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Justin Fields has already played against Alabama once in his career. Granted, it was with very limited snaps as a true freshman backup quarterback at Georgia.
It was the second time in 2018 that the Dawgs played the Crimson Tide, and Nick Saban’s squad was able to win both of them. The second came in the 2018 SEC Championship Game, which is where Fields was able to get his teeth cut against the powerhouse program.
He wasn’t able to do much with the limited opportunities given, but that wasn’t Field’s fault. His usage was questionable at best, and that was particularly evident on fourth-down play-call with only 3:11 left in the fourth quarter.
With the game tied up at 28-28, Georgia called a fake punt on a fourth-and-11. Alabama saw the direct snap to Fields coming, and tackled him on a two-yard gain to take back control of the ball at the midfield mark.
Jalen Hurts then led the Tide offense on a five-play, 52-yard game-winning drive for a 35-28 final score. It was the second game in that calendar year that Alabama had overcome a double-digit deficit to steal a win.
Georgia’s starter Jake Fromm played well, especially in the first half. Over 300 yards passing, three touchdowns and zero turnovers. There are many who argue that Fields should’ve been the starter that season, but this isn’t a game you can point to as evidence.
With that being said, Fields and Georgia fans alike have a legitimate gripe for how he was used. Not just in that game, but for the entire season. It was predictable runs with limited changeup, and it ended up costing him — and the team’s offense — production.
Now Fields is with a new team, and you can rest assured knowing he is being utilized correctly.
Ohio State’s star quarterback led his team to a 49-28 victory over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl on Friday night. That means the Buckeyes will now play the Crimson Tide for a national championship on Jan. 11.
Fields was fantastic against the Tigers, too. Despite suffering a first half rib injury, he totaled 427 yards (385 passing, 42 rushing) and six touchdowns with only one interception. He only three six incompletions, which matched his touchdown total.
He didn’t have the Heisman caliber season many had hoped, but he’s still one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country. After putting that on display against Clemson, he’s now ready to move on to an 12-0 Alabama squad.
This game will be a shot at redemption, too.
His last play against the Tide came on a failed fourth-down attempt, but the future first-rounder isn’t done yet. He’ll continue to get those opportunities with his legs. But his 5,179 yards and 62 touchdowns through the air also points to more opportunities as a passer.
An intriguing aspect of this game will be how Georgia fans view the matchup.
It might be a tough pill to swallow seeing Fields win a championship, especially if it comes against the squad that knocked your team out of two chances at its first national title since 1980. That was supposed to be their quarterback, leading their team to that potential victory.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.