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CFP National Championship: Georgia favored in rematch with No. 1 Alabama

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CFP National Championship: Georgia favored in rematch with No. 1 Alabama
Georgia will be tasked with limiting Alabama quarterback Bryce Young in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday in Indianapolis. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs are a slight favorite to beat No. 1 Alabama in the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, which kicks off at 8 p.m. EST Monday in Indianapolis.

The game is a rematch of the SEC title game, which the Crimson Tide won 41-24 on Dec. 4 in Atlanta. Lucas Oil Stadium is expected to be filled to its 70,000-fan capacity. Ticket prices ranged from $370 to more than $70,000 on Monday morning on the secondary market.

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The game will air on ESPN.

"It's going to be a new game, and we have to earn the outcome that we want," Alabama quarterback Bryce Young told reporters Saturday. "So it's really just been knowing that whatever's happened in the past doesn't entitle you to anything at all.

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"You learn from it, but we have to understand we're playing a completely different game. We have to understand that we have to earn that for 60 minutes."

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Georgia will be tasked with corralling the Heisman Trophy winning Alabama quarterback, who threw for 421 yards, passed for three touchdowns and ran for another score in their December matchup.

"We talk about him as Houdini, because he can people miss," Georgia coach Kirby Smart told reporters Sunday. "He gets rid of the ball.

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"People don't even account the number of times this guy has avoided sacks and thrown the ball with no intention of anybody catching it. But he knows where to throw the ball to not take a sack. When you can do that you're really elite."

The Crimson Tide again boast one of the most-balanced teams in the country, with an offense and defense that each rank inside the Top 10 nationally in yards per game and yards allowed.

But the Bulldogs also own one of the nation's top defenses. They've allowed the second-fewest yards per game and the fewest offense scores in college football (11).

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"We've gotten to see them once already and know how good they are," Smart said. "They really do not have weaknesses across the board."

Alabama dismantled Cincinnati 27-6 in the semifinal round. Georgia topped Michigan 34-11 in its semifinal. Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett torched the No. 2 Wolverines through the air, with 310 yards and three scores in the Orange Bowl.

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Crimson Tide running back Brian Robinson ran for 204 yards against the No. 4 Bearcats in the Cotton Bowl. Young also threw three touchdown passes in the Alabama victory.

Defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean are among Georgia's top draft prospects. Bennett, running backs Zamir White and James Cook, wide receiver George Pickens and tight end Brock Bowers lead the offense.

Offensive lineman Evan Neal and wide receiver Jameson Williams are among the Alabama players expected to go early in the 2022 NFL Draft.

"They've been one of the most consistent, well-coached teams all year long," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "And it's certainly going to be a great challenge for us to have the opportunity to play them."

The College Football Playoff National Championship Game features a matchup between coaches with deep ties.

Saban, 70, can become the oldest coach in history to win a national title if the Tide edge the Bulldogs. Smart, 46, is 0-4 against Saban.

Smart spent time on Saban's staff in 2004 at LSU. He followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins in 2006 and to Alabama in 2007 as a defensive backs coach. Smart was Alabama's defensive coordinator from 2008 through 2015. He was hired at Georgia in 2016.

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Smart is looking for his first national title. He led the Bulldogs to the same stage in 2017. Georgia led Alabama by 13 points in the second half of that matchup. The Tide scored 13 unanswered points to force overtime and later won on a walk-off, 41-yard touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith.

Saban added a sixth national title to his collection when the Tide beat Ohio State in the 2021 title game.

That title gave Saban the most ever for a college football coach. On Monday, he'll attempt to win two-consecutive titles for the second time in his career. He led the Tide to back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

College Football Playoff National Championship Game

Who: No. 3 Georgia (13-1) vs. No. 1 Alabama (13-1)

When: 8 p.m. EST Monday

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

TV: ESPN

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