I've given you the breakdown of the passing game. I've given you the breakdown of the running game. Now it's time to close out my look at the statistics and tell you what I think will happen as I wrap up this week's heaping helping not of a dash of data, not of a smattering of stats, but of . . . Too Much Information:
Odds and Ends
- On average, Alabama scores 39.0 points per game and allows 18.0 points per game. Georgia, on the other hand, tallies 30.7 ticks on the scoreboard per outing while surrendering 15.3 points per contest. If, however, we take each team's blowout win over Western Carolina out of the equation, we find that, against Division I-A competition, the Crimson Tide gives up 24.0 points per game and the Bulldogs put up 23.5 points per game.
- Georgia ranks 10th in the league in third-down conversions (35.6%). Fortunately, Alabama ranks ninth in the S.E.C. in third-down conversions allowed (39.2%).
- If, as seems likely, it comes down to a battle for field position, the Bulldogs' chances are improved by the fact that Georgia leads the league in punting with a 38.5-yard net punting average. Yes, the 'Dawgs average only a seventh-place 40.4 net yards per kickoff, but, even with two touchbacks to their credit, the Red Elephants are averaging only 40.9 yards per kickoff. Georgia's kickoff return average (24.3 yards) is slightly ahead of Alabama's (23.4 yards), unless you happen to be dyslexic, in which case there's a good chance they're exactly the same.
- 'Bama has been dominant in the first quarter, outpointing the opposition by a 45-3 margin, but the Red Elephants have been much more mortal in the second and fourth periods, holding advantages of 16-13 and 32-31, respectively. The 'Dawgs, by contrast, are tied in the opening stanza (17-17) but hold a 75-29 advantage in the final three quarters.
- On average, Georgia holds the ball for 31 minutes of play. On average, Alabama holds the ball for 30 minutes and 30 seconds of play. I'm guessing time of possession will be pretty evenly divided.
- The four fumbles recovered by Alabama lead the league. While Georgia has the conference's fewest takeaways (1), the Red and Black also boast the S.E.C.'s fewest giveaways (2).
- If the Bulldogs face fourth and short in Alabama territory, I think they should go for it. So far this young season, Georgia has converted three of six fourth-down tries and 'Bama has conceded two of four fourth-down conversions attempted against the Crimson Tide. If the 'Dawgs have a 50/50 shot at it, they should roll the dice. The Classic City Canines, on the other hand, have yet to give up a fourth-down conversion this autumn.
- The Red and Black rank second in the S.E.C. in total defense, allowing just 260.3 yards per game. Although Alabama gives up almost 310 yards per outing, the 4.4 yards per snap conceded by the Crimson Tide are only marginally worse than the 4.2 yards per play permitted by the Bulldogs.
- Alabama has scored 16 second-quarter points. Georgia has allowed 16 second-quarter points.
- The 'Dawgs are the only team in the Southeastern Conference to have surrendered more than 56 yards on sacks. On the other hand, the Red and Black have sacked opposing quarterbacks eight times for 49 yards, giving the Georgia D the league's second-best numbers in that category. 'Bama ranks 10th in the S.E.C. with four sacks.
- L.S.U. leads the league in preventing opposing offenses from picking up the requisite yardage on third down, allowing only a 21.4 per cent conversion rate. Georgia trails the Bayou Bengals only narrowly, conceding the necessary yards just 21.6 per cent of the time.
- Both teams are relatively balanced, as far as scoring by halves is concerned. The Bulldogs have put up 48 first-half points and 44 second-half points, as compared to the Crimson Tide's 61 and 56, respectively.
As MaconDawg alluded to already, the defensive contrast between the two teams by halves is quite stark. Georgia has surrendered 33 first-half points before clamping down after intermission; the 'Dawgs have conceded just 13 points all year in the second half. In fact, in their last six outings, the Red and Black have permitted just 33 second-half points, for an average of 5.5 points per game allowed after the break.
Alabama tends to be more dominant in the early going, having surrendered just 16 points in the opening two stanzas. After halftime, though, the Crimson Tide has given up 38 points in the final two quarters.
The Bottom Line
Remember how we all felt after the victory over Oklahoma State? It felt like a big win at the time, even though it turns out that the Cowboys were overrated. That convincing victory over what appeared to be a quality opponent caused the 'Dawgs to believe they were better than they were, which came back to bite them the following Saturday against South Carolina.
A similar sentiment now prevails among the 'Bama faithful, perhaps to an extent adequate to invoke the Sports Illustrated jinx. The Crimson Tide came back to claim a last-second victory over a Razorback squad that ranks ninth in the S.E.C. in turnover margin per game, 10th in total defense, 11th in scoring defense, 11th in pass offense, 11th in pass defense, 11th in sacks, 11th in penalties, 12th in punt returns, and 12th in first downs.
Could it be that the Arkansas win now looks bigger than it really was? If so, might 'Bama be poised for the same sort of letdown experienced by the Bulldogs against the Gamecocks? I expect the Crimson Tide to be distracted by a bit of lingering euphoria, while the Red and Black will be focused by the prospect of playing a higher-ranked conference opponent on the road at night after starting out 0-1 in league play.
My Prediction: Georgia 24, Alabama 23.