CFP National Championship Game Tale of the Tape

The 2017 season’s College Football Playoff National Championship game will feature two teams from the Southeastern Conference.  This year marks the first time two teams from the same conference will meet in the title game in the short history of the CFP.  The combatants are the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the University of Georgia Bulldogs.  Each team has a rich history.  The following contains some facts about each school: first football season, overall record, national championships (Awarded by the Associated Press and/or the designated coaches’ poll at the time. Claimed titles while on probation do not count.), conference titles, consensus All-Americans (players voted first team, second team, or third team by the Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, the Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation), players and coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame, and Heisman Trophy winners.

 

  1.  Alabama

First Season:                                                    1892

Overall Record:                                               890-327-43

National Championships:                             16

Conference Titles:                                           30

Consensus All-Americans:                            69

College Hall of Famers:                                  23

Heisman Trophy Winners:                            2

 

2.  Georgia

First Season:                                                    1892

Overall Record:                                               808-419-54

National Championships:                             2

Conference Titles:                                          15

Consensus All-Americans:                            33

College Hall of Famers:                                 17

Heisman Trophy Winners:                           2

 

The game will feature head coaches that know each other very well:  the teacher (Alabama’s Nick Saban) and the pupil (Georgia’s Kirby Smart).  Smart worked for Saban as an assistant coach for 11 years.  The odds makers have made the Crimson Tide a 3.5 point favorite, and the game should be an old fashioned donnybrook.  Make no mistake about it—blood, sweat, and tears will accompany this game.  Fierce battles will take place in the trenches. Spectacular plays will be made on both sides of the ball.  The coaches will be on edge and quick to anger.  The tension will mount with each play as the game progresses.  Only one team will walk away victorious.  Will it be the Crimson Tide or the Dawgs?  Whoa Nellie! Let’s bring it on!

 

Alabama-Georgia Gridiron History

CrimsonTideAlogo

While the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia do not play football against the other every year, the games seem to have conference and national implications when they do meet. This time the two schools meet Monday in arguably the biggest of them all–the College Football Playoff national championship game from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.  The game will mark the 68th meeting between the two schools; Alabama leads the series 38-25-4 while averaging 16.8 points per game to Georgia’s 12.1.

The series dates back to 1895 when Georgia defeated Alabama 30-6 in Columbus, Georgia. Alabama earned its first victory over the Bulldogs in a 1904 game in Tuscaloosa with a 16-5 victory. The two schools, between 1895 and 1930, played in six different cities—Athens, Atlanta, Birmingham, Columbus, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. Interestingly, Georgia was Alabama’s first opponent in the Birmingham Fairgrounds (1905), Cramton Bowl (1922) in Montgomery, and Legion Field (1927) in Birmingham.  Alabama was the home team for 21 of the first 25 games.

Many of the games have been memorable. Joe Namath made his debut against the Bulldogs in 1962, a 35-0 win at Legion Field. Georgia executed a hook-and-ladder play to defeat the Tide in 1965 in Athens by the score of 18-17. Alabama quarterback Jay Barker dueled with Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier in the 1994 game won by the Tide in Tuscaloosa, 29-28, and Georgia kicker Billy Bennett hit a game-winning field in 2002 for Georgia’s first victory in Tuscaloosa, 27-25. The last time the Bulldogs and Tide met in Tuscaloosa, 2007, Matthew Stafford hit Mikey Henderson for a 25-yard touchdown in overtime to lift Georgia to a thrilling 26-23 victory.

Yet arguably the greatest game in the series, and the one with the most at stake for the teams, took place in 2012 during the Southeastern Conference Championship game in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  Alabama was ranked second in the polls while Georgia was third. The Tide took a 10-7 lead into halftime behind a Jeremy Shelley field goal on the last play of the half. The game appeared to be a tough SEC defensive battle, then the second half unfolded as an offensive display of power from the two behemoths. Georgia took the second half kickoff and marched down the field.   Bulldog running back Todd Gurley ran the ball seven times, including the final three yards to give the Bulldogs a 14-10 lead.  The Tide then held the ball for more than five and a half minutes before calling on Cade Foster to boot a 50-yard field goal, but Georgia’s Cornelius Washington blocked the kick and teammate Alec Ogletree returned the ball 55 yards for a touchdown. Georgia led 21-10. Alabama then drove the field behind the passing of quarterback AJ McCarron and the running of T.J. Yeldon.  Yeldon bulled his way the final 10 yards to the end zone and carried again for the 2-point conversion that pulled Alabama within 21-18.

After Georgia punted on its ensuing drive, Alabama used running backs Eddie Lacy and Yeldon to march to the Georgia one-yard line as the third quarter ended. On the first play of the final period, Lacy covered the final yard that gave the Tide a short-lived 25-21 lead.

During Georgia’s next possession, quarterback Aaron Murray hit receiver Tavarres King for 45 yards and Gurley scored from the 10-yard line to put Georgia back ahead, 28-25. The drive took less than two minutes.

McCarron gave Alabama the lead for good at the 3:15 mark after a 45-yard scoring strike to Amari Cooper. Down 32-28, Georgia summoned the red and black spirits of past gridiron greats and marched back down the field through and over the Tide defense. Murray hit Arthur Lynch for 15 yards, then 23 to King, and again to Lynch for 26. The ball rested at the Alabama eight-yard line as the clock ticked down and the Bulldogs out of timeouts. With nine seconds to play, Murray dropped back looking for the end zone and a victory that would go down as one of the greatest in Georgia history. Instead, a defender tipped Murray’s pass and Chris Conley caught the ball before falling at the five-yard line. As Murray hurried his teammates to the line for another play, the clock struck zero. Alabama escaped and later destroyed Notre Dame for the national championship.

The 68th installment of this great series will take place in the stadium that replaced the Georgia Dome. Odds are that fans on both sides will be breathing heavily and have hearts racing by game’s end, much like the 2012 classic.  Roll Tide and Go Dawgs!

 

Alabama Nicknames

 

 

CrimsonTideAlogo

Many of you know that the University of Alabama football teams are commonly referred to as the Crimson Tide or the Red Elephants.  But how many of you know the stories behind the names?

In newspaper accounts of the 1900 Alabama football team, the squad was referred to as the “Varsity” or the “Crimson White” because of the school colors.  By 1906, writers were referring to the team as the “Thin Red Line.”  Birmingham Age-Herald sports editor Hugh Roberts is credited with the first use of the term “Crimson Tide.”  Alabama and Auburn played in Birmingham in 1907 and Auburn was a heavy favorite to win.  The underdog boys from Tuscaloosa played Auburn to a 6-6 tie in the red mud.  Roberts called the Tuscaloosa boys the Crimson Tide and the name stuck like the mud on the Alabama team’s jerseys.

Alabama’s association with the elephant goes back to the 1930 team coached by icon Wallace Wade.  Alabama and Mississippi battled one afternoon.  Atlanta Journal writer Everett Strupper reported that Wade started his second team line, which was bigger than the Mississippi line.  However, the Mississippians held their own for most of the first quarter.  At the end of the quarter, according to Strupper, “The earth started to tremble, there was a distant rumble that continued to grow.  Some excited fan in the stands bellowed, ‘Hold your horses, the elephants are coming,’ and out stamped this Alabama varsity.”  Strupper and other writers  continued to refer to the Alabama linemen as the Red Elephants…the color referring to the crimson jerseys.

Incidentally, that 1930 Alabama team went undefeated and held the opposition to a total of 13 points.  After blanking Washington State in the Rose Bowl, the Red Elephants were declared national champs.