John Adams: SEC again stands apart ... just look at today's title games

John Adams
Alabama head coach Nick Saban, left, and Georgia head coach Mark Richt, pose for a photo with the Southeastern Conference championship trophy during a news conference ahead of Saturday's SEC Championship NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, left, and Georgia head coach Mark Richt, pose for a photo with the Southeastern Conference championship trophy during a news conference ahead of Saturday's SEC Championship NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Once the SEC started the conference championship playoffs, much of college football soon followed its lead. But the copies don't compare to the original.

That rarely has been more obvious than today.

Alabama vs. Georgia isn't just for the SEC championship. It's a stepping stone to the BCS national championship game.

That's not an aberration. Three times in the past five years, both teams in the SEC championship game have been in the running for the national title as well.

Contrast the Alabama-Georgia match-up in the Georgia Dome with what else is going on in college football today. In two words, not much.

Let's start with the ACC championship game: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets qualified for the game by winning five of eight conference games. But Georgia Tech lost to non-conference opponents Brigham Young, Middle Tennessee State and Georgia by an average of 29 points.

But in the ACC Coastal, it's not whether you win or lose that counts, it's how well you follow the rules that matters. Miami and North Carolina, who had the same conference record as Georgia Tech, were ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA probation.

The ACC playoff game lost even more value last Saturday when both Florida State and Georgia Tech lost to in-state rivals from the SEC.

Wisconsin can relate to getting into a championship game thanks to other teams breaking the rules. The Badgers played their way into the Big Ten championship game by losing three of their last four games. In fact, they could have lost all four and still have been the playoff representative of the Leaders Division, whose true leaders — Ohio State and Penn State — ran afoul of NCAA law.

So which conference playoff game do you think will draw the most viewers?

But it's not a perfect day for the SEC. If it were, Florida would play the winner of Georgia vs. Alabama for the national championship.

Everybody outside the SEC must cringe at how close the conference came to putting two teams in the national championship game, just as it did last year. If unbeaten Notre Dame had slipped up in any one of those close games it eked out, one-loss Florida would have had a shot at its third national championship in seven years.

Alabama 27, Georgia 24: Tennessee fans won't recognize the Bulldogs, who gave up 44 points in a seven-point victory over the Vols in late September.

In Georgia's last five games it has yielded only 43 points. And all of its supposedly high NFL draft prospects on defense are playing up to their preseason billing.

It's basically the same defense that held LSU without a first down in the first half of last year's SEC championship game. And the way it has played lately, it could match Alabama's No. 1-ranked defense almost hit-for-hit.

But can Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray match Alabama's AJ McCarron completion-for-completion?

Although Murray leads the SEC in pass efficiency, he struggled terribly against the two best defenses he faced. He completed only 23 of 55 passes and threw four interceptions against Florida and South Carolina combined.

Top 25: Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 23; Kansas State 41, Texas 23; Oklahoma 38, TCU 27; Florida State 40, Georgia Tech 21; Oregon State 45, Nicholls State 14; Baylor 42, Oklahoma State 37.

Record: 209-52 (.801), (.522) against the spread.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 12

cloudodust writes:

First, I'd like to say I'd have a hard time trusting a HC in the near future that wears a visor sticking around for the long haul ahead. I'd like to think Tennessee is really and seriously looking to a proven HC heading to a late DEC or JAN bowl. That being said, UGA-Alabama ought to be a good match-up with UGA winning the 1st half (overall), Alabama winning the 2nd half, (again overall) and the game. FSU beats GT so in the ATL, the Falcons get the golden ink for the week ending 01DEC...The beauty of it all is that IF the Bulldawgs lose, their fanbase will waffle (once again) on Richt. It's been a love-hate relationship, so far, to date. We all know what happens when a HC succeeds to a point then falters. Richt was brought (bought) to UGA because Donnan couldn't consistently beat UT. Richt wins, give him 4 years (give or take more). Richt loses, it's two more and 'See Ya"...

rb4346 writes:

Hopefully in 2 or 3 years there will be a story about Tennessee getting ready for the SEC Championship game. Get the right coach and I think it will be a fact. IMO. Go Vols!

thecafeongreenwood writes:

What if Alabama lost by 2+ touchdowns this weekend and dropped their bowl game against a lesser opponent?

signalcorps writes:

john will ND every be made to play in a conference,, it's not fare bama and other schools has to play the best teams in their confrences for their last games,,after their conferences games players will be banged up some until next season ,,I think this is a big unfare advantage.....I know this has been talked about before I think it's time for the ncaa to act.....

Sir_Spanky writes:

I would like to see Mark Richt defeat Nick Saban so that Nick Saban, his team, and their redneck fan base can go back to where they came from. That way, they will no longer be in the faces of the rest of us.

BoroVol1964 writes:

in response to signalcorps:

john will ND every be made to play in a conference,, it's not fare bama and other schools has to play the best teams in their confrences for their last games,,after their conferences games players will be banged up some until next season ,,I think this is a big unfare advantage.....I know this has been talked about before I think it's time for the ncaa to act.....

What wasn't "fare" was that LSU beat hammer in Alabubba last year then because Nick Satan has so much pull LSU had to play them again for the NC. That was not "fare".

Vol_in_Mich writes:

WOW! A post thad didn't say anything about Gruden or the UT loss to Ky last year. Things are improving.
These other championship games are a joke. You will never see two SEC teams play for the NC again, even if they are the best two teams by far. Their little four team playoff was set up in a way that prevents that from ever happing once they go to that system. The NC is becomming the joke it once was, might as well just let the Raymonds (sports writers) decide it. We han have a different #1 for each poll.
Like it or not, the BCS did what it was set up to do, match up the #1 team against the #2 team in a NC game.

Go Hart: Get it right!

Vol_in_Mich writes:

Damn, need an edit button or spell check on here.
1 - that not thad
2 - can not han

Boy, I'm sure looking forward to the Vols bowl game! Anybody know when it starts?

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to BoroVol1964:

What wasn't "fare" was that LSU beat hammer in Alabubba last year then because Nick Satan has so much pull LSU had to play them again for the NC. That was not "fare".

Don't whine. I didn't want to see a re-match in the championship game, but Bama was obviously a much better team than LSU, and the only reason LSU got the W in the regular-season game was Bama's kicker missed a boatload of chipshots. Bama out-played them in every aspect of the game, but missed four FGs to give it away. I hate Bama, like any UT fan should, but they would have beaten LSU 9 out of 10 times, and hammered them at least half of those.

CCLC writes:

in response to cloudodust:

First, I'd like to say I'd have a hard time trusting a HC in the near future that wears a visor sticking around for the long haul ahead. I'd like to think Tennessee is really and seriously looking to a proven HC heading to a late DEC or JAN bowl. That being said, UGA-Alabama ought to be a good match-up with UGA winning the 1st half (overall), Alabama winning the 2nd half, (again overall) and the game. FSU beats GT so in the ATL, the Falcons get the golden ink for the week ending 01DEC...The beauty of it all is that IF the Bulldawgs lose, their fanbase will waffle (once again) on Richt. It's been a love-hate relationship, so far, to date. We all know what happens when a HC succeeds to a point then falters. Richt was brought (bought) to UGA because Donnan couldn't consistently beat UT. Richt wins, give him 4 years (give or take more). Richt loses, it's two more and 'See Ya"...

Richt is 8-4 against the VOls. So if your logic holds he will stay as long as he wins. I don't see much happening in Knoxvegas this decade. You now have a rivalry with Vandy. Gosh. No instate talent. Mattresses burning and no coach in sight. Gruden calls Vols a Fantasy wanna coach. Can it get much worse? Well yeah. Best to keep so humor about it though.
http://www.careerbuilder.com/monk-e-m...

killervol69 writes:

I don't care who they are playing, but in our family we always root for who Alabummer is playing. With that being said, "GO DAWGS"!!!

cloudodust writes:

in response to CCLC:

Richt is 8-4 against the VOls. So if your logic holds he will stay as long as he wins. I don't see much happening in Knoxvegas this decade. You now have a rivalry with Vandy. Gosh. No instate talent. Mattresses burning and no coach in sight. Gruden calls Vols a Fantasy wanna coach. Can it get much worse? Well yeah. Best to keep so humor about it though.
http://www.careerbuilder.com/monk-e-m...

CCLC : You'll probably never read this but, who cares..? Oh, btw, Alabama wins. Did I nail it..?

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