It’s a Titanic mega showdown Saturday, as top-ranked Georgia battles No. 2 Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. Kickoff from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is set for 4 p.m., EST.
Along with the obvious prize of the SEC title on the line, this matchup has major implications for the four-team College Football Playoff.
Georgia comes in with a 12-0 record, the perfect regular season capped with an impressive 45-0 victory over Tech at Grant Field this past Saturday. It was the Bulldogs 11th consecutive victory over the Yellow Jackets on their home field in Atlanta, a streak dating back to 2001. Since defeating Clemson 10-3 in Charlotte in the season-opener on Labor Day Weekend, the Bulldogs have won every game by double digits. The closest margin of victory since Clemson is a 30-13 win over Kentucky. The most points the Bulldogs have surrendered came in Knoxville in a 41-17 triumph over Tennessee.
On the history front, this season Georgia is putting together quite a resume. The Bulldogs have won 16 straight regular season games dating back to last season, which is the second longest in program history. Georgia won 17 in a row from the second half of the 1945 campaign through the opener of 1947. This is Georgia’s first 12-0 regular season. Other perfect regular seasons for Georgia came in 1896 (4-0), 1946 (10-0, wound up 11-0), 1980 (11-0, wound up 12-0) and 1982 (11-0, wound up 11-1).
Alabama is 11-1, soaring in off a thrilling 24-22 quadruple overtime victory over arch-rival Auburn on the Plains. The defending national champion Crimson Tide have either gone undefeated or lost only once in 12 of the last 14 seasons under Nick Saban’s incredible reign. The Alabama faithful have gotten to relive Paul “Bear” Bryant’s glory days of the 1960s and 1970s.
This will be Georgia’s ninth all-time appearance in the SEC Championship Game (all since 2002), and the fourth in the last five seasons under the watch of sixth year head coach Kirby Smart at his alma mater. The Dogs posted a trio of 11-1 regular seasons from 2017-2019 en route to Atlanta. These Bulldogs have but one eventual goal, to get where the kingpin Alabama has regularly been, showering in the confetti of a national championship coronation.
Alabama is making a record 14th appearance in the league’s title tilt.
These two met twice for the SEC crown in Atlanta in the 2010s, and for the 2017 national championship at Mercedes Benz. In all of those games, Georgia had double digit second half leads, but the Crimson Tide would come back to win. Those games represent some of the most significant wins of Saban’s amazing tenure, and are on the bizarro Mt. Rushmore of crushing Georgia losses.
Now Bama looms and lurks again for Georgia.
Are the Bulldogs already in the playoff? A two-loss team has never made it. What would the seedings be if Alabama wins?
All are popular points of conjecture. But here are two certainties: the winner is in, and champions of the SEC.
For both of these programs and coaches, that is the focus and the next step on the road to the ultimate dream.