If you just look at the numbers and the recent struggles in big games, there’s a growing consensus around the country that Alabama is not what it used to be and that Nick Saban knows it.
But what about the rest of the SEC? Is that view shared in that conference? Is it still Alabama and everybody else? Or is Alabama, in fact, everybody else?
“My impression of that is, no, it’s not shared,” CBS Sports college football analyst Verne Lundquist said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “There’s a big theme that we’re quite aware of down here in the South, and that is that the ascendancy of Alabama under Saban began the last time they played at Georgia. It was No. 3 versus No. 8, and Alabama just waylaid them 31-0 in the first half and then the next year went on to win the first of their national titles. There are some columns that I’ve read, some articles, that indicate that this will be the end of the cycle should Georgia hold on to win. I’m not of that view. I think Saban is one of the great coaches in the country. I don’t think he’s weary of it yet. There’s some people who think he might be. I’m not one of them.”
Alabama opened the year with a 35-17 win over Wisconsin but was beaten badly at home by Ole Miss, 43-37, on Sept. 19. While the final score made the game look like a nail-biter – and certainly there were some tense moments late in the fourth quarter – Alabama trailed by 19+ points. Twice.
Looking ahead to this week, No. 13 Alabama (3-1) strolls into Athens to face No. 8 Georgia (4-0).
That’s right. The Bulldogs are ranked higher, and they’re playing at home. Thus, it’s a game they should win – and they just might.
As long as they block out what happened the last time the Tide came to town.
“(It) was the blackout game in ’08,” Lundquist recalled. “Georgia had started the season as preseason No. 1 and was favored in that game, and Alabama came in and jumped out 31-0. It wound up 41-30, but Georgia’s problem (is this): There’s a perception of them as a football team and a coaching staff that they find potholes almost every year that they should avoid. They’ve got to win. There’s a perception that they can’t get over the hump. Mark Richt is in his 15th season now, and he won two SEC championships – the first in ’02 and the last in ’05. But it has been 10 years. Now, they’ve provided us with one of the great SEC championship games ever in 2012 when they lost to Alabama, 32-28. Just a classic. But they lost it. And they lost the last time the two teams played in Athens. They lost to Missouri a couple of years ago when they should won. They’ve lost to Tennessee. (They’ve got to win).”
Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET.