November 24, 2012; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) points out the defense against the Auburn Tigers during the second quarter at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

SEC Championship: Welcome to Atlanta

The Alabama Crimson Tide have made it back to Atlanta for the SEC Championship for the first time since 2009. The Georgia Bulldogs return for the second consecutive year as Eastern Division champs. The winner of this game will face Notre Dame in Miami for the BCS National Championship. The stakes simply could not be any higher.

Mark Richt hopes to shake off the reputation of not being able to win the big one. His Bulldogs were crushed last year in this game against the LSU Tigers by a count of 42-10. The last time Georgia faced Nick Saban and the Tide, the game labelled ‘The Blackout’ turned into a blowout.

“The thing I said to the team [following last year's loss] is:  The bad news is we got whipped pretty soundly,” Richt said in his comments yesterday to the media covering the event. “I said, the good news is, we got whipped together […]So, all right, well we lost together, let’s go back to work together; let’s go back and win together; let’s stay together; let’s stay unified.  So that helped a lot.”

Nick Saban meanwhile has his team playing for the SEC crown that eluded Alabama last season, even though the Tide found themselves playing for the BCS title anyway against SEC rival LSU. A win here against Georgia will silence the criticism that Alabama backed into a shot at the title.

“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Saban said. “It was a disappointment to our team. When you don’t get in this game and you don’t give yourself a chance to be successful in this game, you really can’t determine your own self – you have no control of your own self-determination. So somebody else has got to beat somebody else and all of that kind of stuff.  But, you know, you’re here, you have an opportunity, and if you have success, you control your destiny.”

The coaches understand the stakes, and the players are ready to go. All the talking is done, and it’s almost time to play the game.

We’ve taken a look at the Georgia offense and defense; examined why Alabama will win and how they might lose; and contemplated both the inevitability of victory and the unthinkable defeat. All that remains is to play the game.

It’s SEC Championship Saturday. Let’s all get ready to roll.

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