Kickoff: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (CBS) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta
Spread: Alabama by 7
Watchability: No hype needed. The winner gets Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game, with a chance to extend to seven the SEC's national title streak. Alabama makes its eighth appearance in the SEC Championship Game (3-4), most by an SEC West team, while Georgia makes its fifth (2-2). The Tide rank first nationally in points allowed (9.3), but the Bulldogs have been just as good lately, allowing 8.6 points over their last five games. Bursting with confidence, two Georgia defenders proclaimed this week that they have the better defense.
Shining stars: Alabama – QB AJ McCarron. The junior has the third-highest completion percentage (67.2 percent) in the conference and threw the least INTs (2) of any full-time starter. Simply put, he makes good decisions with the ball. Alabama will need that trend to continue against a Georgia team that's plus-9 in turnover margin. Georgia – QB Aaron Murray. By opting not to talk to the media this week, Murray avoided answering questions about his struggles against elite defenses. But there's no discounting this: Murray leads the nation in passing efficiency (177.2) and has thrown 14 TDs against zero INTs since halftime of the Florida game.
Who could steal the show: Alabama – RBs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. It's rare to have two players in the top 12 rushers in the league. Lacy, a junior, checks in eighth in the SEC with 1,001 yards to go along with 14 TDs. Yeldon, a freshman, is 12th with 847 yards and 10 TDs. Georgia – LB Alec Ogletree. The 6-3, 232-pounder might be the most violent hitter on the field. He made a career-high 15 tackles last week and leads Georgia with 87 stops despite missing the first four games.
Magic number for Alabama: 4. That's how many major defensive categories Alabama leads the SEC in -- total defense, scoring defense, run defense and pass defense.
Magic number for Georgia: 14. That's how many TDs that RB Todd Gurley has run for this season, one shy of the school freshman record set by Herschel Walker in 1980.
3 keys to an Alabama win
- Rattle Georgia's Murray: Even with its talented secondary, Alabama can't afford to let Murray sit in the pocket with time to throw. It must come after him and get him out of rhythm. Coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart are masters at finding ways to get pressure. Expect them to dial up exotic blitzes to keep Murray from settling in.
- Win at the line of scrimmage: A slew of future NFL players will battle in the trenches Saturday. Alabama's entire OL could play on Sundays. Georgia NT John Jenkins and pass-rushing LB Jarvis Jones will be high draft picks as well. The matchup between Jenkins and Alabama C Barrett Jones is one to watch especially. If Jones, with help from Gs Chance Warmack and Anthony Steen, can move Jenkins, Alabama should be able to run the ball.
- Win the red-zone battle: Alabama has done this all season. It comes into Saturday as the leader in both red-zone offense and defense. It has scored on 90.6 percent of its trips into the red zone, with 73.5 percent of those chances yielding a touchdown. Defensively, opponents have scored on 60.9 percent of their attempts and only 47.8 percent of their tries have led to a touchdown. Georgia will be in trouble if those trends continue.
3 keys to a Georgia win
- Mitchell's the man: Malcolm Mitchell sparked Georgia last week with a 47-yard kickoff return and led the Bulldogs with three catches for 88 yards. With WRs Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett out with injuries, Mitchell and WR Tavarres King (20.7 yards per catch) must make big plays. They need to avoid the drops that plagued Georgia in last year's SEC title game.
- Stay patient: To keep the pressure off Murray, the Bulldogs should keep feeding freshman RBs Gurley (6.5 yards per carry) and Keith Marshall (6.7 ypc) even if it doesn't pay immediate dividends. Either back is capable of breaking a long run at any time.
- Back up the talk: Georgia's defense has as much NFL talent as Alabama's. S Bacarri Rambo (16 career INTs) and CB Sanders Commings said this week Georgia has the better defense. It's up to them, along with playmakers like Jarvis Jones (24 career sacks) and Ogletree, to prove it Saturday.
Prediction: Alabama 27, Georgia 24
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Daniel Lewis and Larry Hartstein, follow @CBSSportsSEC.