It's only fitting that Atlanta, home to the SEC title game, is hosting the all-SEC College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T.
No. 4 Alabama didn't play for the SEC title this year because it didn't win the SEC West, but the Tide will have a chance to finish the season as the best team in the conference and the country when they face SEC champion and No. 3 seed Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Georgia, which will be playing roughly 70 miles from its campus in Athens, will be the first team to play a national championship game in its home state since LSU played in New Orleans in 2012, when it lost to Alabama. That was also the last time two teams from the same conference played for the national title.
While this game will feature an abundance of talent at every position, the playmakers on both defenses are particularly elite. Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith won the Dick Butkus Award this season as the nation's best linebacker, and Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick won the Chuck Bednarik (defensive player of the year) and Jim Thorpe (best defensive back) awards. Alabama entered the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Clemson allowing an FBS-low 11.5 points per game and held the Tigers to just two field goals. That stingy group will be tested against a Georgia offense that racked up 527 yards in a 54-48, double-overtime win over No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual. Georgia's defense, meanwhile, entered the Rose Bowl ranked third nationally in scoring defense (13.2 points per game), holding opposing offenses to 158.3 passing yards per game, second in FBS. It did, however, allow OU a whopping 531 total yards.
Alabama and Georgia didn't play each other during the regular season, and they haven't met since 2015, when then-No. 13 Alabama beat then-No. 8 Georgia 38-10. The last time these teams played in Atlanta was the 2012 SEC title game, in which Georgia lost 32-28 after falling short on its final drive. It has been a while, but these teams -- and their head coaches -- are quite familiar with each other.
Here's a quick first look at the title-game matchup:
Key offensive player for Georgia: QB Jake Fromm
Many wondered if the true freshman would be able to handle the pressure of the CFP semifinal stage, especially considering that he was going against veteran quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield, but Fromm didn't flinch. Against Oklahoma, Fromm completed 20 of 29 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. If Georgia wins the national championship, Fromm will tie Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts' record for the most wins by a freshman quarterback in a season (13).
Key defensive player for Georgia: Smith
He entered the Rose Bowl with a team-best 113 tackles this season and had a team-high 10 against Oklahoma. He was named the defensive player of the game.
Key offensive player for Alabama: Hurts
He isn't flashy, and he doesn't get a lot of Heisman hype (if any), but he has now led his team to a national title appearance for the second straight season. Hurts threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions against Clemson, and he also has the ability to run the ball.
Key defensive player for Alabama: Fitzpatrick
He's in second place on the Alabama career interception return yards list and is the kind of veteran player who can take advantage of any of Fromm's freshman mistakes.
Storyline to watch: Nick Saban vs. Kirby Smart
It's the professor against his prized pupil, and their history together will headline the chatter surrounding this game. From 2004 to 2015, Smart spent every season but one as a member of Saban's coaching staff. Saban has been Smart's mentor, as the 42-year-old worked for Saban at LSU, the Miami Dolphins and Alabama, where he was eventually promoted to defensive coordinator. He is in only his second season at Georgia, but in his nine seasons with Alabama, Smart helped the Tide win four national titles. To say Smart learned a thing or two is an understatement. The question is whether he learned enough to outsmart the man who taught him much of what he knows. Alabama has won each of its 11 games against teams coached by Saban's former assistants -- by an average of more than 28 points.
Key matchup: Alabama's rushing defense vs. Georgia's ground game
The Tide's defense looked much stronger and healthier against Clemson than it did toward the end of the regular season, when it was ravaged by injuries, particularly at the linebacker position. Georgia finished with five rushing touchdowns against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, and Sony Michel and Nick Chubb combined for 326 yards -- the most by a duo in a single game. Michel finished with an eye-popping 16.5 yards per carry (181 on 11 carries).
X factor: Turnovers
With such opportunistic defenses on both teams, neither offense can afford to give the ball away. Clemson gave up two interceptions against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, including one that was returned for a touchdown. The Alabama defense has forced at least one turnover in 41 of its past 43 games, dating to the start of the 2015 season.