SEC Championship: Ten things to know

Ten things you need to know about Saturday’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta between the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) and No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (11-1):

1. This is the first SEC Championship Game between teams coming off a win in which they both scored at least 40 points.

2. Contrary to what most might guess, Georgia Coach Mark Richt has outperformed his Alabama counterpart, Nick Saban, in career win percentage (.750-.733) and 10-win seasons (8-7) and both have seven bowl wins. Saban does have a distinct edge in one category – national championships (3-0).

3. Alabama QB AJ McCarron has made a huge leap in his deep-throw completion percentage this season. He is completing 65 percent of passes thrown 20 yards or longer. Last season he completed 39 percent of passes thrown 20 yards or more.

4. Georgia QB Aaron Murray leads all FBS quarterbacks in passing efficiency and comes to this game on a roll with 13 TD passes and no interceptions in his past four games.

5. The SEC Championship Game has been anything but competitive. Since 1998 alone, only one of the games has been decided by fewer than 10 points and the average margin of victory in the 14 games is 19 points. The past two SEC championships were decided by 39 and 32 points.

6. Big-play showdown: The Georgia offense had 75 plays that gained 20 or more yards this season. That ranked seventh among all FBS teams. Alabama’s defense, on the other hand, allowed only 32 plays of 20-plus yards. That was the sixth-fewest total in FBS.

7. Two players who might matter a lot: Georgia LB Jarvis Jones (he tied for the FBS lead in tackles for loss at 1.95 per game and was fourth in sacks) and Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley (only perfect kicker in FBS among qualified players, 60-for-60 on extra points and 10-for-10 on field goals).

8. Both teams average more than 7 yards on first-down plays (only eight other FBS teams can claim that) and Alabama and Georgia are two of four FBS teams that average more than 11 yards per pass play on first down.

9. Georgia is 2-8-1 since 1990 in games against teams ranked among the top three in the AP poll. In the past four seasons, Alabama is 4-2 against top-five teams and 18-5 against teams ranked in AP Top 25.

10. Presumably, Notre Dame and the BCS Championship Game awaits the winner. Georgia is 1-0 all-time against the Irish, winning the 1981 Sugar Bowl behind Herschel Walker’s two touchdowns and 150 yards rushing to claim the school’s only national championship. Alabama is 1-5 against Notre Dame but the schools haven’t played each other since 1987.