And they meet again.
Georgia and Alabama play for the Southeastern Conference championship Saturday at 4 p.m. in Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It’s yet another high profile match-up between these two proud programs with the conference crown on the line and a berth in the College Football Playoff assured the winner.
With a second straight unbeaten season and home and second successive decisive victory over Tech, Georgia’s 45-21 victory over the Yellow Jackets sends the Bulldogs flying into Atlanta with an 11-1 record in back-to-back campaigns. This marks Georgia’s best back-to-back regular seasons since the glory days of 1980-83.
Kirby Smart, in just his third season at the Georgia helm, has the Bulldogs in the early stages of another golden era.
And then there is Alabama. For the tenth time in the last 11 seasons, the Crimson Tide has gone either 11-1 or 12-0 in the regular season. This one capped by a 52-21 Iron Bowl rout of Auburn. Nick Saban’s record on The Capstone is incredible, and he has set the standard. Alabama has been in all four College Football Playoffs and Saban has won an incredible six national titles as a head coach, including five at Alabama and the 2003 crown at LSU.
Along the way, the Bulldogs and Tide have crossed paths with major stakes on the line.
Twice Georgia has come tantalizingly close to upending Alabama and winning national / SEC championships. The Crimson Tide’s 32-28 win in the 2012 SEC Championship Game and this past season’s 26-23 overtime decision in the National Championship Game rank as two of the most devastating losses in Georgia history. In 2012, Alabama went on to rout Notre Dame 42-14 in the Orange Bowl for the national title. The feeling is that Georgia would have had similar success over the Irish. So those two battles were the big wins en route to Alabama crowns, while proving as the gut-wrenching road-blocks for Georgia. Smart, of course, helped assemble those tremendously talented Bama squads as Saban’s defensive chief and ace recruiter.
Now Saban’s Dragon Red Elephant stands in the way of a second straight SEC championship for Georgia and crack at the College Football Playoff.
Last season, Georgia defeated Auburn 28-7 in the SEC Championship Game, avenging the Bulldogs lone regular-season loss of the year. Alabama, which also lost to Auburn, still got the bid in the playoff. There have been no setbacks for this Bama team, which is trying to become the first to go 15-0 in the playoff era.
But first, it is Georgia, again.