One of the most significant showdowns of the 2023 college football season is set Saturday, as the Georgia Bulldogs battle the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
The battle for the SEC Championship and a likely berth in the College Football Playoff had a jolting lead-in on Thanksgiving weekend. Georgia edged the Yellow Jackets 31-23 to win for the 45th time in the last 46 games, capping a third straight undefeated regular season. The two-time reigning national championships have now won 29 straight, a new record for the longest winning streak for an SEC team, topping a pair of Alabama runs from 1978-1980 and 1991-1993.
Earlier in the day, Alabama pulled out a thrilling 27-24 come-from-behind victory over Auburn on the Plains, with Jalen Milroe connecting with Isaiah Bond on a 31-yard touchdown on on fourth down. It was Bama’s second straight tremendous comeback at Jordan-Hare Stadium leading to the SEC Championship Game. Two years ago, Bryce Young marched Alabama 98 yards in the closing minutes to force overtime, where the Tide prevailed.
Georgia is 12-0, Alabama is 11-1, each posting perfect 8-0 conference records. The Crimson Tide’s lone loss was to Texas in the second week of the season in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama and Georgia have combined to capture the last three national championships – The Crimson Tide in 2020, and the Bulldogs the last two seasons in 2021 and 2022 – and have won eight of the last nine SEC titles. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide won in Atlanta three straight years from 2014-2016. Georgia beat Auburn to win the 2017 SEC championship, but lost to Alabama in Atlanta in the National Championship Game. The Tide topped Georgia to win the 2018 SEC title. The Bulldogs fell to national champion LSU in 2019. The Crimson Tide won back-to-back conference titles in 2020 and 2021, defeating Georgia in the latter. The Bulldogs won a rematch in the National Championship Game. Georgia beat LSU last season to win the SEC title en route to a 15-0 campaign and second straight national championship.
The last time neither Alabama nor Georgia was in the SEC Championship Game was in 2013, when Auburn defeated Missouri for the title.
These runs by the programs headed up by legendary coaches Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are similar to Alabama’s dominance in the 1970s and Georgia’s glory days of the early 1980s. Hall of Fame icons Bear Bryant and Vince Dooley were stalking the sidelines, as the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs combined to win every SEC championship between 1971 and 1982.
Alabama has the most all-time SEC championships with 29. Georgia is second with 14. Tennessee has 13, LSU 12.