Bama-UGA gearing up for latest huge SEC title game

BY JOHN ZENOR AP SPORTS WRITER ATLANTA (AP) – Alabama coach Nick Saban finds plenty to like about competing in a league where the champion has a near-automatic reservation to the BCS national title game. That's the case again for Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game between the second-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 3 Georgia. The winner advances to meet No. 1 Notre Dame with a chance to keep the national championship in the SEC for a seventh straight year.
And the loser? Well, that team might be shut out of the BCS picture because No. 5 Florida is in line to grab that spot. Saban is less thrilled about that prospect - another side effect of playing in the SEC. "For either one of these teams, it's not really a great scenario," Saban said on a conference call Sunday. "You play your way into the championship game, which means you're the best team in your division. They're the best team in their division. They played their way into the game by a total body of work for the whole season. It doesn't seem quite right, but it is what it is. "I don't really know what me commenting about it is going to do to change it, but I don't feel good about it for our football team or their football team." Then again, he wasn't complaining when the Tide (11-1, 7-1) landed in the BCS title game against LSU last season without winning the West. The Bulldogs (11-1, 7-1) rebounded from a 35-7 loss at South Carolina on Oct. 6 to win the East for the second straight season. Georgia coach Mark Richt said he doesn't want his team getting caught up in the stakes and magnitude of the game. "All you can do is get your staff and your team as prepared as possible to go play a game," Richt said. "That's what we're going to do. If you think about what the game means, this that and the other, it doesn't really help you win the game. The only thing that helps you win the game is preparation and getting your mind ready to go to battle. That's what you've got to do. "Physically, mentally, be ready to handle your business when the ball kicks off. That's my only focus. I don't worry about all that stuff." Coincidentally, Georgia beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl for its only AP title to end the 1980 season. Richt isn't drawing too much from that history. "That's the first time anybody's brought that up to me," he said. "I can't worry about all that stuff. We're just working like mad trying to get a game plan ready to go this week. That's all I can say." Georgia earned the trip down the road to Atlanta with a win over Florida to claim the tiebreaker. The Gators were ranked third at the time, but Richt can still draw from that win when asked how his team will handle a big game even if his memory is a touch off. "We've already played the No. 2 team in the country once this year and had a good day against Florida," he said. The game will feature the nation's two most efficient passers, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Alabama's AJ McCarron. Alabama comes in leading the nation in scoring and total defense. Both teams are coming off blowout wins over in-state rivals. The Tide produced its fourth shutout of the season with a 49-0 win over Auburn. Georgia dispatched Georgia Tech 42-10. This is Alabama's eighth time in an SEC championship game but the first time the team has played someone other than the Gators. The Tide is aiming for its second straight national title and third in four years. Saban still talks like a guy gunning for his first. "Regardless of what you've accomplished in the past, this is the most important game we're going to play this entire year for our team," he said. "I'm always looking forward to the next challenge. When I can't do that, I probably shouldn't do this anymore. " © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More Sports

Chris Goltermann

Let's stop fooling with Mother Nature and change the sports calendars

Before even yours truly was born - and we're talking about the dawn of the designated hitter in majorleague baseball - a brand of margarine ... Read More


High School Spring Sports

Lady Cougar tennis team stays undefeated

Before another blast of cold air arrived — and possibly a dash of frozen precipitation with it — Newnan’s girls tennis tea ... Read More


High School Basketball

Lady Lions’ season ends in Sweet 16

The 2014-15 basketball season ended earlier than Trinity Christian’s girls had hoped, falling in the opening round of the GISA Class A ... Read More


High School Basketball

Hawks hold off Lions for third in 1-AAA

By DOUG GORMAN dgorman@newnan.com KENNESAW— It might have been for third place, but The Heritage School and Trinity Christian played S ... Read More


High School Baseball

Indians walk past Fayette County in opener

The sun was shining (almost). The temperature hovered around a balmy 50 degrees. And most important for East Coweta’s baseball team, t ... Read More

High School Baseball

Vikings, Cougars drop games

Northgate put together eight hits on Saturday against Columbus, but was left with little to show for it in the runs column while taking a to ... Read More