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SEC Championship Preview: A New Era in The SEC

SEC Championship Preview: A New Era in The SEC

Prepare for the end of an era in the SEC this Saturday. We’ll bid farewell to Gary Danielson, Brent Musberger, and, most notably, the beloved theme song. That song won’t be the same next year as the crew prepares for Iowa’s 5-3 win over Nebraska. This weekend also marks the final meeting of SEC East and West division winners in Atlanta, as the league ditches divisions with Texas and Oklahoma joining next year. Hopefully, the league will find better ways to decide tie-breakers. My apologies, UTSA. On the field, we’ll see if Kirby Smart and Georgia have surpassed Nick Saban and Alabama. UGA alum and former ESPN commentator David Pollock stirred excitement last year when he declared, “Georgia has taken over college football” at halftime of the national championship game (in front of Saban). Here are three keys to Georgia ushering in the new era in the SEC.

SEC Championship Preview: A New Era in The SEC

SEC Championship Details

🎟️: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 8 Alabama
🏟️: Mercedes Benz Stadium
📅: December 2
⏰: 4 PM ET
📺: CBS
💰: Georiga -5.5

Three Keys for Georgia

Start Fast

Georgia faced challenges with complacency this season, experiencing close calls against Auburn and Georgia Tech due to slow starts and sloppy play. However, seemed unstoppable when they remained focused and dialed in. In Week 6, facing a Kentucky team with upset talks, Georgia swiftly took control, scoring on their first drive and securing a decisive 51-13 victory. In Week 10, Neyland Stadium was rocking when Jaylen Wright took the ball 75 yards from scrimmage to put Tennesssee up 7-0 early. Georgia responded with 24 consecutive points, leading to a dominant 38-10 win. The following week, Georgia showcased their prowess by routing No. 10 Ole Miss 52-17 in Athens.

In 2024, Carson Beck has proven he’s more than just a game manager for Georgia, showcasing his skills with close to 3500 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and only six interceptions this season. He will be essential to Geogia’s fast start. This will be the most significant start in his career, but his comments earlier show he is excited and ready for the game. “When I made my decision to come here, I knew that at some point when I did have my opportunity that we were going to have the chance to play in big-time games like this on a big-time stage,” Beck said. “Obviously super excited and stoked for the opportunity and the challenge that awaits us.”After playing with a limited receiving corps last week against Georgia Tech, Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey should return to ignite the Georiga offense.

Weather the Storm

Georgia is well aware of Saban’s knack for second-half adjustments. In the 2018 national championship game, Saban’s decision to swap Jalen Hurts for freshman Tua Tagovailoa at halftime proved pivotal. Facing a critical 2nd and 26 in overtime, Tagovailoa connected with Devonta Smith, snatching the national championship from Georgia’s grasp. A year later, in the SEC championship game, Alabama, trailing by two touchdowns, mounted a comeback, defeating Georgia 35-28. Hurts stepped in for the injured Tagovailoa, to lead the fourth-quarter rally this time.

In 2023, Georgia has excelled in making adjustments, particularly in defense. The team has displayed a unique ability to allow opposing offenses to score on their opening possessions. After the win against Tennessee, Smart joked (as only he could) that he wanted to get the Vols scoring out of the way early. “I talked to (Glenn) Schumann before the game [and said], ‘Just let them score so we can get this over with.'” While the defense hasn’t been as impenetrable as in the last two years, defensive coordinators Schumann and Will Muschamp are making adjustments and finding ways to limit and slow down opposing offenses. Georgia will need big performances from Tykee Smith and Malaki Starks to slow down the Tide.

Forget History

There is a reason Saban is called the G.O.A.T. Saban is 10-1 in SEC Championships, winning 16 straight games in Atlanta, and is undefeated in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (7-0). Georgia is 0-3 all-time in SEC Championship games against Saban and Alabama. The Tide handed Georgia its last loss in the 2021 SEC Championship, knocking off No. 1 Georgia 41-24. Georgia found redemption in the national championship, defeating Alabama 33-18. The win snapped Georgia’s 41-year national championship drought and a seven-game losing streak to Saban and Tide.

Smart was asked at his Monday press conference what significance the 2022 meant for this year’s team. Unlike his friend and former Alabama staffer Lane Kiffin, Smart responded with no nonsense. “It meant that the University of Georgia got a national championship.” While not precisely bulletin board material in Tuscaloosa, it represents Smart and Georgia’s focus: looking ahead and focused on their next opponent.

SEC Championship Preview: A New Era in The SEC
Photo Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports


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