(RNN) – It's called the game within the game – a reason to keep your eyes glued to the TV even when there aren't tense moments, and the win isn't on the line.
That unspoken battle becomes more important in any championship situation, especially in the SEC with a BCS title spot at stake.
It usually boils down to an individual player's matchup with someone on the other side of the ball. The result determines which team's players are cheering and which ones are leaving the field with towels covering their bowed heads.
When Alabama and Georgia trade helmet paint on Saturday, there are a lot of players to keep tabs on.
Shawn Williams, strong safety – Jarvis Jones and Baccari Rambo get their names called the most, but Williams is the team's second-leading tackler and could have a make-or-break play land right in his lap.
AJ McCarron has a surprising amount of trouble following safety movement after the snap, and not even Alabama can make a living running the plays toward Jones and Rambo on the other side of the field. Williams will get a healthy amount of opportunities funneled his way so he had better keep his wits about him.
Jarvis Jones, outside linebacker – His adrenaline kicks to another level when playing SEC teams, which is scary considering he's pretty much always dominant. During league games, Jones leads the SEC in sacks, forced fumbles and tackles for loss. His presence is part of the reason inside linebacker Alec Ogletree leads the team in tackles in only eight games played.
Aaron Murray, quarterback – If Murray was even a little bit mobile or if UGA running backs caught more passes out of the backfield, they could shred Alabama. We don't say that just because Johnny Manziel did it.
LSU (yes the LSU that lost three weeks ago) actually showed everyone else how to take Alabama's strong side linebacker and nickelback out of the play. If Murray plays like the quarterback we know he is, he will hurt Alabama.
Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall, running back – Gurley has separated himself enough as the No. 1 starter that people don't refer to them interchangeably anymore, but Marshall is still capable of doing damage. If Gurley goes for 100 yards, Georgia's chances of winning increase exponentially.
Even if he isn't stellar, giving him the ball 20 to 25 times would soften Alabama up enough to make life easier for Murray.
Eddie Lacy, running back – Georgia's front seven hasn't done them any favors in the run defense department. Lacy is gaining steam week-by-week, and he's lining up across from a unit that doesn't have the consistency to match its playmaking ability. It'll be a long day for anyone not named Jarvis Jones.
Oh, and by the way... There is this other guy in the backfield named T.J. Yeldon who doesn't look, run or make decisions like a freshman. We're pretty sure you haven't forgotten about him, but we just wanted to make sure.
Adrian Hubbard, outside linebacker – He's not a tackling machine, but a quarter of his stops are behind the line of scrimmage. We can talk all we want about strong man Jesse Williams and C.J. Mosely, but Hubbard is going to get up close and personal several times with Georgia's running backs.
Amari Cooper, wide receiver – We were denied the chance to see what he could do against LSU, the only team with a realistic shot at containing him. But Cooper vs. Sanders Commings (and a few likely double teams involving Rambo) is a battle that's worth the price of admission.
Cyrus Kouandijo, offensive tackle – Congratulations, big man. You get the undesirable task of keeping Jones, the best blitzing linebacker in college football, away from your quarterback. Wish you all the best with that.
If there's anyone who is up to the task, it's the 6'6", 311-pound mountain on the left side of one of the best O-lines in the nation.
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