ATHENS, Ga. -- If Georgia can hang with Alabama through the first half of Saturday's Southeastern Conference football championship game in Atlanta, the Bulldogs should pull away in the third quarter.
At least that's what the numbers show.
While the Crimson Tide have been superior to the Bulldogs this season in the first, second and fourth quarters, Georgia has been decidedly better in the third. The Bulldogs have scored 155 points and allowed 27 during the first 15 minutes after halftime, while Alabama's edge is a more modest 51-24.
"I guess we've made some adjustments and played well coming out in the second half," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I think a lot of it is the fact that when we win the coin toss, we defer to the second half. We've gotten the ball for one more possession in the third quarter because we are the ones getting the ball first. We've won a lot of coin tosses.
"As far as this game, I don't know if it means a whole lot, really. I think every series is going to be very, very important."
Georgia scored 14 third-quarter points last week in putting away Georgia Tech, and the Bulldogs have scored 21 third-quarter points against Florida Atlantic, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Georgia Southern. The only game in which Georgia didn't outscore its opponent in the third quarter was the 35-7 loss at South Carolina, when the Gamecocks extended their 21-0 halftime lead to 28-0.
Alabama, however, had a seven-game stretch in which it totaled just 13 third-quarter points. The Crimson Tide failed to score in the third against Ole Miss, Missouri, Mississippi State and LSU, and they had only a field goal against Texas A&M.
The Tide scored third-quarter touchdowns the past two weeks against Western Carolina and Auburn after leading each of those games 42-0 at halftime.
"I was really pleased with the way we came out this last particular game and started the second half," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "I think that's something we need to continue to emphasize. We do a good job of giving them a lot of information at halftime, but we have to be able to go out and execute when the other team makes some adjustments as well."
A different world
Two years ago, a big crowd for John Jenkins at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College was 10,000. On Saturday, Georgia's senior nose tackle will be playing in front of more than 75,000 in the Georgia Dome and at least 12 million viewers on CBS.
"I'm just trying to enjoy the moment," Jenkins said. "You always have to think about the journey, and it was a long journey here. A lot of people took us out when we lost to South Carolina, and now we're in one of the biggest shows in America.
"This is close to the Super Bowl, so I'm just trying to enjoy everything that comes with it."
Richt vs. Saban
Richt has a 2-3 career record against Saban, going 1-2 against his LSU teams and 1-1 against his Tide teams.
"Back in the LSU days when we were playing them, they were more apt to blitz and pressure people, play press coverage and maybe not as much help on the back end," Richt said. "Now they tend to line up a little more often in more of a two-shell defensive look, and they'll play coverage a little more. They put the pressure on by having four beasts up front that they don't really need to blitz with.
"They are a little bit more apt to play coverage than they did in the past. In the past, they would try to bring one more than you could block and try to knock the quarterback out and tell their DBs to lock up and take care of business."
Odds and ends
Alabama's fourth-year seniors have a career mark of 47-5, and they need two more victories to tie the NCAA four-year record set by Nebraska (1994-97) and matched by Boise State (2006-09). ... Saturday afternoon's official kickoff time on CBS is 4:10. ... Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell (shoulder) and cornerback Damian Swann (neck) were limited in Tuesday's workout. ... Alabama and Georgia have met once before as top-three teams, with the Bulldogs winning 21-10 in 1942. That game also was held in Atlanta, but at Grant Field. ... Richt on whether the recent success of his up-tempo offense could affect the Crimson Tide the same way Texas A&M did: "I don't know if it was the tempo they had problems with as much as Johnny Manziel. He creates problems for everybody because he can scramble like he can."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...