Saturday, January 20, 2018
Colleges

Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide seek to add to SEC success

In the 20 years since the SEC instituted a league championship game, the winner has gone on to win the national title nine times.

Today, Alabama and Georgia are hoping for an opportunity to make that 10.

No. 2 Alabama (11-1) and No. 3 Georgia (11-1) battle it out in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game, but a conference title is not all that's on the line tonight. The winner earns the right to play undefeated Notre Dame in the BCS title game.

"To get a chance to play in this game means so much to us," Bulldogs linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "A lot of guys sacrificed a lot, many hours, practices, fighting through injuries and all that stuff just to get to the point where we are today. We're just grateful for this opportunity."

Georgia is playing in its second consecutive SEC title game, where it was routed 42-10 to LSU last season. That has the Bulldogs out for redemption.

"We're a different team than last year heading into the SEC Championship Game," senior linebacker Christian Robinson said. "I think we were just simply excited to be there and didn't realize what we could have done. … That's been dwelling on our minds since then. We're a hungry and humbled group that's ready to get to the game."

This is the first meeting between Georgia and Alabama since 2008, a 41-30 victory for the Crimson Tide. But for an Alabama team that has carried the defending national title bulls-eye on its back all season, the approach will not change.

"We basically are going to have the same mind-set we've been having all year," said Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, the SEC's second-leading rusher behind Georgia's Todd Gurley. "We know it's going to be a tough opponent on both sides of the ball, and on special teams as well. So we just have to come out and prepare the same way we've been preparing and expect a dog fight."

For Georgia, a great deal of focus has been placed on Aaron Murray, the three-year starting quarterback and former Plant High standout.

Murray is 1-2 in bowl games, finally got his first win over a Top 10 team this year (17-9 over Florida) despite three interceptions, and is 0-1 in the SEC title game, numbers that have made him a target in the national media this week. His decision to remove himself from all media obligations this week increased that scrutiny, but his teammates said he's trying to make sure he's as prepared as he can possibly be.

"I just think he's dedicated to this week, and being prepared," Robinson said. "I know this one means so much to him. … He just wants to be completely ready and not have big distractions. This is the biggest game of our career."

The game features two of the SEC's top quarterbacks. Murray has thrown for 3,201 yards this season and leads Division I-A in passing efficiency (177.15). Alabama's AJ McCarron is second in I-A passing efficiency (176.26) and has 2,507 yards. It's Murray's ability to run that concerns the Tide.

"It's going to be very challenging," defensive back Dee Millner said.

Alabama enters the game with I-A's No. 1 total defense (233.67 yards per game), and the No. 1 scoring defense (9.25). Georgia is allowing 17.67 points per game, and each has a solid running back tandem.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said when he looks at both teams, he sees similar programs. The biggest edge for the Tide? They know how to win titles.

"There are a lot of similarities," Richt said. "One thing they've done is they've been national champions and we've not. They've been SEC champions and we've not during the time frame of these kids' careers. That's the biggest difference I see right now."



Comments
Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

Gary Trent, Duke rally past Miami with 18-0 run

CORAL GABLES — Gary Trent scored a season-high 30 and No. 5 Duke needed less than three minutes to erase a 13-point second-half deficit, scoring 18 consecutive points to overtake No. 25 Miami 83-75 on Monday night. The Blue Devils scored 15 in six po...
Published: 01/15/18

Shrine Game journal: Homecoming for Utah OL Salesi Uhatafe; Quinton Flowers works on snaps

ST. PETERSBURG — Salesi Uhatafe is back in his hometown, and though he moved to Texas when he was still a baby, it’s very much a homecoming as the former Utah offensive lineman plays in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field."I’ll probab...
Published: 01/15/18
Iowa State’s two-way star Joel Lanning practicing at linebacker for East-West Shrine Game

Iowa State’s two-way star Joel Lanning practicing at linebacker for East-West Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — Joel Lanning has the unique distinction of being listed as an "LB/QB" on the West roster for Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.And while the former Iowa State star spent the entire practice at middle linebacker Mond...
Published: 01/15/18
Keith Jackson, leading college football broadcaster, dies at 89

Keith Jackson, leading college football broadcaster, dies at 89

Keith Jackson, the folksy voice of college football who for decades weaved backwoods wit through Saturday afternoon ABC broadcasts, died Friday night. He was 89.In a 52-year broadcasting career, Mr. Jackson covered a wide variety of sports for radio ...
Published: 01/13/18
No. 24 FSU outlasts Syracuse in double overtime

No. 24 FSU outlasts Syracuse in double overtime

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State squandered a double-digit halftime lead for the second straight game. This time, it was able to overcome that.The 23rd-ranked Seminoles scored the first six in the second overtime to propel them to a 101-90 victory over Sy...
Published: 01/13/18

Florida manhandled in paint by Ole Miss for first SEC loss

OXFORD, Miss. — Florida came into its matchup focused on stopping a talented group of Ole Miss guards.But it was the play of the frontcourt that did in the Gators on Saturday afternoon.Bruce Stevens scored 22, Deandre Burnett added 20 and Mississippi...
Published: 01/13/18
South Carolina gives Will Muschamp new $28 million deal

South Carolina gives Will Muschamp new $28 million deal

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Will Muschamp received a new six-year, $28.2 million contract after a nine-win season that culminated with a victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Muschamp’s contract was approved Friday by the school’s boar...
Published: 01/12/18
Jones: March Madness is weeks away. What’s up with college basketball?

Jones: March Madness is weeks away. What’s up with college basketball?

We’ve been a little busy lately.What with Dirk Koetter staying and Evan Longoria going. We’ve been distracted by UCF and amazed by Alabama. There has been Jon Gruden news and what is shaping up to be a very special season for the Lightning.With all t...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Bobby Bowden: Dadgum it, UCF has a gripe

Bobby Bowden: Dadgum it, UCF has a gripe

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is 88 and still keeps a busy schedule of speaking engagements. On Wednesday he was in Omaha, Neb. — his fourth city in a week — to receive the Tom Osborne Legacy Award for his contributions to college football ...
Published: 01/11/18
Jones: The secret to Alabama’s success

Jones: The secret to Alabama’s success

Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach of all-time.The current Alabama run — five titles in nine seasons — belongs at the top of any dynasty in the history of the sport. To do what Bama has done in this day and age of parity is remarkableS...
Published: 01/09/18