Minus Saban, No. 2 Alabama set to meet No. 3 Georgia

No. 3 Georgia (3-0, 3-0 SEC) at No. 2 Alabama (3-0, 3-0), Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (CBS).

Line: Alabama by 4.

Series Record: Alabama leads 40-25-4.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

From a national standpoint, this is undoubtedly the biggest SEC game of the year and it garners even more attention because college football’s most famous coach has COVID-19. Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive on Wednesday, leaving the Crimson Tide with another challenge and potential distraction. It’s the season’s first Top-5 matchup. Just three weeks in, Georgia and Alabama are the league’s only remaining unbeaten teams. The loser could easily come back and win their division, setting up an SEC championship game rematch. The winner could at least pull closer to No. 1 Clemson.

KEY MATCHUP

The SEC’s best offense against the top defense. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and an array of playmakers led by tailback Najee Harris and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle face their biggest challenge yet. So does a Georgia defense that is among the nation’s best and is led by safety Richard LeCounte and linebackers Monty Rice and Azeez Ojulari, who has three sacks and six tackles for loss.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Georgia: LeCounte leads a secondary that must contend with a prolific Tide passing attack that includes playmaking receivers in Waddle, John Metchie III and DeVonta Smith. All three have taken their star turns with big games. LeCounte has seven career interceptions.

Alabama: Waddle is a huge threat not only on offense, but as a return man. He is averaging 21.2 yards on 13 catches with three touchdowns. He has also been one of the nation’s top punt returners the past two seasons, but has only gotten one chance this season with teams mostly punting away from him. This seems like the kind of game that could turn on a big special teams play one way or the other.

FACTS & FIGURES

Alabama has won the last five meetings, including two SEC championship game victories and one in the national title game. … It’s the Bulldogs’ first visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium since 2007. … The Tide has won 27 consecutive meetings against teams from the SEC East, dating to a 35-21 loss at then-No. 19 South Carolina on Oct. 9, 2010. … The Bulldogs are 9-4 against Top 10 teams under coach Kirby Smart. … ESPN GameDay will broadcast from Tuscaloosa, the nation-leading 48th appearance for the Tide.

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