Quick Bit: Alabama and Georgia will likely be favored in every game they play this season, but that doesn’t mean we will see the Tide and Bulldogs meet as undefeateds in Atlanta.

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Alabama and Georgia met in the SEC championship game and College Football Playoff championship in 2021.

Guess what? The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are heavy favorites to do it all over again in 2022. Sporting News has Alabama and Georgia back in the College Football Playoff in its Preseason Bowl Projections. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs received 349 of 359 first-place votes in the SEC media poll.

Will Nick Saban and Kirby Smart square off in the SEC championship for the third time in five years? Is there anything that could get in the way of two 12-0 teams meeting in Atlanta?

Here are five scenarios where the all-too predictable final answers won’t come true.

MORE: SEC predictions, order of finish, best transfers, more

A September stunner

Georgia, the defending national champion, is a 17.5-point favorite in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game against Oregon. That seems like an absurd line given the Bulldogs lost 15 players to the 2022 NFL Draft. The Ducks also have former Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning as their new head coach.

Remember last season when Oregon was a 14.5-point underdog against Ohio State? The Ducks still have enough talent to make it close, and that will be even more interesting if former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix is the one to pull it off. After all, it was Nix who beat Oregon 27-21 in a neutral-site thriller at Jerry World on Aug. 31, 2019.

Alabama heads to Texas a week later for a Big Noon Kickoff that will dominate Week 2 headlines. The Longhorns, led by former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, have an offense that scored 35.2 points per game last season. Quinn Ewers, Bijan Robinson and Xavier Worthy could be one of the best dynamic play-making trios in the FBS. Texas pushed eventual national champion LSU in a 45-38 shootout on Sept. 7, 2019. Can they do the same here against the most-talented roster led by Bryce Young and Will Anderson?

Likelihood: The Ducks and Longhorns both might cover, but it’s hard to pick an outright upset this early, even if these games offer high entertainment.

Kentucky or Texas A&M win division

According to the SEC Media Poll, these are the biggest threats to beat either Georgia or Alabama within their respective divisions.

MORE: SN’s 2022 All-America team Bowl projections

Do you believe in Kentucky? The Wildcats have emerged as the next-best SEC East program under Mark Stoops, and they do get the Bulldogs at Kroger Field on Nov. 19.

The bad news? Kentucky is 0-9 against Georgia under Stoops, and they have lost those games by an average of 21.8 points. Only one of those nine games was decided by single digits.

Texas A&M, of course, will engage in arguably the best conference game of the season when it travels to Alabama on Oct. 8. The back-and-forth between Saban and Jimbo Fisher this offseason is the window dressing for what should be a winner-takes-the-SEC-West type game.

Yes, Johnny Manziel shocked the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2012, but the Aggies have lost the last four meetings there by an average of 32 points.

That’s not the worst part. It’s a regular-season revenge game, a term Saban despises but has dominated in the SEC. The Crimson Tide are 13-2 against SEC opponents the year after losing to them in the regular season, and they have won those games by an average of 11.5 points per game.

Likelihood: The Alabama-Texas A&M game will be fun and Georgia-Kentucky could be winner-takes-the-division, but those trends say these could be double-digit victories for the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs.

Alabama hits road pothole

Alabama’s SEC road schedule is not easy.

The Crimson Tide have road trips to Arkansas (Oct. 1), Tennessee (Oct. 15), LSU (Nov. 5) and Ole Miss (Nov. 12).

We’ll talk more about the Vols in a bit, but the other three road games could add up. The Razorbacks were 6-1 at home last season – the lone loss a 38-23 head-scratcher against Auburn – and they went shot for shot in a 42-35 shootout with the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium last season.

Ole Miss was 7-0 at home, and this is yet another chance for Lane Kiffin to finally knock off Saban. It also comes after the LSU game, which would be Brian Kelly’s all-in game for his first year.

Likelihood: This is the best chance for a Crimson Tide loss. Alabama could slip up on one of these four potholes, but consider their last losses at Arkansas (2006), Tennessee (2006), LSU (2010), Ole Miss (2014). Saban has lost one game in those places in the CFP era.

Florida ruins Cocktail Party

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It’s still a rivalry game, and there is an unknown at work given this will be Florida coach Billy Napier’s first go at it. Four of the last six Florida coaches beat Georgia in their first try, a run that started with Steve Spurrier in 1990. The Gators won that one 38-7.

Napier has an outstanding track record from his time at Louisiana, and the key variable is quarterback Anthony Richardson’s development. Smart is 4-2 in this rivalry game, and the Bulldogs will be heavy favorites after throttling Florida 34-7 last year.

It’s still a rivalry game, however, and stranger things have happened.

Likelihood: That is a lot to ask from Florida, which is coming off a two-win season in SEC play. Georgia will be a heavy favorite before a telling November run.

Mike Leach special or Tennessee twist?

Georgia and Alabama have four common SEC opponents: Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Not to short-change the Commodores or Tigers, but the Volunteers and Bulldogs offer better bets for upsets here, even if those odds will be tough.

Tennessee is one of the chic teams of the 2022 offseason. The Vols have a high-scoring offense, and Hendon Hooker has emerged as a sleeper Heisman Trophy candidate.

The Vols are at Georgia, where they last won in 2016 on a last-second Hail Mary – which was Smart’s first season.

Saban is a perfect 15-0 against Tennessee, a streak that is on the line at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 15; a week after the Vols play at LSU.

Then there’s Leach, who no doubt will let Will Rogers fire away against the Crimson Tide on Oct. 22 and at Georgia on Nov. 5. The last two Alabama games have not been close – Mississippi State has been outscored 90-9 in those losses. They did, however, hang in there in a 31-24 loss to Georgia in 2020.

Likelihood: Tennessee has the best chance to upset the order among these teams, but there is a huge difference between offseason hype and beating your rivals.

Verdict

Alabama and Georgia have yet to meet in a 12-0 vs. 12-0 game in the SEC championship. The Crimson Tide slipped up against Texas A&M last season, and Georgia lost to LSU in 2018. Both teams were 11-1 when they met in 2012.

The SEC championship game has featured two unbeaten teams only one time, when Alabama faced Florida in a battle of 12-0 teams in 2009.

So, one of those scenarios above could hit where at least one team loses one game. Still, we’re betting that Alabama and Georgia meet in that circumstance again, where the winner gets in the College Football Playoff and the loser could still back-door in the playoff.

From there, another CFP championship rematch is entirely possible.

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