SEC Championship Game Preview: The Common Opponents

Joe Robbins

Taking a look at how the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs did against the teams they both played.

Typically during the week leading up to the SEC Championship Game, we'd do some in-depth study of how the game's participants did against the opponents they had in common. I'll still do that here, but it's not as crucial this time around as normal.

The reason is simple. Alabama and Georgia have only four common SEC foes (forget FAU; that's less than worthless to study here), and none of them finished better than fifth in their respective divisions. Two fired their coaches, only one squeaked into bowl season at 6-6 overall, and they combined for six total SEC wins. Some of the foundation for the complaints about these two teams' strength of schedule comes from the fact that neither played anyone decent from the opposite division.

So here goes nothing, in alphabetical order. YPC is yards per carry; YPA is yards per (pass) attempt.

AUBURN

AU is a winless team in SEC play with a fired coach. You bet there's tons to learn here.

Category Georgia Alabama
Points 38 49
Points Allowed 0 0
Yards 497 483
Yards Allowed 238 163
YPC 6.9 5.7
YPC Allowed 2.1 2.9
YPA 8.3 9.8
YPA Allowed 8.2 4.7
Pass Eff. 181.49 210.65
Pass Eff. Allowed 128.2 46.43

Both of these teams summarily dismissed the Tigers, and they did so without giving up a point. Alabama gets an edge if there is any to be given for scoring more and giving up less, but there's nothing here for us. The Auburn season was basically over by the time these two got to play the Plainsmen, Gene Chizik was a dead man walking, and anything less than grisly blowouts would have been cause for concern. Let's just keep moving.

OLE MISS

This is actually the best team that both of these two played. Yes, that Ole Miss.

Category Georgia Alabama
Points 37 33
Points Allowed 10 14
Yards 533 305
Yards Allowed 234 218
YPC 3.3 3.7
YPC Allowed 1.6 2.3
YPA 13.7 6
YPA Allowed 6.7 4.2
Pass Eff. 237.34 145.73
Pass Eff. Allowed 121.76 74.52

In this comparison, UGA comes out ahead. The game against the Rebels was the first one where Bama could be said to have struggled to any degree. It was the Tide's first time trailing this year, though that lead for Ole Miss lasted mere seconds before it switched back again. Meanwhile Aaron Murray had a spectacular day for Georgia, throwing for about 80 more yards than Alabama gained in the entire game.

MISSOURI

Here is the comparison table for this opponent, but there are some notable caveats that apply.

Category Georgia Alabama
Points 41 42
Points Allowed 20 10
Yards 355 533
Yards Allowed 371 129
YPC 3.2 7.7
YPC Allowed 2.6 0.1
YPA 6.9 8.1
YPA Allowed 6.6 4.3
Pass Eff. 143.51 144.59
Pass Eff. Allowed 127.31 64.08

Georgia played Missouri in Week 2, when the Tigers were at full strength. Alabama played Mizzou in the middle of the season when the Tigers were fighting a plague of injuries, most notably the one to James Franklin that put a freshman quarterback in the line of fire. Alabama probably still gets the edge here because of the degree to which it dominated MU, but the very different circumstances make a direct comparison more difficult.

TENNESSEE

If Ole Miss was the comparison that definitely goes in Georgia's favor, here's the one that goes in Alabama's.

Tennessee Georgia Alabama
Points 51 44
Points Allowed 44 13
Yards 560 539
Yards Allowed 478 282
YPC 7.2 5.2
YPC Allowed 4.9 2.9
YPA 11.1 13.9
YPA Allowed 6.2 6.5
Pass Eff. 187.81 254.11
Pass Eff. Allowed 107.12 93.72

Both offenses had a grand old time firebombing Tennessee's awful defense, but only Georgia allowed the Vols to fire back. UGA's defense went through a bit of a midseason swoon, and this was probably its swoon-iest game. While Bama walked all over Tennessee from the start, Georgia never could quite put UT away for good. This is not just a "win" for the Crimson Tide in the comparison game, it's the biggest win that either team has. That said, UGA's defense has turned things around quite a bit since its performance in this game.

OVERALL

Alabama wins on the Tennessee comparison and kind of leads on the Missouri comparison. Georgia won the Ole Miss comparison. They were about equal in their dominance over Auburn. If anything can be drawn from this, it's a slight edge to the Tide, but again, there's only so much to be gleaned from the two division winners beating up on the divisional doormats.

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