2018 SEC Championship Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
The rematch we've been waiting for since January has finally arrived. The two best teams in the SEC will square off once again with a conference championship and playoff implications on the line for both programs.
Alabama and Georgia will play for the SEC crown on Saturday after being the unanimous favorites in the preseason, and it will be their first meeting since Tua Tagovailoa's 2nd and 26 touchdown pass in overtime. That game also took place inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta - the site of Saturday's game - and gave the Crimson Tide its 17th national championship.
Now, the circumstances are a little different. Alabama and Nick Saban appear to be all but a lock for the College Football Playoff while Georgia and Kirby Smart have to pull the upset to get another shot at a title.
It's the biggest game of the weekend and the country will be tuned in to see if the Bulldogs can shock the Crimson Tide. Here's everything you need to know about the 2018 SEC Championship Game.
No. 1 Alabama (12-0, 8-0 SEC) vs No. 4 Georgia (11-1, 7-1 SEC)
When: Saturday, December 1 at 3:00 p.m.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
Weather: Temperatures in Atlanta should be in the low 60s most of the day with a chance of rain but conditions will be perfect inside the dome.
TV: CBS (Play-by-play: Brad Nessler, analyst: Gary Danielson, sideline reporter: Jamie Erdahl)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: John Parker Wilson, sideline reporter: Rashad Johnson). Listen on 95.3 the Bear and Tide 102.9/100.9 in Tuscaloosa or download the station apps to stream the game for free.
Spread: The Crimson Tide opened as a 10-point favorite and that quickly moved up to -13.5. The total for this game is 64. Alabama covered last week in the Iron Bowl to finish the regular season 8-4 against the spread while Georgia finished 7-5 ATS.
Series History: This will be the 69th meeting between the two programs and just the second in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama leads all-time, 39-25-4, and has won four straight in the series. That includes a 26-23 win in the national championship and a 32-28 win in the 2012 SEC Championship Game. Nick Saban is 6-2 all-time against Georgia (4-1 at Alabama) while Kirby Smart is 0-1 against his former boss.
Last Meeting: January's overtime finish likely go down as one of the all-time greatest championship games. The Crimson Tide entered the game as the 4-seed while Georgia came in as the 3-seed, and the Bulldogs had a tremendous defensive gameplan to slow down Jalen Hurts. After a scoreless first quarter, Georgia would score 13 in the second and take a 13-0 lead into the half.
In what might turn out to be Nick Saban's greatest adjustment, he made the switch at quarterback and gave true freshman Tua Tagovailoa his first real chance. The Crimson Tide would trim the gap a little in the third quarter before tying it up at 20-20 with just under four minutes left. Alabama had a chance to win it in regulation with a short field goal but Andy Pappanastos couldn't convert.
In overtime, Georgia's Rodrigo Blakenship drilled a 51-yard field goal to give his team the lead, but that left the door open for Tagovailoa. After a first-down sack, the true freshman etched his name in history with this 2nd and 26 throw to DeVonta Smith for a game-winning touchdown.
Last Week: Alabama hosted the Iron Bowl on Senior Day and the Tide was a little slow out of the gate for the second straight week. Auburn got behind early but pulled to withing three points heading into halftime, but that's about where the drama ended. Tagovailoa came out and threw touchdown passes of 46, 33, and 40 yards in the third quarter to take a 38-21 lead. He would add one more touchdown pass in the fourth before giving way to Jalen Hurts, who threw one pass that went for a 53-yard touchdown. Alabama closed out a 52-21 win to complete a regular season that saw no opponent get within 20 of the Tide.
Georgia erased any concern that Georgia Tech might make it competitive in the rivalry game last Saturday. The Bulldogs stormed out to a 38-7 halftime lead behind a balanced offensive attack. Georgia tacked another touchdown on in the third before two late Georgia Tech touchdowns made it a 45-21 final. Kirby Smart's team doubled up the Yellow Jackets on offense and first downs to close out an 11-1 regular season.