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Tony's Top Five: Before biggest Tide-Dawgs game of all, a look back at rivalry

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Given what is at stake, Saturday night's SEC championship game between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia is the biggest football game the schools have ever played against one another. SEC title preview: Alabama-Georgia

And for two schools that share a common conference (SEC) and a common border, Georgia and Alabama really haven't played each other that much.

From 1941 to 1965, Alabama and Georgia met every season but one, 1943, when Alabama did not field a team because of World War II. But in 1966, the SEC changed its scheduling format. As a result, Georgia and Alabama have met only 14 times in the past 47 years.

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Still, there have been a lot of memorable games between the two. Here are only a few:

1964: Vince Dooley's first game as Georgia's head coach was against Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Dooley, the former assistant at Auburn, was 32 years old. "I was absolutely convinced we were going to win," said Dooley, now 80 and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Alabama won 31-3 and went on to win the national championship.

1965: Alabama led 17-10 in Athens and looked like it was going to hold on. But Dooley called a trick play, the "flea-flicker." Quarterback Kirby Moore threw a pass into the flat to tight end Pat Hodgson. Hodgson bobbled the ball (Alabama fans thought his knee was down) but then pitched back to running back Bob Taylor, who was trailing the play. Taylor took it 73 yards for a touchdown and then Dooley called for a two-point conversion. Moore found Hodgson in the back of the end zone and Dooley had his first signature victory at Georgia, 18-17, against Bear Bryant.

1976: Alabama was in the middle of one of the greatest runs in college football history -- the Crimson Tide won 116 games and three national championships from 1971-81. Alabama had won five consecutive SEC championships when it went to Athens and lost 21-0. Georgia was the only school other than Alabama to win an SEC championship in the 1970s.

1985: Georgia thought it had beaten Alabama in Athens when it blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown with 50 seconds left. But Mike Shula took his team 71 yards in only five plays and threw a touchdown pass to Albert Bell with 15 seconds left to give the Crimson Tide a 20-16 victory.

1994: Despite a record-setting performance by Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier, Alabama's Jay Barker threw for 396 yards and Michael Proctor kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:12 remaining to give the Crimson Tide a 29-28 victory in Tuscaloosa.

2002: A few days before the game, former Auburn coach Pat Dye, a Georgia graduate, said he didn't think Georgia "was man enough" to go to Alabama and win. But Billy Bennett kicked a 32-yard field goal with 38 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a 27-25 victory and snap Georgia's seven-game losing streak in Tuscaloosa.

2007: Georgia came back to Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2002 and the game went into overtime. Alabama kicked a field goal on its possession to take a 23-20 lead. On Georgia's first play in overtime, sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a 25-yard touchdown strike to Mikey Henderson and Georgia won 26-23. It was Nick Saban's first season at Alabama.

2008: Georgia began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and entered its game with Alabama on an 11-game winning streak. Georgia decided to hold a "blackout" and wear its black jerseys. Alabama and Saban gave notice that it would be a contender for the national championship that season and for seasons to come by jumping out to a 31-0 lead at halftime and winning 41-30. That was the last time Georgia and Alabama met.

Here is the rest of Tony's Top Five for the last Saturday of the regular season:

Can Kansas State wrap up the Big 12?

The reality is that if No. 6 Kansas State (10-1) had not stumbled at Baylor on Nov. 17, Bill Snyder's Wildcats would be a victory against Texas away from playing for the BCS title. Now K-State will have to settle for a Big 12 championship and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl, probably against No. 5 Oregon. A loss to Texas (8-3) could send the Wildcats to the Sugar Bowl to play Florida, unless No. 17 Kent State wins the MAC and gets an automatic BCS slot. Then Kansas State would probably land in the Cotton Bowl. But the most pressure is on Texas, which got beat at home pretty solidly by TCU on Thanksgiving night. An 8-4 record would make for another uncomfortable offseason for Mack Brown, who has vowed to return the Longhorns to football prominence. Top 25 preview: Texas at Kansas State

How excited will FSU be for ACC championship?

It's hard to be bitterly disappointed about a 10-2 season, but that's exactly where Florida State is. A 17-16 loss to North Carolina State on Oct. 6 essentially knocked the Seminoles out of the discussion for the BCS title. Then a 37-26 loss to Florida last week in Tallahassee sent the Seminoles to the ACC championship game with Georgia Tech (6-6) on a definite downer. Georgia Tech didn't even expect to be in this game a week ago, but Miami (Fla.) decided to self-impose a postseason ban for the second successive year. Upsetting Florida State would certainly take some heat off coach Paul Johnson, but a 7-6 Georgia Tech team in the Orange Bowl, potentially against Kent State, can't make the folks in South Florida very excited. ACC title preview: Florida State-Georgia Tech

Nebraska tries to get back to Pasadena

I know this is true because I looked it up but I still don't believe it: The Nebraska football team has not played in a BCS bowl since the 2001 season when Cornhuskers got taken to the woodshed by Miami, 37-14, in the BCS title game played in the Rose Bowl. In the past 10 years, there have been a lot of Alamo and Holiday bowls, with a Cotton or Gator mixed in.

Now the Cornhuskers (10-2) have a chance to win the Big Ten in only their second season of membership if they can beat Wisconsin (7-5) on Saturday night in Indianapolis.

A victory against the Badgers, who are here because Ohio State and Penn State are on probation, would send Nebraska back to the Rose Bowl to play the winner of the Pac-12 championship game between Stanford and UCLA.

This will be the third time in the past four seasons that coach Bo Pelini has reached a conference championship game. In 2009, the Cornhuskers lost a controversial 13-12 decision to Texas in the Big 12 championship game. In 2010, Nebraska lost to Oklahoma 23-20 in their Big 12 swansong. In 2011, Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Nebraska beat Wisconsin 30-27 on Sept. 29 in Lincoln. Big Ten title preview: Nebraska-Wisconsin

Can TCU finish strong?

TCU's first season in the Big 12 looked like it was going to be less than memorable when the Horned Frogs lost 36-14 at Oklahoma State to drop to 5-3. But in the past three weeks, TCU has beaten West Virginia (39-38) on a two-point conversion, lost to No. 1 Kansas State by a very respectable score of 23-10, and gone to Austin and dominated Texas in a 20-13 game that really wasn't that close. Now coach Gary Patterson, whose name is coming up for a number of jobs, has a chance to close out the season with a home victory against No. 11 Oklahoma (9-2). A loss could bump Oklahoma out of an at-large BCS bid, but not a whole lot of people are going to feel sorry for the Sooners, who have given up 97 points and 1,268 yards in their past two victories against West Virginia (50-49) and Oklahoma State (51-48).

Watch The Tony Barnhart Show on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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