By Tim Letcher
SEC Digital Network
Two of the SEC's most storied programs meet in the SEC Championship game on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, when No. 2 Alabama faces third-ranked Georgia.
The game will be the renewal of a rivalry that dates back to 1895. The teams have met 65 times overall, with Alabama holding a 36-25-4 advantage in the series. Saturday's game marks the fourth time that the teams have met with both being ranked in the top ten nationally.
However, the schools that produced legendary names like Bear Bryant, Vince Dooley, Herschel Walker and Mark Ingram, have not met since 2008. In that game, the Crimson Tide won 41-30 in Athens behind two Glen Coffee rushing touchdowns. Matthew Stafford had a big game for the Bulldogs, passing for 274 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The rivalry started on November 2, 1895 when Georgia beat Alabama 30-6 in Columbus, Ga. The Crimson Tide first claimed victory in 1904, winning 16-5 in Tuscaloosa.
The two schools met 51 times between 1895 and 1965, including every year from 1941-65. From 1959-65, the game was the season opener for both teams.
There have been many significant moments in the rivalry. In 1960, Alabama topped Georgia 21-6 in the first-ever televised college football game by ABC Sports. The win was th first of 11 in a row by the Tide, who later captured Bryant's first national championship.
In 1962, a young quarterback named Joe Namath made his Crimson Tide debut in a 35-0 win over the Bulldogs in Birmingham. On his first career passing attempt, Namath hit Richard Williamson with a 51-yard touchdown pass.
The 1964 game was the first in the rivlary for Dooley, and he saw Namath account for 222 yards of total offense in a 31-3 Alabama win.
The 1965 game had a bit of controversy, when Georgia, trailing 17-10 and facing second-and-eight from its own 27, executed a hook-and-ladder play to win the game. Quarterback Kirby Moore passed to Pat Hodgson, who then tossed to Bob Taylor, who went the distance for the Bulldog touchdown. Alabama's sidedline felt that Hodgson's knee was down before he tossed to Taylor, but the call stood. And if that weren't enough, Georgia went for two, and Moore connected with Hodgson to lift Georgia to an 18-17 victory.
The 1976 matchup was a battle of top ten teams in Athens. The famous "Junkyard Dawgs" defense shut out Alabama 21-0. Bulldog quarterback Ray Goff had a solid game for Georgia.
In 1985, Alabama trailed Georgia 16-13 with 50 seconds left, when Mike Shula marched the Tide 71 yards in five plays, culminating in a 17-yard touchdown pass to Al Bell, lifting Alabama to a 20-16 win in the season opener in Athens.
The 1994 game between the schools was one for the ages. Alabama rallied from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit, capped by a 32-yard field goal by Michael Proctor as the Tide escaped with a 29-28 win. Jay Barker had a huge game for the Tide, passing for 396 and a pair of scores. Georgia's Eric Zeier passed for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
After a seven-year break, the schools met again in 2002, and it was another classic. Billy Bennett kicked a 32-yard field goal with 38 seconds left, giving No. 6 Georgia a 27-25 win over 22nd-ranked Alabama.
The 2007 meeting between the two teams was the first to go into overtime. In the extra period, Leigh Tiffin kicked a 32-yard field goal to give Alabama a 23-20 lead. However, on the first play of Georgia's OT possession, Stafford connected with Mikey Henderson from 25 yards out, stunning the Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd and lifting the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs past the Tide 26-23.
Saturday's meeting marks another milestone in this rivalry, as it will be the first meeting between the two schools in the SEC Championship Game. Of course, if there had been an SEC Championship Game during the time of Bryant and Dooley, there would have been at least 10 meetings between the schools.
From 1971-82, Alabama and Georgia won every SEC championship. The teams shared the title in 1981. Alabama won SEC titles in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1981. Georgia claimed championships in 1976, 1980, 1981 and 1982.
Saturday, one of them will claim another SEC title, as well as a bigger prize, a spot in the BCS National Championship Game in Miami.
Last 10 meetings
Date Score Site
1984 Georgia 24, Alabama 14 Birmingham
1985 Alabama 20, Georgia 16 Athens
1990 Georgia 17, Alabama 16 Athens
1991 Alabama 10, Georgia 0 Tuscaloosa
1994 Alabama 29, Georgia 28 Tuscaloosa
1995 Alabama 31, Georgia 0 Athens
2002 Georgia 27, Alabama 25 Tuscaloosa
2003 Georgia 37, Alabama 23 Athens
2007 Georgia 26, Alabama 23 Tuscaloosa
2008 Alabama 41, Georgia 30 Athens