SEC title game teams have long history

sports@macon.comNovember 26, 2012 

It’s only fitting that Georgia and Alabama meet in the SEC championship game Saturday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The charter members of the conference are two of the three top programs in conference history with 1,583 total victories, 16 national championships and 34 conference titles. Alabama is first all-time with 825 wins, with Georgia third at 758. Tennessee is second in wins with 799.

As storied as the two programs are, this will be the first time they have met in the SEC championship game, a game first played in 1992. It also marks only the sixth time that second-ranked Alabama and No. 3 Georgia are both ranked in the top 10 when they meet. Georgia has prevailed in four of the five previous ranked matchups.

Alabama leads the series 36-25-4.

Georgia would just as soon forget its last meeting with Alabama, on Sept. 27, 2008, when the Bulldogs were ranked third and Alabama eighth. That was the famed blackout game, when the Dogs donned black jerseys and fans wore black garb. The blackout didn’t help, as Alabama rolled to a 31-0 halftime lead en route to a 41-30 victory. That season, Georgia was the preseason No. 1 pick in both major polls. Following the loss, the Dogs fell to 11th, while Alabama advanced to No. 2.

One of Georgia’s biggest upset wins in school history and Vince Dooley’s first signature victory as the Dogs’ head coach came against the defending national champion Crimson Tide in 1965 in Athens. The difference was the famed flea-flicker play that covered 73 yards. With Georgia down 17-10 late in the game, Dothan, Ala., native Kirby Moore, who is now an attorney in Macon, hit Pat Hodgson on a pass, and Hodgson then lateraled to Bob Taylor, who took it to the end zone.

There was some controversy on the play, as film showed Hodgson’s knee was on the ground when he caught the pass, which would have ended the play at that point, but, as legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant said afterward, “You don’t win games on Monday night at the movies, you win them on Saturday afternoon.”

As big as the flea flicker was, the Dogs still had to convert the two-point conversion to win the game, and they did when Moore connected with Hodgson.

Maconite Jiggy Smaha also had a major role in that victory. His pass deflection resulted in an interception by defensive tackle George Patton, who returned it 55 yards for Georgia’s first touchdown earlier in the game.

Despite the loss to Georgia that season, Alabama repeated as national champions, beating Nebraska 39-28 in the Orange Bowl.

The matchup in Atlanta between the two teams won’t be the first time they have played in the Capitol City. They squared off in 1942 at Grant Field on the Georgia Tech campus, with Georgia winning 21-10 en route to a national championship.

Incidentally, Georgia will be the home team on the scoreboard Saturday. The Eastern Division champion has the honor in even-numbered years, while the West is the designated host in odd years. The East has won 11 SEC championships, with the West taking nine.

Georgia and Alabama will be meeting for the 66th time Saturday, and the stakes have never been bigger. A spot in the BCS national championship game awaits the winner.

Contact Bobby Pope at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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