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First Quarter Open Thread: We Got ‘Bama.

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NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We may not want the Tide.

But we’ve got ‘em just the same.

If Georgia is going to take the next step, to become the dominant program in the SEC, Kirby Smart and his team are going to have to beat Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. And that’s always going to be hard. They’re always going to be good. They’ll likely always be the favorite. Until they aren’t.

The Bulldogs have the talent to hang with the Tuscaloosans. They have an offense capable of testing the Crimson Tide defense downfield and right up the gut. But the execution of that offense will have to be flawless. Turnovers? Not an option.

Defensively, the road to victory starts up front. Somehow we need to get around or through the line that’s given up the fewest sacks in the SEC to get in the face of the Heisman-favorite quarterback. No big deal.

And on special teams we need Hot Rod at his Roddiest, putting every kickoff out of reach of Bama’s explosive returners and getting three points every time he and the field goal team are asked. You can’t beat this Bama team with field goals. But you can lose to them by throwing up goose eggs at the end of drives.

We need Jake Camarda to have his most consistent game of the season. And it wouldn’t hurt at all to return a kick or two to set up the offense with short fields. It’s been hard to score on this Tide defense when you have to go all the way down the field. We could use the help.

Another subtle necessity? Avoiding penalties. Bama is not going to get penalized a lot in this one. Their staff coaches against penalties well and, one suspects there’s a little subliminal bias as well. We can’t control whether the refs throw the flag on the Tide. We can control the stupid substitution, offsides, and late hit penalties that have dogged the ‘Dawgs at times this year. Scratch that. We must control them.

In short, it’s all gotta go right at the right time if we’re going to finally put a rock between Goliath’s eyes. But that’s never going to change. Saban’s eventually going to get out-Sabaned by one of his former protégés. Might as well be Kirby Smart. Might as well be today.

Go ‘Dawgs!!!