November 10, 2012; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) looks to pass against the Texas A

SEC Championship to feature nation's top passers, nation's best defense

A J McCarron and Aaron Murrray enter today’s SEC Championship Game with almost identical quarterback ratings. Murray leads the nation with a 177.1 rating and McCarron is a close second with a 176.3 rating – virtually indistinguishable stats. Murray has more yards (3201 to 2507) but also has more attempts (320) than McCarron (265). However, McCarron has a slightly better completion percentage (67.2) compared to Murray (66.6). The real distinction between the players is turnovers. Aaron Murray has thrown five more interceptions than McCarron (7 to 2).

Both quarterbacks play smart, efficient football. The real difference in the game could be in the overall team performance. Alabama has scored 12 more points than Georgia this season but Alabama (No 1-ranked defense) has given up 101 fewer points than Georgia (No. 22-ranked defense). As the saying goes, defense wins championships and the history of the SEC championship indicates that the games are not usually close.

Games are not played on paper and statistics don’t mean very much compared to preparation and the mental aspect of the game. Georgia players have done a lot of talking this week about how much better they are in talent. Alabama players, characteristically, have been silent. Team discipline at Alabama is always a focus.

It’s hard to compare the two on an even scale. Despite the fact that both are SEC teams, they have very few common opponents this season due to division scheduling. Both teams shut out Auburn in November. Tennessee scored 44 on Georgia but only 13 on Alabama. Missouri scored 20 on Georgia and 10 against Alabama. Only Ole Miss fared better against the Tide, scoring 14 compared to 10 against Georgia.

Based on total defense and on common opponents, Alabama appears to be better equipped to step up and control the game. Anything can happen on a given Saturday and Georgia is a very good team – perhaps the best the Tide has faced. The winner of this game will face Notre Dame for the BCS championship and a possible 7th consecutive title for an SEC team.

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