TUSCALOOSA — Following last year's Iron Bowl blowout in Auburn, Alabama could only sit back as voters and computers decided its fate in the BCS title landscape.
But this season, the second-ranked Tide are content with taking matters into their own hands. Their 49-0 walloping of Auburn on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium sealed the SEC West and a coveted berth in next week's conference championship contest.
Now, the only obstacle standing in Bama's way of playing for its third title in four years is beast of the East Georgia. The top-three showdown will be next Saturday in Atlanta at 3 p.m.
“We must finish,” said defensive back Dee Milliner, who recovered a fumble and broke up two passes in this year's Iron Bowl. “We've been harping on that all the time. Going against Georgia for the SEC championship, it's going to be a great game, competitive on both sides of the ball.
“It's an honor, and I'm just looking forward to it. We've got to focus in and hopefully come out with the win.”
Following a 9-6 overtime loss to LSU in 2011, the Tide needed every ounce of help it could get to get back in the title hunt. All the pieces eventually fell into place in the third to last week of the regular season, as No. 2 Oregon fell to USC, and Iowa State shocked the nation by upsetting No. 4 Oklahoma State.
Alabama found itself in a frighteningly similar situation this year, appearing down and out after a disappointing loss to freshman phenom Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M on Nov. 10. Hope was restored only one week later, however, when the whole town of Tuscaloosa exploded at the sight of No. 1 Kansas State being clobbered by unranked Baylor and No. 2 Oregon dropping to Stanford in an overtime thriller.