Who Alabama vs. Georgia
When: Monday January 10, 8 p.m.
The last row: Georgia is a 3-point favorite
The Associated Press
Barely 37 days after their last game, Alabama faces Georgia again with a national championship on the line.
History shows how difficult it is to win again in the rematch.
Nick Saban knows this firsthand – on the losing side.
In the 2011 season, Saban’s Crimson Tide was edged 9-6 by LSU in overtime during the regular season.
When the Powers met about two months later in the BCS Championship game in New Orleans, Alabama smothered the unbeaten Tigers 21-0.
Now it’s the Tide (13-1) on the other side, looking to beat Georgia (13-1) for the second time in just over a month after a 41-24 pie in the Southeastern Conference Championship game on December 4. .
They meet in Indianapolis on Monday night in the college football playoff title game, their last meeting separated only by a pair of easy wins in the semifinal games.
Saban tried to ignore any comparison to 2011, for obvious reasons. This time, he’s the one who will have to beat an SEC rival for the second time to finish No.1.
“These two games were extremely hotly contested, close games in both circumstances, and I would expect the same in this game,” Saban said. “I don’t know if there is anything that I can really take from this experience (2011) that is going to have an effect or an impact on this one.”
Georgia hope to reproduce a similar scenario from the 2017 season.
The Bulldogs were beaten by Auburn 40-17 in the regular season, but got another chance against the Tigers three weeks later in the SEC Championship game.
Again, this was not a contest, only the rematch saw Georgia claim a 28-7 victory that sent the Bulldogs to the college football playoffs.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart conceded that some key things have changed from what was filmed ahead of this season’s SEC Championship game.
The Bulldogs can now study what they did wrong in their only loss of the season, as well as an impressive rebounding victory over Michigan in the Orange Bowl semi-final on New Years Eve.
“Be careful” said smart. “What trends have changed, what matches we’re looking for, who’s in, who’s out. There are a lot of things that go into it. “
There are several reasons why a second meeting in the same season can be so different from the first.
For one thing, the losing team usually has a lot of obvious things they can work on in practice to try and reverse the outcome. This is not the case for the winning team, who have a natural tendency to stick with what has worked so well.
Perhaps the mental side is more important.
A team that has lost usually finds it much easier to motivate itself before the rematch.
Rest assured, the Bulldogs – a unanimous No. 1 for much of the season – have a huge chip on their shoulders after the way they were roughed up by the Crimson Tide last month.
“You can only judge a man by what he does next and how badly he gets hit and gets up” Georgian linebacker Nolan Smith said. “We were hit pretty hard. “
Revenge is rare in college football, but it’s common in the NFL where division enemies meet twice a year.
Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken has had a lot of experience in this field since his stint with the pros.
He doesn’t expect any major chances from either team, but knows there will be opportunities to release a new wrinkle here, a tweak there.
“If you’re constantly changing what you do and your identity, I don’t think you’ll be very good at anything. “ Monken said. “Obviously, there are calls that we’ve had… or other opportunities that we haven’t received. So we look forward to the opportunity and the shot. And they will do our best, I can promise you that.
It will be the first rematch in eight years of CFP history, but the pre-playoffs offer signs of hope for the Bulldogs.
In the 1996 season, for example, Florida lost their regular season final to Florida State 24-21 – a game that left Gators coach Steve Spurrier seething with what he considered to be low blows of the Seminoles who were not penalized.
Florida won another chance against rivals Sunshine State by beating Alabama in the SEC Championship game.
In the Sugar Bowl, the fiery Gators blew up Florida State 52-20 to win what would be the Spurrier’s only national championship.
“You see why I didn’t want to play them again, right?” “ Florida State coach Bobby Bowden later said. “Too good.”
Saban is hoping he doesn’t say the same about Georgia late Monday night.