Sept. 25, 2008
By Barry Allen
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Two of the Southeastern Conference's most storied programs will renew their rivalry this Saturday night in Sanford Stadium when No. 8 Alabama visits No. 3 Georgia in Athens.
The Alabama-Georgia series has featured many great moments throughout the 64 previous meetings. Joe Namath made his Crimson Tide debut against the Bulldogs in 1962, leading UA to a 35-0 win at Legion Field. Georgia won a controversial game in 1965 in Athens, executing a hook-and ladder play despite the ball carrier's knee touching the ground. There was Jay Barker and Eric Zeier in 1994 and Michael Proctor's game-wining kick in a 29-28 Tide win in Tuscaloosa. Kevin Jackson and three interceptions against the Bulldogs in 31-0 win in 1995. Billy Bennett's game-winning field goal in 2002 that lifted Georgia to a 27-25 win, it's first in Tuscaloosa.
And in 1991, Alabama defeated Georgia 10-0 in Bryant-Denny Stadium, which represented the first win in the Crimson Tide's school-record tying 28-game winning streak and school-record 31-game unbeaten streak, which lasted into the 1993 season.
The Alabama-Georgia series did miss out on Herschel Walker and Shaun Alexander, two of the greatest backs in SEC lore. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs did not play from 1978-83, missing the Walker era. Georgia fans were denied the talents of Shaun Alexander as the Tide and Bulldogs did not play from 1996-2001.
Alabama and Georgia are the SEC's two winningest programs with more 1,500 wins entering Saturday's Top 10 tussle, which will be the third time in series history the Tide and Bulldogs have met when ranked in the Top 10. The teams have combined to win 14 national championships, 33 SEC titles and play in 98 bowl games, including 55 bowl victories.
"These are the kind of games that you should come to a place like The University of Alabama to play in," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said earlier this week. "To be on national TV is great for our players but the most important thing is we stay focused on what we need to do on the field so we have the best chance to be successful."
The Alabama-Georgia series dates back to the 1895 season and is third-oldest series in the UA record books. The teams first met on Nov. 2, 1895 with Georgia posting a 30-6 win in Columbus. Alabama earned its first series win in 1904, a 16-5 victory in Tuscaloosa.
The two SEC powerhouses have met in six different cities, including Athens, Atlanta, Birmingham, Columbus (Ga.), Montgomery and Tuscaloosa. From 1895-1930, Alabama was the home team for 21 of the first 25 meetings, including 15 games in Birmingham. The series moved to a normal home-and-home series in 1934 and Alabama played its first game in Athens in 1935, which resulted in 17-7 win.
It is interesting to note that Georgia was Alabama's first opponent at the Birmingham Fairgrounds (1905), Cramton Bowl (1922) in Montgomery and Legion Field (1927) in Birmingham.
Alabama leads the overall series 34-24-4. The Crimson Tide is 20-13-2 in games played in the state of Alabama, including a 7-2 mark in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama also owns an 11-7 series lead in Athens, with its last win coming in 1995. Saturday's game will be just the second visit by UA to Sanford Stadium since 1996.
The Tide and Bulldogs played each other 51 times from 1895-1965. The two teams met every year from 1941-65, with the exception of 1943. In 1942, Alabama and Georgia played its game at Grant Field in Atlanta. Two weeks later, Alabama returned to Grant Field to play Georgia Tech. The 1942 Georgia and Georgia Tech games were the first time Alabama has played two different opponents on the road in the same stadium during the same season.
From 1971-82, Alabama and Georgia won every Southeastern Conference championship, totaling 12 SEC titles. The two teams were co-champions in 1981. Alabama won SEC titles in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1981. Georgia won SEC titles in 1976, 1980, 1981 and 1982.
And what it the SEC Championship game had existed during the Paul Bryant and Vince Dooley era of Alabama-Georgia football?
Alabama and Georgia could have potentially met in that game 10 times, including eight meetings from 1971-81.
Talk about powerhouses.