I had lunch with Ucheedawg Monday, and prior to our lunch, I tasked him with a homework assignment: Give me a reason why Alabama will beat Georgia for the SEC Championship.
He gave me 18. His first four were: Nick and Saban, and Mark and Richt. His final 14 were the 14 days that Alabama had knowing it would face UGA in the Georgia Dome. You don’t give Nick Saban two weeks to prepare for something and it not be perfect.
I have four simple reasons why Georgia will beat Alabama for the SEC Championship on Saturday, and go face Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship on January 7.
I have gone on to the nth degree on this blog how based on bad luck and not taking advantage of opportunities, Georgia has not won their National Championship under Coach Richt. In 2002, Georgia had a near identical record to LSU in 2003, Florida in 2006, and still didn’t play for it all. UGA in 2005 was near identical to LSU in 2007; by and large, in college football, you need a certain amount of luck to win a National Title. Georgia has been unlucky in previous seasons. Other teams have been lucky.
Some years, Georgia hasn’t been lucky. Other years, the defense was weak but the offense was strong. Then vice-versa. Some years the schedule wasn’t favorable. We have the right team, the right schedule, and this is the right time.
Things have lined up too perfectly this season. Not only do we control our fate, but the breaks have finally gone our way. It is our time. No regrets. Commit to the G.
Last time UGA played Alabama, they whipped us. The Blackout Game II will live in infamy. It is time for revenge, just like in 2004. This team is very similar to the 2004 team. Defense with an All-Star cast. Two really good WRs. Two really good freshmen running backs. Throw in a seasoned, veteran quarterback who is breaking all sorts of records and knows what it takes to win.
Nick Saban’s LSU team whipped Georgia in the 2003 SEC Championship game en route to Saban’s first BCS Title. The next September, the Bayou Bengals game into Athens, not as strong as the year before. Richt and company avenged the 2003 loss, and then some.
Nick Saban is without a doubt the best coach in college football. But, our Mark Richt is no slouch himself, despite what you might read on the Dawgvent or hear from Bill Shanks. Richt knows, as he put it in Macon at a speaking engagement in 2011, what the hell he is doing. You don’t have sustained success for 12 years in the SEC if you don’t.
Richt knows a chance like this doesn’t happen very often. He also knows respect is earned, not given out. Mark Richt’s job is not on the line in this game, but his legacy might be. He knows that this might be his best chance to ever win a National Championship at Georgia. Saban will put a lot in this game, no doubt, but Mark Richt will put his heart and soul in this one, too. Our team and coaching staff will be prepared for this game.
Also, look at the confidence level. One team is boasting loud (a little too loud for my liking) that they have talent and have been playing well. Another team’s head coach is already complaining about what will happen to the loser of the game.
3. Improved From a Year Ago
The UGA defense at this point in the season is at least as good, if not better, than the defense from a year ago. The defense a year ago held LSU to 0 first downs in the first half of the SEC Championship game.
The UGA offense is vastly improved from a year ago. Last year against LSU, the offense had some success against LSU in the first half. In the 2nd half, LSU and John Chavis knew along with everyone else in the Georgia Dome that Georgia was not going to run the ball. Our offense was one dimensional, thanks to Isaiah Crowell. Now, the UGA offense is dynamic with Murray and Gurley/Marshall hitting on all cylinders.
4. Favorable matchups
I have been saying all season long that Alabama’s secondary is their Achilles Heel. I watched the Michigan game, and saw Michigan receivers running open. Denard Robinson just couldn’t hit them. I watched the Alabama-Arkansas game. With Tyler Wilson hurt, Rs. Freshman Brandon Allen came in and was not very good in his first career start. But I saw that Arkansas had recievers open, the young quarterback just couldn’t make a play. I said here on this blog that Alabama’s secondary was weakness. I thought at the time, that the only team that could exploit this weakness Alabama could play would be UGA and Aaron Murray. Well, I didn’t figure Zach Mettenberger would have that much success, and I was wrong (24/35, 298 yards). I also didn’t know that Johnny Manziel would do what he has done. He went 24/31 for 253 against the Crimson Tide.
Now if you go to CFBstats.com, you’ll see Alabama has the best secondary in the SEC. But you want to talk about Georgia’s weak schedule? Let’s talk about Alabama’s. These two teams have shared 5 common opponents-42%. If you want to discredit what Georgia has done because of the lesser opponents, you need to equally discredit Alabama.
Georgia has the passing game to exploit the aggressive Alabama defense. Georgia now has a running game to keep this defense honest.
I feel like our defense can stop the Alabama offense. Georgia’s best player is Jarvis Jones. In the defense’s worst performances this season-Florida Atlantic, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky-Jones either didn’t play or was not at 100%.
The defense is at full strength and is now playing rock solid. Since the Florida game, Georgia has given up a TD to Ole Miss, two TDs to Georgia Southern, and a TD to Tech in Garbage time. Pretty dern good. Grantham has shown he is adept in making 2nd half adjustments. If our defense can come out and slow down the Tide in the early going, just like they did against LSU a year ago, then look out.
I posted last year at this time 3 keys to victory over LSU. One was throwing the ball downfield and having a running game to keep the LSU defense and their secondary honest. We tried passing, but as I outlined in this post following the game, that didn’t happen. The second key to victory over LSU was our defense, as I said I didn’t think LSU could move the ball on our defense. I think I got that one right, as many of their scores were set up by their dynamic athletes not on offense.
Last year, the key was to have a balanced game plan and not be one dimensional on offense. Crowell’s head pats are a distant memory now. The defense and Coach Grantham will do their part. We have the horses to compete with the Crimson Tide. It’s time to ride these thoroughbreds to victory.