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Deke's SEC Preview part IV: The two to beat
by Deke Bellavia,posted Jul 19 2013 12:26PM
OK, the final phase of my 2013 SEC Preview ends with the two teams that played for the SEC Title last December in Atlanta. The UGA Bulldogs and the reigning SEC Champions Alabama Crimson Tide are still the teams to beat going into this season.
Georgia outplayed LSU in the first half of the 2011 SEC Title Game and then got blown away in the second half. The Bulldogs then played ok in the first half against Alabama last December before coming from behind to give the Tide all they could handle. Could 2013 be the year the Dogs get it done?
You know when it comes to Alabama I could sit here and tell you all the things about the champions that everyone else has said the last several seasons. But I’ll take a line from Rocky II. When the second fight between Apollo Creed and Balboa was scheduled, Rocky was asked if he had anything derogatory to say about Apollo. Balboa simply replied oh yea he’s great!
Georgia Bulldogs (12-2) – Going into the 2011 season Mark Richt was squarely on the hot seat as his Bulldogs program was sort of at a crossroads. Then after a 0-2 start things got even more iffy and shaky in Athens.
Since that 0-2 start in 2011 UGA has won 21 of their 22 last regular season games. And Georgia has been in the last two SEC Title Games. Maybe the third time will be the charm for these Bulldogs. UGA has the best returning QB in the conference, a solid group of talented skilled players to support their QB. And most importantly the Dogs return all five of their interior Offensive Linemen.
Georgia did lose eight quality players including some of the conference’s best defenders a year ago. But many would argue that those players did not reach their full potential. However, even with only three returning starters on defense back, I think the Dogs have plenty enough on offense to take up the slack.
Georgia averaged 38 points per game in 2012 and I don’t see why those numbers at the very least, can’t be equaled this season. As far as the scheduled is concerned, the Dogs have two toughies to open the season with dates against two of their four rivals.
In fact no team in the SEC or the nation has more rival games than the Bulldogs do. UGA has a salty history with Clemson, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia Tech and their annual deep south’s oldest rivalry against Auburn.
The layout of the schedule leaves me to believe that UGA will be still standing once the regular season is over and make it back to Atlanta for an impressive third straight season.
Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1) – They’ve won three of the last four national titles. They have the #1 recruiting class more often than any other school does. And their coach does not and will not allow his team to think that they are the best.
Yes those key ingredients help make the Rammer Jammer’s from Tuscaloosa the odds on favorite to win the SEC and the national title again this season. Alabama has to be concerned about their younger O-Line and the Tide Defense has some new faces.
But do you think anyone going into the 2013 season is more of a complete team than Alabama? This program plugs in players greater than any other team with the exception of the 80’s and 90’s Miami Hurricanes.
And when you are breaking in some new faces the schedule is also key. Alabama has a tough road game at College Station early in the season and the season opening game against a much improved Virginia Tech Team is no push over either.
But other than those and the Tide’s annual physical brawl with LSU, things look pretty smooth for the Tide. The experience of QB A.J. McCarron is something that not many programs in the history of CFB have ever or will ever have and who else would you actually put above Alabama right now?
Hey look at it like this. If someone beats Alabama, twice, then someone else will make it to the national title game. Until that happens for the good ole folks in Alabama I say to you RTR!