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SEC Championship: Can Georgia Defeat Alabama?




All the things that sport has lost a lot during the pandemic boom will be fully displayed when the two best teams of the best conference in the country meet in what has become the capital of sport during the last decade or so.

It’s Georgia and the third-ranked Alabama facing the SEC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and there’s not much better than that!

Alabama has been the dominant force in college football for the past twelve years. The Crimson Tide has won six national championships and seven SEC titles under legendary coach Nick Saban.

A whopping 106 of his players have been selected in the NFL this season, 38 of them in the first round. Six of those first-round picks came from last year’s team, which went 13-0 on its way to another national title.

Losing all that talent in the NFL could cause some teams to rebuild, but not Saban and Crimson Tide. They just recharge.

Nick Saban has won six national titles in Alabama since taking the helm in 2007.

Alabama was the nation’s top-ranked team and the national title favorite again when it started in 2021, with a new quarterback in the center to Bryce Young and a new offensive coordinator to Bill O’Brien.

After a 2-0 start, they got everything they could ask for in their first real game as a road to Florida. The Gators bounced back from an 18-point lead and had a chance to tie the game with three minutes to go, but failed on a two-point conversion. “Bama held on for a 31-29 victory.

Tide were 5-0 when they went to Texas A&M, and that’s when their unbeaten streak crashed: Seth Small’s last-second field goal gave the Aggies a shocking 41-38 victory.

Crimson Tide fans were dismayed when it was apparent no substitutes remained after A&M fans. But you can never underestimate the heart of a champion and that’s what Alabama showed the rest of the way.

They won five straight games, including a couple of close wins over LSU and Arkansas, to secure another playoff spot for the SEC title. But they would not have survived the national title hunt without a comeback over the centuries against state rivals Auburn.

After fighting throughout the game, Bryce Young led Tide with a 97-yard touchdown in the final minute and 43 seconds to tie the game at 10.

Young was not going to be denied in overtime. His two-point conversion break broke the deadlock in the fourth overtime, giving Bama a victory that seemed unlikely in the first 58 minutes of the match.

Bryce Young sparked a Heisman conversation after leading the Crimson Tide to a bloody victory over Auburn.

Young’s performance made many consider him one of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy and helped his team weather another storm.

“Throughout the season, I think sometimes, when things have gone wrong, the players have responded very well,” Saban told reporters after the Crimson Tide victory over Auburn. “It’s great to have the resilience to overcome it, but you wish you could keep it consistent, so you don’t get into those situations.”

They will have to find that consistency as they face the toughest challenge of the year against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Are the days over?

After winning a fourth national title in seven years as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart decided to leave his mentor and friend Nick Saban and take over as head coach to rival the Georgia conference in early 2016. The Bulldogs had been a good team (19 times in a row). appearances) but now they wanted to be big.

Georgia’s last national title was in 1980 and they have only won the SEC twice since 1982, but they believed that Smart was the man who could take them to the Promised Land.

Kirby brought his mentor’s success plan with him to Athens: a powerful defense, a solid career game and an effective pass attack, and he paid dividends right away.

Georgia's head coach Kirby Smart has brought his mentor's approach to Athens with great success, but he still lacks a national title.

Georgia reached the national title game, but fell in the second season of Smart. And that defeat to end the 2017 season was painful, as it was against – you guessed it – Alabama.

The game was in Atlanta and the Bulldogs led 13-0 at the break. ‘Bama QB star Jalen Hurts was struggling, so Saban decided to headline Tua Tagovaiola in the second half.

Tua led an epic comeback, finishing with a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith, giving Tide a 26-23 victory in overtime. It was his fifth national title under Saban and the first without his top aide, who had to find a way to overcome the needle of that defeat and move forward.

Georgia played some major bowling games for the next three years, but none of them were in the college football playoffs and the fans were starting to get a little restless.

But 2021 has been a different story. The Dawgs have set a perfect 12-0 record, beating their opponents by almost 34 points per game.

They lead the nation with fewer points allowed and fewer yards per game and their closest win was a 10-3 win over Clemson at the start of the season. This is the type of season that Alabama usually has, not Georgia.

The Bulldogs have been the No. 1 in the country since Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M and are coming to the SEC title game with a lot of confidence and even a little arrogance.

“This team has responded to all the things we’ve challenged them with,” Smart said after beating Georgia Tech on Saturday. “We hit them with different things every week, things that we really want to focus on: the responsibility from the point of view of making the other players responsible for different things week after week. And they’ve done it every time.”

What’s at stake?

So for the first time since the national title meeting nearly four years ago, Alabama and Georgia are reunited. And he’s back in Atlanta, this time for the SEC crown.

Both teams feel they need this win, but for very different reasons.

For Alabama, which ranks third in the college football playoff rankings, the chances of a seventh Nick Saban-era national title are at stake here: No two-loss team has reached the college football playoffs since of the format of four teams. the 2014 season began.

A lot could happen in other conference title matches on Saturday that could allow Crimson Tide to come close with a second defeat, but they can’t count on that.

Georgia’s No. 1 in the playoffs and with a loss, would still secure a place in the top four, even if not the No. 1 seed.

But for this team, it’s about winning Alabama. Kirby Smart’s 0-3 win against its former boss and the Bulldogs has lost six straight to the overall series: its last win came in 2007, which was Saban’s first season with Crimson Tide.

The Bulldogs in the SEC championship secured a place in the college football playoffs, but a victory over

“Each year is independent of the previous one,” Smart said. “Our job is to go play the best game possible. That’s what we’ve tried to build this year. We haven’t done our best yet, and we think our best is still there. That’s the goal.”

Another Georgia team, the Atlanta Braves, had to beat a Los Angeles Dodgers team that had chased them for years on their way to a first World Series title in 26 years. For the Bulldogs to win the national title that has eluded them for the past 41 years, they will have to climb on their own boogeyman: Alabama.