Alabama to Face Georgia in SEC Championship Game
Nov. 26, 2012
THE GAME: Alabama makes its eighth appearance in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, December 1, against the Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. It will be the first meeting between the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs since 2008 and the first in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama's eight SEC Championship Game appearances is the most of any Western Division team, while UGA is making its fifth appearance. The Tide leads the series 36-25-4 after a 41-30 victory in Athens on Sept. 27, 2008. Saturday's game will be televised nationally on CBS with kickoff set for 3 p.m. CST (4 p.m. EST in Atlanta). Verne Lundquist will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Gary Danielson at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.
HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his sixth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school's 27th head coach on January 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 61-13 record (66-13 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to three SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and two national championships. Saban holds a career record of 152-55-1 (157-55-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 13 of his 16 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban's direction. Saban is the only active coach to win three BCS national championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.
RANKINGS: Alabama remains at No. 2 in The Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls entering the 14th week of the 2012 season. Georgia is third in both polls.
GEORGIA: Georgia is 11-1 on the season with a 7-1 mark playing in the SEC's Eastern Division. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 5-0 record, reeling off wins against Buffalo, Missouri, Florida Atlantic, Vanderbilt and Tennessee. UGA's only loss came at the hands of then-No. 6 South Carolina, 35-7, in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 6. After a win at Kentucky, the Bulldogs captured their biggest win of the season with a 17-9 victory over then-No. 2 Florida. Georgia enters the SEC Championship Game with six straight victories after beating Georgia Tech, 42-10, last Saturday. Alabama and Georgia have played five common opponents this season (Florida Atlantic, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Auburn) and both recorded 5-0 records in those games. Alabama's margin of victory against those five common opponents was 32.8 points per game while Georgia's was 25.8 points.
FOLLOW ALABAMA'S AWARDS CANDIDATES ONLINE: You can follow weekly updates on Alabama's 2012 awards candidates at www.rolltide.com/candidates/. Scroll over the defense and offense header at the top of the page to select a player. Updates are available each Tuesday morning for cornerback Dee Milliner, linebacker C.J. Mosley and nose guard Jesse Williams on the defensive side of the football and right tackle D.J. Fluker, center Barrett Jones, quarterback AJ McCarron and right guard Chance Warmack on offense.
TIDE NO. 2 IN BCS STANDINGS: Alabama remained at the No. 2 position in this week's Bowl Championships Series standings. Undefeated Notre Dame beat Southern California on November 24 to close its regular season and claim a spot in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. The winner of this weekend's SEC Championship Game between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia should earn the right to challenge the Fighting Irish in Miami on January 7. The BCS percentage is calculated by averaging the percent totals of the Harris Interactive, USA Today Coaches' and six computer rankings. The Crimson Tide garnered a .9236 average, which is .0743 lower than Notre Dame (.9979). Georgia is third at .8911 and Florida is fourth with an average of .8882. Rounding out the top 10 is Oregon (.8626), Kansas State (.7735), LSU (.7357), Stanford (.7299), Texas A&M (.6861) and South Carolina (.6689).
SENIOR CLASS SUCCESS: The Crimson Tide has 59 victories since the start of the 2008 season for Alabama, the most in a five-year span in SEC history. By beating Auburn last week, the Crimson Tide passed the record established by the Florida teams of 2005 through 2009. The NCAA era record for most victories in five seasons in major college football is 60, set by Nebraska from 1993 through 1997. In the past four seasons, Alabama has 47 victories. The SEC record for most victories in a four-season stretch is 48, set by Florida from 2006 through 2009 and equaled by the Alabama teams of 2008 through 2011 and Alabama 2009-12. The national record for four-year victories in the NCAA era is 49, set by Nebraska from 1994 through 1997 and matched by Boise State from 2006 through 2009.
10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for its fifth consecutive season in 2012, boasting an 11-1 record. The Tide has 32 10-win seasons in 117 seasons, two back of Oklahoma (34) for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has had seven 10-win seasons since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). Tide head coach Nick Saban is the 11th coach in school history to lead his team to a 10-win season. In addition, Saban is the fifth coach in school history to have more than one 10-win season.
Barrett Jones FINALIST FOR LOMBARDI AND OUTLAND: Senior center Barrett Jones has been named a finalist for both the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy. The Lombardi Award goes to the nation's top interior lineman or linebacker and is presented by the Rotary Club of Houston. Jones is Alabama's 10th finalist. Jones, who won the Outland Trophy last season, is a finalist again in 2012. He is one of three Alabama players (Chris Samuels, 1999 and Andre Smith, 2008) to win the Outland Trophy. The only Alabama player to capture the Lombardi Award was Cornelius Bennett in 1986.
Jones Earns NFF National Scholar-Athlete Honors: Senior center Barrett Jones has been selected as one of 15 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athletes, which was announced by the NFF and College Hall of Fame on October 24. The honorees comprise the list for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy, recognizing the top scholar-athlete in the nation. Jones is the sixth Alabama football player to be named a NFF National Scholar-Athlete. He joins Johnny Musso (1971), Randy Hall (1974), Steadman Shealy (1979), DeMeco Ryans (2005) and Greg McElroy (2010).
McCARRON FINALIST FOR JOHNNY UNITAS GOLDEN ARM AWARD: Junior quarterback AJ McCarron was selected as one of the final five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and was one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award is presented on Dec. 7, at The Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore, Md. McCarron ranks second nationally and second in the SEC in passing efficiency (176.26) while completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,507 yards and a school-record 25 touchdowns with two interceptions in 265 attempts this season (one interception every 132.5 attempts).
Dee Milliner IS FINALIST FOR NAGURSKI AWARD: Junior defensive back Dee Milliner was selected as one of five finalists for the 2012 Bronko Naguraki Award. Joining Milliner, vying for the honor of college football's National Defensive Player of the Year is South Carolina sophomore end Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o and Florida State junior end Bjoern Werner.
MILLINER ONE OF THREE FINALISTS FOR THORPE AWARD: Junior defensive back Dee Milliner was selected as one of three finalists for the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award. Joining Milliner as finalists are Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks and Fresno State's Phillip Thomas. Milliner has 47 tackles with four tackles for loss, two interceptions and 16 pass breakups.
Kirby Smart WINS AFCA ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR: Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has been named the American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year. The honor comes on the heels of winning the Broyles Award in 2009. Under Smart's direction, the Alabama defense is one of the best in the nation, leading the nation in total defense (233.67 ypg ) and scoring defense (9.25 ppg) in 2012 while ranking No. 2 in rushing defense (77.0 ypg), No. 5 in pass efficiency defense (98.66 rating)and third in pass defense (156.67 ypg). His defenses have helped Alabama win two BCS national titles in the last three years and five of his defenders earned All-America honors in 2011. Six players on the defensive side of the ball have been drafted in the first round in the last three years.
Barrett Jones NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT FOR 4TH TIME: Senior center Barrett Jones was named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District IV team for the fourth time in his career. Jones, from Germantown, Tenn., is a three-time Capital One Academic All-American and a two-time first-team selection.
SCORING STREAK CONTINUES: With Eddie Lacy's two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against Auburn on November 24, Alabama raised its current total of consecutive games in which it scored to 154 - the longest streak in program history.
RED ZONE EFFICIENCY: Alabama enters the Georgia game 48-for-53 in its red zone trips, tied for ninth in the nation in that category at 91 percent. The Crimson Tide has scored 299 points from inside the red zone with 39 touchdowns and nine field goals. On the year, UA has scored 28 rushing touchdowns and passed for 11 inside the 20-yard line. Alabama's 91 percent leads the SEC
TOUGH TO SCORE ON: Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama has traditionally been one of the most difficult teams to score touchdowns against. In 2012, the Tide has allowed its opponents to come away with points on only 61 percent of opportunities in the red zone (14 of 23) to lead the nation. The Tide's defense has surrendered 11 touchdowns and three field goals this season from inside the red zone while allowing opposing offenses to enter the red zone only 23 times in 11 games. Overall, UA has surrendered 13 touchdowns and five field goals on defense this season. UA only allowed nine touchdowns by opposing offenses all of last season and just six touchdowns and two field goals inside the red zone. UA also led the nation in red zone defense last season, allowing scores just 59 percent of the time (10-of-17). Alabama ranked tied for fourth in 2010 and tied for second in 2009 with both teams allowing a score on 67 percent of opponents' red zone opportunities.
INTERCEPTION MARGIN: Over the last four seasons, Alabama's starting quarterbacks have thrown 16 interceptions in 1,239 pass attempts (one interception every 77.4 pass attempts), while the defense has recorded 75 interceptions in 52 games. The Tide's current starting quarterback, AJ McCarron, has thrown seven interceptions in 641 career attempts and is on pace to set school and SEC records for quarterbacks with at least 600 pass attempts (Tim Tebow with 1 every 62.2 attempts from 2006-09). McCarron is averaging one interception every 91.6 attempts in his career. In 2012, McCarron has thrown a pick every 132.5 attempts (2 in 265 attempts), which is on pace to be better than any SEC quarterback (Peyton Manning with 1 every 95 attempts in 1995) has done in any season (minimum 200 attempts).
YARDS HARD TO COME BY: Since the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has not surrendered yards easily. Over that 26-game span, the Tide defense has allowed just three opposing teams to reach 300 total yards (341 by Georgia Southern in 2011, 435 by LSU and 418 by Texas A&M in 2012). Teams have been held under 200 total yards 14 times, and less than 100 total yards twice. Rushing against the Tide has been even more difficult over that span as teams have been held to under 100 yards 21 times, under 50 yards 11 times and in negative yardage twice.
SHELLEY LONE PERFECT KICKER IN 2012: Senior Jeremy Shelley is the only kicker in the nation yet to miss an extra point or a field goal in 2012. Thus far, Shelley has hit all 60 of his extra-point attempts and all 10 of his field goals. Five of his field goals have come from the 20-29 yard range, while the other five have come from 30-39 yards. His long on the year is 38. The Tide did have one unsuccessful PAT conversion, but that play was credited as a team miss after a mishandled snap.
TURNOVERS = POINTS: Alabama has converted the 27 turnovers it has forced in 12 games this season into 146 points. At the same time, the Crimson Tide has surrendered 13 turnovers that have resulted in 24 points for a 146-24 advantage. Alabama forced three turnovers against Michigan and turned those into 14 points. Against Western Kentucky, Alabama produced 21 points off four Hilltoppers miscues. Alabama capitalized on five Arkansas turnovers for 35 points, followed by another 14 off three interceptions against Mississippi. At Missouri, the Tide scored 14 points off a pair of interceptions and then tallied 13 points on two turnovers at Tennessee, while the Vols got three points off of one Alabama turnover. The Tide collected 14 points off two turnovers against Mississippi State. UA did not force a turnover at LSU or vs. Texas A&M, and allowed a touchdown to the Tigers following a fumble and to the Aggies following a fumble and an interception. UA turned one Western Carolina fumble into seven points and two interceptions and a fumble against Auburn into 14 points. Alabama has a 153-24 edge in points off turnovers when including the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against LSU (13 games).
TURNOVER MARGIN: Alabama enters the 14th week of the season tied for ninth nationally in turnover margin at plus-1.17. The Crimson Tide has forced 27 turnovers (16 interceptions and 11 fumbles) while only giving up 13 possessions. Over the last 14 games, dating back to the 2011 Auburn game and the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, Alabama holds a 31-14 edge in turnover margin. UA forced a total of 10 fumbles in 2011, recovering seven. In 2012 the Tide has forced 15 and recovered 11 in 12 games.
THREE-AND-OUTS: The Alabama defense has been one of the leaders again this season in forcing three-and-outs. The Crimson Tide has forced a three-and-out on 44.8 percent (64-of-143) of opponents drives this season, averaging 5.33 per contest. Alabama had a season-high of nine three-and-outs against Florida Atlantic, had seven against Arkansas to open SEC play and Western Carolina, six at Missouri and Tennessee and five against Mississippi State and Auburn. (Any drive that was stopped in three plays or less or was four plays and a turnover on downs was used to compile this information).
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 21-7 against The Associated Press top 25 over the past five seasons and 12-4 against AP top 10 teams. The Crimson Tide is 3-1 against the AP top 25 in 2012, with victories over No. 8 Michigan, No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 6 LSU and a loss to No. 15 Texas A&M. Alabama went 4-1 vs. top 25 teams in 2011 and 5-3 against the AP top 25 in 2010. Seven of the last nine matchups have gone in favor of the Tide, with one loss coming in a 9-6 overtime defeat to LSU on November 5, 2011, and a 29-24 loss to Texas A&M in 2012.
ALABAMA LEADS FOR MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 59 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama is 11-1 this season.
WILLIAMS ONE OF FOUR NON-PUNTERS FROM DOWN UNDER: Senior defensive lineman Jesse Williams is one of just four Australians playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision in a position other than punter. There are currently 13 punters on FBS rosters from Australia.
MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICANS: ESPN.com and SI.com announced their midseason All-America teams, and offensive linemen Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack and cornerback Dee Milliner were named to both squads while linebacker C.J. Mosley was named to the SI.com defensive first team. D.J. Fluker garnered second team SI.com offensive honors.
JONES NAMED SENIOR CLASS FINALIST: Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones (Germantown, Tenn.) is one of 10 NCAA® Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes selected as finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate football. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
DEFENSIVE RANKINGS: The Crimson Tide defense was No. 1 in all five major defensive categories a season ago and has been near the top of the rankings throughout the 2012 season. Alabama leads the nation in scoring defense (9.25 ppg) and total defense (233.67 ypg). Alabama is second rush defense (77.0 ypg), third in pass defense (156.67 ypg) and fifth in pass efficiency defense (98.66). The Tide leads the nation in red zone defense (allowing scores on 14-of-23 trips inside the Tide's 20-yard line) and fewest first downs allowed per game (13.17).
MILLINER THIRD NATIONALLY IN CAREER PASSES DEFENDED: Junior Dee Milliner ranks third nationally among active players with 32 pass breakups during his three years at the Capstone. His 32 career passed defend are second in the Tide career record book while is 16 this season ranks tied for fourth.
LESTER GETS 14TH CAREER INTERCEPTION: In Alabama's win over Auburn, senior safety Robert Lester picked off his 14th career pass, which ranks tied for the third most in Alabama history. Lester also ranks eighth in career interception return yards with 183. He has four interceptions on the year to rank tied for third in the SEC and tied for 31st nationally (.33 per game).
MILLINER EXPERIENCE BOLSTERS TIDE DEFENSE: Junior cornerback Dee Milliner may not be listed as a returning starter, but it is hard to ignore his experience. Milliner, who is turning in an All-America-caliber season, boasts 27-career starts in his three years of action at the Capstone. He started 11 games as a freshman in 2010 and then served as the Crimson Tide's third cornerback in 2011, making six starts last season, and was on the field more than several starters due to the high percentage of nickel and dime defense UA. He has started 11 games in 2012 and played in 37 career contests. Milliner has six interceptions to go along with 32 pass breakups and 129-career tackles. He is tied for fourth in the nation in passes defended at 1.64 per game (16 PBU, 2 INT).
MOSLEY TIES SCHOOL MARK FOR INTERCEPTIONS FOR A TD: Junior C.J. Mosley intercepted a pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown against Michigan in the season opener, his third interception return for a score in his Alabama career, tying Antonio Langham's (1990-93) school record. Mosley had two touchdown returns in 2010 (vs. Florida and Georgia State). He has five career interceptions with picks against LSU in the 2011 BCS Allstate National Championship Game and one at Tennessee in 2012.
10 POINTS OR LESS: Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or less 40 times since the start of the 2007 season with the most recent occurrence coming on November 24, against Auburn (49-0), which was the seventh this year. The Tide has also shut four opponents out this year (Western Kentucky, Arkansas, Western Carolina and Auburn). Alabama was successful in holding opponents under 10 points in nine games in 2011. In 2010, the Tide held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that mark seven times in 2008 and 2009. In 2007, Alabama posted two games in which it held opponents to that mark. Alabama has shutout opponents 10 times during the Saban tenure.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: In head coach Nick Saban's 79-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense 52 times, or 65.8 percent of the time.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban's last 66 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 26 times, including five times in 2012. Alabama accomplished the feat eight times in 2011. The Tide held Kent State to 90 yards and LSU to just 92 yards BCS Championship Game, which marked the second and third times a Saban defense has limited its opponent to less than 100 yards of total offense. Alabama's best came in 2009 when they held Chattanooga to 84 yards of total offense. The Tide held opponents under 200 yards three times in 2010, four times in 2009 and six times in 2008.
TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama leads the nation in giving up the fewest rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2005 season, surrendering only 57. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 39 rushing touchdowns, while Ohio State is second, allowing 54. Alabama has surrendered seven rushing touchdowns in 2012.
RUSHING DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to less than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only 11 individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season, a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban's arrival, the Tide has allowed just six players to rush for more than 100 yards in a game: LSU's Jeremy Hill (107 yards), Georgia Southern's Dominique Swope (153 yards), Tennessee's Tauren Poole (117 yards), Mississippi's BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 yards), Houston's Anthony Alridge (100 yards) and Arkansas' Darren McFadden (195 yards).
PICKING UP SACKS: Alabama has been getting to the quarterback regularly as of late, bringing down the signal caller three or more times in nine of its last 14 games. Over that span, the Crimson Tide has tallied 37 sacks and recorded at least one sack in 13 of those 14 games. Alabama has 30 sacks in 12 games this year, which ranks tied for 26th nationally (2.5 per game) and fourth in the SEC.
EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: Explosive plays are a staple of one of the nation's most balanced and proficient offenses. The Crimson Tide coaching staff defines explosive plays as passes over 15 yards and runs over 12 yards. Alabama has 66 pass plays in 12 games this season of 15 yards or longer, including 39 of over 20 yards by quarterback AJ McCarron. Freshman Amari Cooper leads the receivers with 23 explosive receptions. On the ground, the Tide has 59 rushes of 12 yards or more, with T.J. Yeldon boasting a team-high 22 while Eddie Lacy is just behind with 20.
McCARRON SETS SINGLE-SEASON PASSING TD MARK: AJ McCarron's 25 touchdown passes is a new Alabama single-season record. He tossed a 29-yard strike to Christion Jones on Nov. 17 set the mark (No. 21). He surpassed the previous record of 20, set by Greg McElroy in 2010. McElroy's mark was set in 13 games that season; McCarron moved past it in 11 games.
McCARRON MOVING UP ON CAREER TD PASSES LIST: With four touchdown passes against Auburn, AJ McCarron now has 44-career touchdown passes. That total ranks second in Alabama history behind only John Parker Wilson (47 - 2005-08).
McCARRON PASSING TOUCHDOWNS: Over the last 15 games, junior quarterback AJ McCarron has been finding the end zone at a frequent rate, totaling 31 scoring tosses over that span. In nine of the last 15 games, McCarron has thrown two or more touchdowns. The signal caller has thrown two or more in seven of the 12 games this season, setting a new career high in multi-passing touchdown games. He has equaled his career high of four touchdowns three times during the span, against Western Kentucky, at Tennessee and vs. Auburn.
WINS PILING UP FOR McCARRON AT QB: AJ McCarron has started 25 games over the last two seasons at quarterback for the Crimson Tide. During that time he has compiled a 23-2 (.920) record and won a BCS National Championship. His 23 wins at Alabama are the sixth most, behind Jay Barker (35), Jeff Rutledge (33), Harry Gilmer (30), Pat Trammell (26) and Greg McElroy (25). His .920 winning percentage is second in Crimson Tide history, to only Jay Barker, who went 35-2-1 for a .934 winning percentage.
TWO-MINUTE DRILL: On November 3, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron displayed another weapon in his arsenal in a 21-17 comeback win over No. 5 LSU - the two-minute drill. He led the Crimson Tide on a pair of two-minute drives, one at the end of each half. He went a combined 7-for-8 passing for 109 yards and two touchdowns - one rushing and one passing. The drive at the end of the first half began at the 1:08 mark and went 54 yards on eight plays with McCarron running it in from nine yards out. The game-winning drive was even more impressive, covering 72 yards (5 plays) in just 49 seconds. McCarron found T.J. Yeldon on a screen pass that covered the final 28 yards and gave Alabama the win.
EFFICIENT IN PASSING GAME: AJ McCarron ranks second nationally in passing efficiency with a 176.26 mark. He has tossed 25 touchdowns with just two interceptions this season (265 pass attempts). He is completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,507 yards.
COOPER HAVING STELLAR FRESHMAN YEAR: Freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper is turning in a fantastic freshman season with a team-best 45 receptions for 767 yards and eight touchdowns. The eight receiving touchdowns ties for the third-most in a season in school history and is an Alabama freshman record. The Alabama freshman record for receptions and yards is held by Julio Jones, who caught 58 passes for 924 yards in 2008.
RUSHING TO SUCCESS: Alabama rushed 267 yards against Auburn on Nov. 24. Alabama is 48-0 since the start of the 2008 season when the Tide rushes for at least 150 yards. The Crimson Tide averages 84.57 yards per game (592 yards) in its seven losses since 2008 with the highest rushing total during those losses coming against Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game with 136 yards.
LACY LEADS RUSHING ATTACK: Junior running back Eddie Lacy has 1,001 yards rushing on 164 attempts in 2012 for an average of 6.1 yards per carry. He had a breakout game at Missouri on October 13 when he eclipsed the 100-yard mark on just his sixth carry of the game on the way to a career-high 177 yards while matching his career high with three rushing touchdowns. A significant chuck of his yards came on a career-long 73-yard score, the longest run for the Crimson Tide since Trent Richardson found the end zone from 78 yards out against Mississippi on Oct. 15, 2011.The Geismar, La., native has three 100-yard rushing games on the season and four for his career. He also has three straight games of at least 92 yards.
A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama has had one of the most balanced offenses in the nation over the past four years. That trend is continuing again in 2012 as the Crimson Tide has collected 2,570 yards rushing in addition to 2,626 yards passing, a difference of just 56 yards. Since the 2009 season, Alabama has passed for 11,449 while rushing for 10,747, a difference of just 702 yards.
YELDON SHINES IN DEBUT SEASON: Running back T.J. Yeldon is second on the team with 847 yards rushing on 129 carries with 10 touchdowns and a 6.6 yards per carry average. Yeldon became the first Alabama true freshman to rush for more than 100 yards in his debut in a win over Michigan, finishing the game with 111 yards on 11 carries and one rushing touchdown. Yeldon gained 144 yards at Missouri and followed that with 129 yards at Tennessee. He is the seventh Alabama running back to crack the century mark since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Mark Ingram was the last true freshman to gain at least 95 yards in his debut, running for 96 yards against Clemson in the 2008 opener at the Georgia Dome.
BALL PROTECTION: The Alabama offense has protected the football better than any team in the country over the last five years. In 66 games, the Crimson Tide has turned the ball over just 70 times (41 fumbles, 29 interceptions) for an average of 1.06 turnovers per game, better than Ohio State's second best average of 1.23 per game (79 turnovers, 64 games). Since 2009, that mark is even better as the Tide has turned the ball over just 51 times in 52 games (0.98 per game). Individually since 2009, UA starting quarterbacks have thrown an impressively-low 16 interceptions in 1,241 attempts (1 INT for every 77.6 attempts). The top two running backs in the rotation dating back to the 2009 season have only lost a fumble seven times. Over the 66-game span, the Tide's top two running backs have recorded 1,362 touches, losing the ball just once in every 194.6 carries.
Barrett Jones: VERSATILITY ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Senior All-American Barrett Jones started at right guard in 2009 and 2010, but added a few responsibilities to his resumé in the 2011 season. He started at left tackle and also saw snaps at left guard, right tackle and center last year. The winner of the Outland Trophy, Jones has started 48 games at the Capstone, including 25 at right guard, 11 at left tackle and 12 this season at center. Jones is listed among the top centers in the nation and a candidate for the Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award. In addition to being named the 2011 Outland Trophy winner, Jones also received the ARA Sportsmanship Award and the Wuerffel Trophy for his commitment to the community and academics.
O-LINE EXPERIENCE A KEY: The Alabama offensive line has been one of the most recognized and skilled groups in the country. Preseason magazines, including Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, rank Alabama's offensive line as the No. 1 unit in the country. Twelve games into the 2012 season, the line represents 155 starts, with senior center Barrett Jones claiming 48 of those starts. Chance Warmack has made 38 starts at left guard, while D.J. Fluker has 34 starts at right guard. Junior Anthony Steen has 23 at right guard while the newest addition, Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle, now has 12 starts to his credit.
Special Teams Notes
KICKOFF RETURN FOR A TOUCHDOWN: Christion Jones answered a Mississippi touchdown on Sept. 29, with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the first by a Crimson Tide player since Trent Richardson found the end zone from 91 yards at Duke on Sept. 18, 2010. The 99-yard return for a score tied for the eighth longest in school history. Jones is averaging 30.3 yards on six kickoff returns.
FOSTER DIALS IN FROM DEEP: With his career-long 52-yard field goal against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 22, Cade Foster became the first Alabama kicker since Neal Thomas in 2000 to connect on three 50-plus yard field goals in the same season. His 52-yard strike was the longest by a Tide kicker since Leigh Tiffin hit from 52 yards against Utah in the Sugar Bowl on January 2, 2009.
KICKOFF PROWESS: Alabama kicker Cade Foster recorded five touchbacks in the first half against Arkansas and six against Florida Atlantic on September 22. On Sept. 29, against Mississippi, Foster collected a career-high seven touchbacks while recording three at Missouri, four at Tennessee and three vs. Western Carolina. Twelve games into the 2012 season the Crimson Tide has already exceeded the entire amount tallied from last season, totaling 37 thus far. Kickoffs have been moved up to the 35 yard line this season.
MANDELL HAVING BIG SEASON: In his third season as Alabama's punter, junior Cody Mandell is enjoying his finest season for the Crimson Tide. He is averaging 44.1 yards per punt this season on 41 attempts. He has placed 14 of his 41 punts inside the opposing team's 20-yad line and has had 12 punts of more than 50 yards, including a season-long 61-yarder against Mississippi State and a 60-yarder against Texas A&M. Mandell is within range of compiling one of Alabama's top 10 seasons for punting average. He needs to averaged 41.9 yards per punt and have a minimum of 50 attempts to make the single-season top 10.
THE ALABAMA-GEORGIA SERIES: Alabama holds a 36-25-4 lead with Georgia in a series that dates back to 1895. The teams will meet for the 66th time this Saturday in the 2012 SEC Championship Game inside the Georgia Dome. Alabama won the last meeting between the two teams in 2008 in Athens, defeating the third-ranked Bulldogs, 41-30. Alabama's longest winning streak over Georgia is five games from 1949-53 and 1960-64. From 1949-54, Alabama had a six-game unbeaten streak, which included a scoreless tie in 1954. The Tide owns a 14-12 series lead in games played in Georgia. Alabama and Georgia have played five previous games in Atlanta, with UGA holding a 3-2 edge (1909, 1919, 1920, 1921 and 1942).
GEORGIA ON MY MIND: Alabama is 31-28-3 all-time in games played in the state of Georgia, including a 4-1 mark during Nick Saban's tenure at the Capstone. The Crimson Tide went 2-1 in the state of Georgia in 2008 with wins over Clemson (Georgia Dome) and Georgia (Athens) and a loss to Florida (Georgia Dome) in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama opened the 2009 season with a 34-24 win over Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome and defeated Florida 32-13 in the SEC Championship Game in the Georgia Dome. The Crimson Tide owns an 18-16-3 record in the city of Atlanta and has won eight of its last 11 games played there. Alabama is 13-10 in games played in Athens and 0-2 in Columbus. Alabama is also slated to open the 2013 season in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome against Virginia Tech.
CLASH OF THE TITANS: 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. Since 1982, Alabama and Georgia have won six SEC Championships, with four titles belonging to Alabama (1989, 1992, 1999 and 2009) and two to Georgia (2002 and 2005).
SMART NO STRANGER TO GEORGIA: Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart was a four-year lettermen at defensive back for the Bulldogs, where he was a first-team All-SEC pick as a senior. He finished his career with 13 interceptions, fourth in Georgia annals, and led the Bulldogs with six interceptions in 1997 and five in 1998. A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Smart earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Georgia and his master's degree from Florida State in 2003.
GEORGIA NATIVES: Alabama has 20 players on its football from the state of Georgia, including Jonathan Atchison (Atlanta), Dakota Ball (Lindale), Josh Dickerson (Evans), Xzavier Dickson (Griffin), Kenyan Drake (Powder Springs), LaMichael Fanning (Hamilton), Kurt Freitag (Buford), Brandon Greene (Ellenwood), Adam Griffith (Calhoun), Adrian Hubbard (Lawrenceville), Dillon Lee (Buford), Parker Philpot (Alpharetta), Polk (Lithonia), Austin Shepherd (Buford), Blake Sims (Gainesville), Geno Smith (Atlanta), Dalvin Tomlinson (McDonough), Brian Vogler (Columbus), Chance Warmack (Atlanta), Kellen Williams (Lawrenceville).
BROTHERS TO MEET IN GEORGIA DOME: Alabama freshman linebacker Dillon Lee and brother Dallas Lee, a junior offensive lineman for Georgia, will square off on opposite sides of the field on Saturday in the SEC Championship. Dillon has played in eight games as a true freshman, primarily on kickoff coverage, while Dallas has started in all 12 games for the Bulldogs, with 10 of those starts coming at left guard and the other two at right guard.
SEC Championship Notes
ALABAMA SEEKS 23RD SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: Alabama is attempting to win what would be an SEC-leading 23rd conference football championship when the Crimson Tide meets Georgia in the 2012 SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide has more SEC Championships than any other school but is seeking its first league title since 2009. Alabama won the first SEC Championship during the 1933 season as head coach Frank Thomas led the Crimson Tide to 5-0-1 conference record. Thomas led Alabama to four SEC Championships. Paul Bryant directed the Crimson Tide to six national championships and 13 SEC titles during his 25-year run in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won five straight SEC Championships from 1971-75 and captured eight of the 10 SEC Championships from 1970-79. In addition to Thomas and Bryant, Alabama has had five other coaches win SEC Championships, including Harold "Red" Drew (1953), Bill Curry (1989), Gene Stallings (1992), Mike DuBose (1999) and Nick Saban (2009). In addition to its 22 SEC Championships, Alabama also won four Southern Conference titles (1924, 1925, 1926 and 1930), giving the school 26 conference football championships.
ALABAMA MAKES 8TH SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME APPEARANCE: Alabama will be playing in its eighth SEC Championship Game as the 2012 SEC Western Division champion. The Crimson Tide won the SEC Western Division title with a 7-1 league record. Alabama also won the 2008 and 2009 SEC Western Division championships with a perfect 8-0 records. Alabama also won SEC Western Division Championships in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1999. The 2012 SEC Championship Game against Georgia marks the first time the Tide has played an opponent other that Florida. In 1992, Alabama defeated Florida, 28-21, in the inaugural SEC Championship Game at Birmingham's Legion Field. In 1999 and 2009, Alabama earned victories over the Gators in Atlanta. Alabama lost to Florida in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 2008 with the last three games played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
ALABAMA LEADS SEC WEST IN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME APPEARANCES: With its eighth SEC Championship Game appearance, Alabama has played in more title games than any Western Division team. LSU is second with five appearances, followed by Auburn with four, Arkansas with three and Mississippi State with one. Alabama's eight appearances rank second to Florida, which has appeared 10 times. Georgia is making its fifth appearance in the SEC title game and second straight. The Bulldogs are tied with Tennessee and LSU with the third-most SEC Championship Game appearances.
SABAN HAS BROUGHT TWO TEAMS TO ATLANTA: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is one of only two coaches in SEC history to bring two teams to the SEC Championship Game. In addition to his appearances with Alabama in 2008, 2009 and 2012, Saban brought LSU in 2001 and 2003. He is 3-1 in SEC Championship Games, leading the Crimson Tide to a 32-13 victory over Florida in 2009 and LSU to wins over Tennessee, 31-20, in 2001; and Georgia, 34-13, in 2003. Saban is the third Alabama coach to lead the Crimson Tide into the SEC Championship Game, joining Gene Stallings (1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996) and Mike DuBose (1999). Florida (Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer), LSU (Saban and Les Miles) and Auburn (Tommy Tuberville and Gene Chizik) are the only other schools to have more than one coach win the SEC Championship Game.
SABAN LOOKS TO JOIN ELITE COMPANY: Alabama head coach Nick Saban and former head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant are the only coaches in history to win an SEC Championship at two different schools. Bryant won 14 SEC championships during his 33-year SEC career, first at Kentucky (1946-53) in 1951 before winning 13 at Alabama (1958-82). Saban has three SEC Championships, leading LSU to the league title in 2001 and 2003 and then guiding the Crimson Tide to the 2009 championship.
DOME SWEET DOME: Alabama is 13-5-1 (.711) all-time in domed stadiums, including a 4-0 mark since 2009, and 5-2 in head coach Nick Saban's tenure. The Crimson Tide will be making its second appearance of 2012 in a dome this weekend after it played its season opener in Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 1. Alabama had one appearance in a dome last season in the BCS National Championship game, beating LSU, 21-0. Alabama did not play any games in a dome in 2010, but played two during the 2009 season, both in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome with the season opener against Virginia Tech (34-24 win) and the SEC Championship versus Florida (32-13 win).
51 NATIONAL TV APPEARANCES IN 67 GAMES: Alabama's appearance on CBS this weekend is the 51th nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. The Tide has played nine nationally televised games in 2012, with one game on ABC, five on CBS and three on ESPN. In 2011, Alabama played on CBS four times, while having one game on ABC, two games on ESPN and ESPN2 with one game on ESPNU. In 2010, Alabama had five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, two games on ESPN2, one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC, including the BCS National Championship Game, and six games on CBS while ESPN broadcasted two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcasted nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
ALABAMA'S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 201-127-4 (.611) all-time record in 332 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.
TIDE 60-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 60-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama had a 28-game winning streak snapped in 2010 against LSU. The first two losses came against LSU with the last loss to Auburn in 2010. In 2007, UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2010, UA led 10-3 at the half before the Tigers rallied for a 24-20 win at Tiger Stadium. The Tide lost 28-27 to Auburn to close out the 2010 season after leading 24-7 at the half. The Crimson Tide is 3-6 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 3-3 when tied at halftime. The three wins when trailing at the half came in a 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sept. 5, 2009, in Atlanta; a 24-15 victory over No. 9 LSU on Nov. 7, 2009; and a 24-20 win at Arkansas on Sept. 25, 2010. Alabama's three wins when tied at halftime came at LSU on Nov. 8, 2008, (a 27-21 victory), at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009 and against Tennessee on Oct. 22, 2011 (a 37-6 victory).
FRESHMEN IN ACTION: Alabama has had 11 true freshmen debut so far this season, including defensive back Landon Collins, wide receiver Amari Cooper, linebacker Denzel Devall, running back Kenyan Drake, linebacker Tyler Hayes, wide receiver Cyrus Jones, defensive lineman Darren Lake, linebacker Dillon Lee, linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive back Geno Smith and running back T.J. Yeldon. Alabama has also had 11 redshirt freshmen - tight end Brent Calloway, quarterback Phillip Ely, tight end Malcolm Faciane, running back Dee Hart, center Ryan Kelly, defensive lineman LaMichael Fanning, defensive end D.J. Pettway, wide receivers Marvin Shinn, defensive back Bradley Sylve, defensive back Jabriel Washington and receiver Danny Woodson Jr. Junior college transfer Deion Belue also started and played his first seven games with the Crimson Tide.
CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE: Alabama returned 43 lettermen from the 2011 National Championship team, but the Crimson Tide also boasts 21 players that played on both 2009 and 2011 championship teams. Looking a little deeper you find the Tide had eight players that saw action for both 2009 and 2011 teams. There were also three players that started at least two games in both 2009 and 2011, including Barrett Jones, Michael Williams and Nico Johnson. Below is a list of the 21 current players that were on both of Coach Saban's national championship teams at Alabama.
CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICANS: Since head coach Nick Saban became the Alabama head coach in 2007, he has had a knack for developing young recruits into All-Americans. Now in his sixth season at UA, Saban has produced the most consensus All-Americans in the nation with 11. Saban's consensus All-Americans include Antoine Caldwell (center, 2008), Andre Smith (offensive line, 2008), Terrence Cody (defensive line, 2008 and 2009), Rolando McClain (linebacker, 2009), Mark Ingram (running back, 2009), Mike Johnson (offensive line, 2009), Javier Arenas (cornerback, 2009), Mark Barron (safety, 2011), Dont'a Hightower (linebacker, 2011), Barrett Jones (offensive line, 2011) and Trent Richardson (running back, 2011). Second in the same time period is Oklahoma with nine, while Florida has registered seven in that five-year period.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama's success on the field over the past five seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide's success in the classroom. The 2012 squad features six players that already have degrees in hand, including Barrett Jones (August, 2011), Robert Lester (December, 2011), William Ming (May, 2012), Damion Square (May, 2012), Carson Tinker (August, 2012) and Michael Williams (May, 2012). Over the past five seasons (2008-12) Alabama has seen 58 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.
NICK'S KIDS: At Michigan State, head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, started the Nick's Kids Foundation, which the Sabans have continued in Tuscaloosa. Since their arrival at Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise more than $2.5 million for "Nick's Kids" that has been distributed to more than 150 charities and organizations throughout the state of Alabama.
GAMEDAY COACHING DUTIES FOR CRIMSON TIDE IN 2012: The Crimson Tide's assistants will be split between the coaches' booth and the sideline in 2012. Nussmeier, Burton Burns, Jeremy Pruitt and Thompson will be in the booth, while Kirby Smart, Chris Rumph, Jeff Stoutland, Bobby Williams and Mike Groh are on the sideline.
SCHOLARSHIP SENIORS: Alabama is tied for fourth in the nation with the fewest number of scholarship seniors as the Crimson Tide features nine heading into the 2012 campaign. The Crimson Tide was one of four teams in the No. 1 spot until long snapper Carson Tinker was awarded a scholarship by head coach Nick Saban on August 20.
FRESHMAN ACADEMICS: Over the past three years, Alabama has had a total of 29 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll recipients, which is a league best. The Crimson Tide was No. 1 in honorees for the 2009-10 season (12) and the 2010-11 season (11). Alabama placed six rookies on the 2011-12 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll including HaHa Clinton-Dix (Criminal Justice), Phillip Ely (Pre-Business), Ryan Kelly (Pre-Business), Cyrus Kouandjio (Pre-Business), Wilson Love (Pre-Business) and Vinnie Sunseri (Pre-Business).
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw eight former UA players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Trent Richardson (third overall to the Cleveland Browns), Mark Barron (seventh overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Dre Kirkpatrick (17th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals) and Dont'a Hightower (25th overall to the New England Patriots). Courtney Upshaw was next to go in the second round, and 35th overall pick, to the Baltimore Ravens. The Tide had two drafted in the fifth round with Josh Chapman going to the Indianapolis Colts as the 136th overall pick and DeQuan Menzie to the Kansas City Chiefs as the 146th overall pick. Rounding out the 2012 NFL draft for Alabama was Brad Smelley, who went in the seventh round as the 247th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns. Over the past two seasons, the Tide has had a combined eight first round draft picks, ranking Alabama fourth in most players selected over a two-year span. In the common draft era The Tide also came in a No. 4 on the most defensive players selected in the first round over a three-year span with six.