A game for the ages

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All of college football will have their eyes on Atlanta this Saturday for what figures to be one of the best games of the season between the 11-1 SEC East champs, the Georgia Bulldogs and the 11-1 SEC West champs, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The winner will play undefeated Notre Dame for the National Championship, although some believe the better match-up will be played this Saturday between the two SEC heavyweights.

Amidst all of this is chatter of how Florida may have deserved a chance to play in a big-stakes game, to which I say: nonsense. If the Gators had taken care of business and beaten Georgia, they would be facing Alabama and have a legitimate chance to win the National Championship and finish the season undefeated. They didn’t. Case closed.

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Notre Dame beat all the teams on their schedule. It may not have been pretty, but more than anyone, they deserve to be in the National Championship.

As it stands, Florida will likely go to the Sugar Bowl, with the winner of the SEC Championship playing for the National Championship and the loser going to a much inferior bowl.

This year’s SEC Championship will probably be most similar to the LSU-Alabama game played earlier this season, meaning it should be quite a good game.

Both teams are similar with two impressive running backs, although one’s overall numbers are much heftier, Eddie Lacy in the case of Alabama and Todd Gurley in the case of Georgia.

One difference is this game will be played at the neutral Georgia Dome and not in the hostile environment of Death Valley—at night.

Another major difference is Aaron Murray is a much better quarterback than Zach Mettenberger. For three straight seasons, Murray has thrown for 3000 yards, putting him in the upper echelon of college quarterbacks. A.J. McCarron is probably right up there with Murray.
Murray seems to have found his stride at just the right time. He looked lost when Georgia was humiliated by South Carolina 35-7 in Columbia. However, since then he seems more confident and more relaxed. Sure, he made some bad throws against Florida but he also completed passes when it mattered most.

As far as the level of competition, Alabama has played four top 25 teams and has come out with a 3-1 record. Georgia hasn’t faced as many challenging teams, going 1-1 against the two top 25 teams they’ve faced this season. Most importantly, their defense looked ferocious against Florida. If they play with the same intensity and Aaron Murray has a good game, Georgia has a good chance to win.

It seems Mark Richt doesn’t get enough credit. This is his fifth SEC Championship game, the same number Nick Saban has coached in (remember: Alabama didn’t play in last year’s SEC Championship game, while Georgia did). Richt has a 2-2 record in the SEC Championship, while Saban is 3-1. While it’s important to point out that Mark Richt doesn’t get enough credit, he also isn’t the same coach as Nick Saban. He hasn’t won three national championships. He’s also 0-1 in the SEC Championship when coaching against Saban.

But you can throw all of that out the window. Saban may be the better overall coach, but for now, all that matters is who will be the better coach this Saturday. College football, as we’ve seen over and over again this season, is so unpredictable. That’s what makes it so much fun.