Alabama won the SEC Western Division title Saturday with a 49-0 rout of Auburn. The Crimson Tide will head to Atlanta Saturday to take on Georgia for the SEC Championship, and almost certainly with a win earning a spot in the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame.
Kickoff in the Georgia Dome Saturday will be at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time) with television coverage by CBS. Both Bama and Georgia finished regular season play at 11-1 and SEC play at 7-1.
Coach Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs are making their second consecutive appearance in the SEC Championship Game. Last year Georgia fell to LSU and the Fighting Tigers went on to face Bama in the BCS National Championship Game.
Although Richt was not asked specifically about last year’s SEC Championship Game failure, he was asked if preparation would be the same this year. It will be, of course, because it comes at the end of a normal week in which players are in school and in which practice is limited to roughly 17 hours. So not only will it be the same as last year, it will be the same as any normal week during the season.
Richt was asked about two losses – a 2008 loss to Alabama when the Bulldogs had been ranked number one in preseason and the lone Georgia loss this year, 35-7 to South Carolina.
Richt said he didn’t think the 2008 loss, when Alabama roared to a big halftime lead during Georgia’s “blackout” – the team wearing black jerseys and fans asked to wear black. He said “It was one game, but it didn’t affect anything else.” Bama was a 41-20 winner in a game that was not as close as the final score.
Richt said the loss to South Carolina this year was “just one game. We also knew that everybody was responsible for that. It was one of those days where we all didn’t do a good job, including the coaches. We lost together, so we had to regroup together.”
The focus of the game is likely to be on quarterbacks, Aaron Murray for Georgia and A.J. McCarron for Alabama. “I think they are number one and number two in the country in pass efficiency,” Richt said. “They’ve both had great seasons.” He called them “tremendous leaders.”
But, he said, “No quarterback ever has success without the help of his teammates.” He also said it was important that a quarterback make good decisions along with having athletic ability.
And he noted other similarities in the teams – tandem tailbacks, injury problems at wide receiver, both running a pro-style offense and 3-4 defense.
But Richt also pointed out some differences in Alabama and Georgia over the past four years, when this year’s seniors began their careers. “One thing they’ve done is they’ve been national champions, and we’ve not,” Richt said. “They’ve been SEC champions, and we’ve not. That’s the biggest difference I see right now.”
While Alabama is coming off a 49-0 rout of Auburn, Georgia is also coming off a win in its regular season rivalry finale, a 42-10 romp past Georgia Tech. Georgia’s final two games (the Bulldogs defeated Georgia Southern 45-14 the previous week) came against triple option teams. But Richt sees a possible advantage in that as his team prepares for Alabama’s pro-set offense.
“The one thing about playing that (triple option) offense, it is a face-the-issue kind of offense,” Richt said. “You must take on a blocker every single play. You had to be extemely disciplined in what you were doing.
“It was a different scheme, but the habit of having to face the issue every play, having to deal with the blocker down after down after down, shed that blocker to try to go make a play, go pursue, things like that, I think, in some ways it sharpens you a little bit.”