In 2014, college football will implement a four team playoff system that will give us two semi-final games followed by a national championship game. By the time it’s in place, it will have been long overdue. For over a decade, each passing December brought debate after debate as to who really deserved to be playing in the championship game. There was never a consensus. Someone always felt like they got the shaft. Until this year.
Thanks to the SEC, we have our own semi-final game of sorts in the form of the SEC Championship. When the #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide take on the #3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs tomorrow on CBS at 4pm EST, it will be for all the marbles. Well, all but one-the big one. But it is for the right to play Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game.
Early on in the season, Alabama looked like they were unstoppable. They were steamrolling through opponents with no sign of letting up. Then the LSU game happened. The indestructible looked mortal. LSU had Alabama on the ropes and it took a miraculous last minute drive by the Tide offense to secure a victory. No problem, right? Just a blip on the screen, right? There is no way Nick Saban would allow his team to have a letdown, right? Wrong. Enter the Texas A&M Aggies and their Heisman Trophy front runner, Johnny Manziel. The Aggies upset the Tide in Tuscaloosa to dethrone the college football kingpin. And Alabama didn’t look so unstoppable anymore. Goodbye title hopes, right? Not so fast.
Crazy things happen in college football in November. One week your title hopes are dashed, and then the next week happens. And it happened for Alabama. Oregon and Kansas State buckled under the pressure; both on the same weekend. And now Alabama is right back in the proverbial driver’s seat. No problem, right?
Enter the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia has quietly put together a pretty spectacular season themselves. Outside of their mid-season collapse at South Carolina, Georgia has steadily improved and is positioned to give Alabama all they want on Saturday. Georgia’s roster is loaded with NFL talent. According to most draft experts, Georgia’s roster has more prospects than nearly every other team in the entire country.
Sometimes the word “prospect” can be deceiving. By definition, the word “prospect” is based off of chance. Which means there is just as good a chance that prospect won’t live up to expectations as there is that he will. With all of the recruiting sites ranking players and giving out 5 star ratings like they’re Snickers on Halloween, expectations sometimes cloud reality. Just ask Texas, their roster is loaded with 5 star recruits. So that “P” word doesn’t always translate to success on the field. But, the fact remains, you better be talented to have a chance to beat this Alabama team.
And Georgia is talented. Quarterback Aaron Murray leads the Bulldogs offense. He comes into this game leading the country in pass efficiency at 177.15. He has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 30 TDs to only 7 INTs. He has a cannon for an arm and has played in enough big games that the stage shouldn’t affect him. Plus, for the first time all year, he has refused media requests to focus solely on the game.
There are a lot of comparisons between both teams at every position. They seem to be about as closely matched across the board as two teams possibly could be. The game will be played in the Bulldogs backyard in Atlanta, GA. With the Dogs having clinched a spot earlier than the Tide, the Georgia faithful scooped up the non-committed tickets so it will be a Georgia heavy crowd. That won’t phase Alabama. This is the SEC. They play in front of 100,000 hostile fans every other week.
This game has the makings to be one of the greatest SEC title games ever played. The winner has a date in the national championship game. The Tide have been in this spot before, the Dogs have not. This one will be close; and if it comes down to the end and AJ McCarron has to win it again with a late 4th quarter drive, it won’t catch the Bulldogs off guard. I don’t know what it is, but I have a sneaking suspicion they will somehow find a way to pull off what virtually no one outside of Athens is giving them a 1 out of a million chance to do.
Pretty dumb, right?
Georgia has a chance because they have the prospects. And in the words of Lloyd Christmas in Dumb & Dumber after Mary Swanson told him there was a 1 out of a million chance of them getting together. His response, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”