Editor’s note: Each week, the good folks at ESPN Stats and Information will help us take a look inside the numbers that matter prior to Georgia’s games. We’ll share some of their data here on the blog every Friday this fall.
NO. 3 GEORGIA VS. NO. 2 ALABAMA
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
1: Play-action passing: Both quarterbacks in this game are experts at passing after play-action fakes, but Alabama’s powerful running game has helped quarterback AJ McCarron throw downfield off play action with devastating effectiveness.
McCarron has completed 64.7 percent of his passes that covered 20 yards or more -- an increase of more than 25 percentage points from last season. The percentage goes up even more after faking a handoff to a running back. McCarron has completed 73.3 percent of his passes of 20 yards or more after a play-action fake and has used such situations to throw seven touchdowns.
2. Balanced Bulldogs: Only six offenses accounted for more explosive plays -- ones that gained at least 20 yards -- than Georgia’s 75 this season, but an even more impressive aspect of the Bulldogs’ big-play offense is its balance.
Only Georgia and Texas A&M have at least 50 completions of 20-plus and at least 25 rushes that covered that distance.
The Bulldogs also have a habit of making good use of first down to keep the chains moving or find the end zone. Georgia’s average of 7.9 yards per play on first down ranks second nationally, and it averaged at least five yards on first down in every game except its lone loss of the season against South Carolina.
3: Tide running wild: Want a sign that a team has a dominant running game? When Alabama wants to run, it has been awfully hard to stop.
The Crimson Tide is averaging 6.0 yards per carry on designed runs -- an average that leads the SEC. And backs such as Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon typically encounter very little resistance as they begin moving downhill. Alabama averages an SEC-best 4.2 yards before the back makes first contact with a defender.