quarterbacks.

Michigan State to reportedly remove interim tag from AD Bill Beekman on Monday

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Michigan State is set to name interim AD Bill Beekman to the job on a permanent status on Monday, according to reports from the Detroit Free Press and ESPN.

The move brings a bit of stability to the university as the Larry Nassar saga continues to embroil the highest level of MSU leadership in controversy. Though its highest-profile employees, football coach Mark Dantonio and men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo, remain in their posts, AD Mark Hollis retired in late January as ESPN dug into the athletics department’s (lack of) response to sexual harassment within its ranks. MSU president Lou Anna Simon resigned two days before Hollis, but that may be the least of her problems stemming from the Nassar saga.

As for Beekman, he is a near-MSU lifer who has experience across university leadership but, prior to his appointment as interim AD five months ago, none in athletics. He was hired as an administrator with the MSU HealthTeam, per the Free Press, and has since risen to assistant dean of finance and planning for MSU’s school of medicine, executive director of the MSU alumni association, vice president and secretary of the MSU Board of Trustees, and he was even briefly named MSU’s interim president after Simon’s resignation.

He was appointed to the full-time AD position by interim president John Engler. Michigan State’s board are currently in search of a full-time president, but that person will not be in place until the end of the upcoming academic year.

Given all that ongoing upheaval, it will be interesting to see the contract Michigan State’s interim president hands to its now full-time AD with no prior athletics experience.