A Closer Look at the Tide’s Perceived Dominance
Bama has been strong for five consecutive football seasons but remains virtually untested this year and has in fact played .500 football against the only two decent teams they faced, while losing a big divisional game at home for the third consecutive season.
When the season started, BAMA was well prepared to face the program with the most wins in college football history: a Big Blue Michigan team with a good second-year coach and an exciting senior quarterback, coming off a big BCS win. Michigan was only a slight underdog to the defending national champion and SEC West runners up, primarily because Alabama had to replace the top drafted running back and seven stellar defenders. I watched that game very closely to scout Alabama for weaknesses which I knew had to exist on a team with that much turnover. Lost in that blowout was the fact that open receivers ran through the vaunted but rather inexperienced Alabama secondary all day. Denard Robinson just did not have the passing touch to hit them, and with Michigan’s running back out of the game his chance of unpredictability in running was less than minimal. Shoelace was totally shut down and stayed in the pocket and floated passes while the Tide rolled. Michigan would go on to lose four regular season football games playing in an unusually weak Big Ten.
Georgia’s schedule was viewed as much softer because virtually no one outside of the Sunshine State (besides me – on the record in the preseason on The Sports Joc Show – www.thesportsjoc.com) predicted top rival Florida would have a good year, and UGA missed last year’s #1 Alabama, #2 LSU and #5 Arkansas while playing in the SEC East. Conversely, Alabama had to play at LSU, and the Bayou Bengals were not predicted to struggle as much on offense as they have. And Bama played at Arkansas, but by the time the Tide got to Hogland that program was in utter shambles.
Miss State was undefeated and would be Bama’s first test. They blew Miss State out, and the Maroon Pups went in the tank, losing four games, including most recently, a blowout at the hands of the .500 Ole Miss Rebels in the Egg Bowl. They aren’t good.
So at LSU was to be the test. A rematch of both the national championship non-contest and the most overhyped regular season game in the history of the sport. Easy to forget the virtually unwatchable 9-6 LSU overtime victory on the Capstone, notable only for a lack of offensive production by either team and the shellshocked faces in the crowd when it was finally over. That game was like watching a good first team defense scrimmaging an inferior backup offense, at best. By the time Bama slightly won a popularity contest over league-champions-with-the-same-record Oklahoma State a few weeks later, Georgia’s Todd Grantham had exposed LSU in a complete first half shutdown in Atlanta. Georgia grad Kirby Smart was smart enough to do it for two halves, while mastermind Nick Saban was in control of all aspects of the game enough to able to convince his punter not to kick to the Honey Badger (Editor’s note: playing in his last game). Something Richt and UGA failed to do, with no accountability as UGA has no special teams coach. As Bobo had successfully schemed for UGA to do (before he got cold feet and Murray went into one of his big game shells in a horrible second half), Bama came out passing against LSU and found many open receivers. Again, the whole game instead of just in the first half. UGA actually helped Bama win it all. Before that first half, no one had any answer for LSU. Few recall that those Bayou Bengals were touted by the media as the greatest regular season team in the history of college football. They’d played the schedule and beaten all comers including the SEC, Oregon and West Virginia. Some said they had already sealed at least a split national title…and then they fell on their overhyped faces in 6 of 8 quarters and got shut out.
Bit of a tangent or two there, but heck if this ain’t my blawg, Dawg.
This year, UGA transfer Mettenberger was having an awful year, and the team had already been beaten by the Gators. He suddenly remembered how to pass and lit Bama up for 300 yards. Open receivers were there for him all game, and he had LSU in a position to win if their overrated defense could have made one more stop, at home. Bama won in what is now obvious as their only big win of the year. I have to wonder if LSU was good at that juncture in the season. They had not played well before that football game, and it was their second loss. Bama also yielded over 100 yards to an LSU running back, by the way.
Next up was two-loss Texas A&M, facing a road test against the #1 team in the WORLD. Bama could beat an NFL team, Spurrier said. Johnny Football shredded them for 345 yards.
Since then, Bama has beaten two far inferior programs by identical 49-0 scores.
Though he has finished no higher than national #2 (and #3, once each), Richt has quietly won more SEC rings (2-1) and more division titles (5-3) at Georgia than Saban has at Bama. Saban had success at LSU before, but Richt owns a better career winning percentage overall, trailing exactly zero coaches in the SEC and only three in all of the NCAA.
This UGA team is loaded with players who have played in this game before, while Bama finished second in the West last year and fourth two years ago. Georgia has the nation’s passing efficiency leader. Georgia has the best running back in the SEC. Virtually all of Georgia’s veteran defense would start in front of Bama’s current defenders were they on the same team, according to all of the top-rated NFL scouts. If the more talented team wins this football game, it will be GEORGIA. Yet, only one polled state picked the back-to-back SEC East champions to beat mighty Alabama in Saturday’s game.