The Southeastern Conference has a lot to be thankful for this week. The conference appears to be set to send one of its members to the Discover BCS National Championship game in Miami, Fla. There is even a slim chance we could see another national title game with two SEC teams squaring off against each other.
One of the things Commission Slive must have mentioned at his Thanksgiving Day feast yesterday was the fact that conference realignment made this “national semifinal” in Atlanta possible. If not for the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri this year – and the scheduling changes brought from that – Alabama and Georgia would have already faced off this season.
The Bulldogs were originally slated to travel to Tuscaloosa this season in a game that would have taken place in late September. When the new 14-team schedule was composed and released last December the SEC wanted to add marquee games for both newcomers. It was determined by the higher-ups in Birmingham, Ala., that both Alabama and Florida would play Texas A&M and Missouri this year.
The marketing ploy or whatever you want to call it caused a problem: there were too many games scheduled and not enough weeks to play them. The old rotation, which would have had UGA playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium this year, had to be thrown out. There could only be two cross-divisional games – only one if you don’t count the permanent rivals – and Alabama couldn’t play Missouri, Georgia or Tennessee.
Uga got a break.
Scratch that, Uga got a huge break. Instead of heading to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama, the Dawgs got to play Ole Miss at home and Auburn on the road this year as their Western Division opponents. I’m sure Mark Richt was really torn up about that when he heard the news.
Georgia has gotten a lot of lucky scheduling breaks over the years. It’s not a conspiracy or anything. At least I don’t think it is. Just a bit of good fortune when it came to not having to play the best teams from the Western Division in what seemed like every year.
The thing is, the Bulldogs never seemed to capitalize on the breaks they caught in the schedule. In the four years that Georgia has been able make it to the SEC Championship Game the Dawgs only won twice, the other two games they were blown out.
Had Alabama played Georgia in late September as originally scheduled, the Crimson Tide would have exposed what you will see in the Georgia Dome next week: an above average football team that has will be overmatched by a superior Alabama team.
The SEC (and even more so, CBS) should be thankful. This game will have a ton of hype, but it won’t even be close. Everyone would have known that, but will now get to see it next week.
You might think that I’m crazy, because that is not an opinion held by many. I just call them like I see them. Just as I told you last week Alabama would be fine and still make it to the national championship game, I’m telling you this week Alabama will dominate the Dawgs in the Dome.
Georgia has been truly impressive this year in three games: Vanderbilt, in the second half against Ole Miss and Auburn. When you’re hanging your hat on Vanderbilt, you are not a great football team.
I know what Auburn fans reading this must be thinking. How could this guy seriously be overlooking the Iron Bowl? I told you last week I wouldn’t ignore an opponent again. Well I’m not. Auburn does not have a chance in this game. I will honestly be surprised if the Tigers are able to score a touchdown.
As this is our last issue, I want to close out by saying that I have enjoyed having the privilege to write this column each week. It has been another great season to follow the Crimson Tide. I hope everyone has a happy holiday season. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
See you all in Miami.