Alabama quarterback Mac Jones leads the nation in passing efficiency. His 220.3 is 10 points higher than second-place Matt Corral of Ole Miss. [KENT GIDLEY/ALABAMA ATHLETICS]

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tuscaloosa

TV/radio: CBS/FM-93.9, AM-920

The line: Alabama by 6½

Records: Alabama (3-0), Georgia (3-0)

The series: Alabama leads 40-25-4


Four-down territory

1. Read the signs: Much was made of the Alabama defensive performance last week. And not in a good way. Alabama gave up the most yards in school history (647), prompting head coach Nick Saban to say after the Tide’s 63-48 win, “I don’t know if they had our signals or what. That’s not anything unusual. But it seemed like every time we called something they had the best play they could have against it.” Saban clarified his statement Monday: “What I was really speaking to was, we were always one play behind. As if they knew what we were going to do. Some of that is our issue in terms of how we disguise things.”

2. Keep away: Jaylen Waddle was the nation’s leading punt returner last season (20 returns for a 24.4-yard average). Through three games Waddle has returned just one punt for 11 yards. There haven’t been many opportunities for Waddle with three fair catches, one touchback and one return on seven punts.

3. Looks familiar: Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has 689 yards on 53-of-84 passing with five touchdowns and no interceptions through three games. Alabama fans know all too well about QBs that don’t put up big numbers but still win games. Past Tide QBs Jake Coker, AJ McCarron and Greg McElroy (who all won national titles) wore the "game manager" label, and that’s what the Bulldogs have in Bennett.

4. Riding high: Alabama has five 100-yard receiving performances, three from Waddle and one from DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III. It’s almost a trend for Tide wideouts. Alabama failed to have a 100-yard receiver in just three games last season, including 99-yard efforts from Henry Ruggs III and Smith.


Key matchup

Kirby Smart vs. Nick Saban

The two defensive-minded coaches spent several years together on the sidelines, with Smart serving as Saban’s assistant at LSU for a year, Miami in the NFL for a year and as the defensive coordinator at Alabama for seven years. They know each other’s tendencies well, which should come into play Saturday. After all, look what happened last week when Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin, another former Saban coordinator, went up against his former boss.


Player of the week

Mac Jones, QB

The last two times these two teams faced off the quarterback was the difference maker. There was Tua Tagovailoa’s second-and-26 touchdown toss in overtime of the 2017 national title game. Then you had Jalen Hurts’ passing and running scores to win the SEC title game the following season. It makes sense Jones will make big plays for the Tide on Saturday.


By the numbers

10: With his five-touchdown performance last week, running back Najee Harris has 10 for the season. He’s scored at least two touchdowns in every game this season. The school record for most rushing TDs in a season is 28 by Derrick Henry in 2015.

48: ESPN’s pregame show College GameDay is in Tuscaloosa for the 48th time and 39th with Saban as the Crimson Tide coach. Alabama holds a 30-17 record when GameDay comes to town.

64: In its last two meetings with Georgia, the Crimson Tide led for just 64 seconds, but won both times. Alabama won the 2017 national title on the game’s final play in overtime, and the Tide scored the clinching touchdown with 1:04 left to play in the 2018 SEC title game.



Alabama 35, Georgia 21

Hell hath no fury like an Alabama defense scorned. This is not one of Alabama’s most memorable defenses of the Saban era. It might be one of the worst. However, the one constant among any Saban-era defense is the ability to bounce back from a bad performance, which last week against Ole Miss surely was. Georgia will make big plays, but it won’t run all over Alabama like the Rebels did.

— Edwin Stanton

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