ATLANTA — They come from bordering states and recruit the same players. They devise schemes with matching strengths and weaknesses. One coach used to work for the other coach. Tonight in Atlanta, Georgia and Alabama meet in college football’s national championship game for the first time.
Stay here for live updates and analysis from Atlanta.
How to watch: Kickoff is at 8:17 p.m. Eastern. ESPN has the broadcast, but you can stream the game here.
Here are the top story lines for the national championship game.
■ Who is better? Alabama and Georgia have only played 13 and 14 games, respectively, so we don’t truly know which team is actually better. In the national semifinals, Georgia needed double-overtime to beat Oklahoma, while Alabama controlled Clemson in a 24-6 win. The Sagarin Ratings call Alabama the best team in the country and Georgia the third-best. Betting odds have generally pegged Alabama a 4-point favorite. Sounds about right.
■ Trump attending: President Trump is still scheduled to attend the game. The White House had declined ESPN’s request to interview him, ESPN’s Stephanie Druley said Sunday. “We will obviously show him at the game, when we see where he’s sitting and everything else, but we’re waiting for the White House.”
Outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the uncharacteristic cold front merged with rain, crowds were larger than might be expected waiting to get in, as police along with Secret Service searched bags and attendees had to go through metal detectors.
■ Running the ball: Alabama and Georgia are relatively conservative by college football standards. On offense, the priority is to establish the run; on defense, the priority is to stop the run. Both teams ranked in the top ten of the Football Bowl Subdivision in rush yards per game, while Georgia was 20th to Alabama’s No. 1 on defense. Both teams have talented running back tandems: Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough for Alabama; Nick Chubb and Sony Michel for Georgia. But if you want to look at a variable, Alabama’s starting right guard, junior Lester Cotton Sr., is out with a leg injury sustained in the semifinal win over Clemson. Maybe Alabama can try running to the left?