TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Heading into Saturday's SEC Championship Game between top-ranked Georgia and No. 3 Alabama, the Crimson Tide is experiencing something that fans don't witness all too often.
For the first time since 2015, Alabama is entering a game as an underdog.
As of Tuesday, the Bulldogs are a 6.5-point favorite to beat the Crimson Tide in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ironically enough, the last time that Alabama was an underdog was also against Georgia way back in 2015 — a game that the Crimson Tide ultimately won 38-10.
That game was six seasons ago and on Tuesday, two Alabama players made it known that being an underdog isn't something that the team is focused on at this moment in time.
“It’s not often that Alabama’s on the other side of that but hey, we just gotta control what we can control," offensive lineman Evan Neal said. "[We’re] approaching this game like any other game. We’re approaching this game with intentions to win. Obviously Georgia’s a great team. Probably one of the best defenses that we’ve saw all year so we just gotta prepare. Just prepare, prepare, prepare all week. Take it one day at a time so that when it’s Saturday we can go out there and execute.”
Defensive back Jordan Battle echoed Neal's sentiments.
“As far as me, I don’t really look at it as an underdog," Battle said. "I feel like it’s just another game. Obviously Georgia is No. 1, obviously they are a great team. They have a great defense, have a great offense and I feel like in this game we just have to make them one-dimensional like our plan going into every other game.”
Heading into the 2015 Alabama upset of Georgia, the Bulldogs were a one-point favorite to win. This season, the line is 5.5 points higher than that. While Georgia is widely regarded as the top team in the nation, Alabama looks much better on paper than those outside of Tuscaloosa might be aware of.
In total defense, Georgia is ranked as the top team in the nation having given up an average of 229.7 yards per game. Alabama ranks seventh on that list, giving up 294.2 yards per game.
In total offense, the Crimson Tide takes the advantage by being ranked seventh with 492.2 yards per game. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, sit at No. 27 with 442.5 yards per game.
Georgia might garner more attention due to its stifling defense, but when it comes to the offensive side of the football, Alabama has the edge. In fact, the Crimson Tide is the only team that is ranked in the top-10 in both categories.
Alabama might not be the favorite to win, but that doesn't seem to have fazed its players in either direction. The only thing that both Neal and Battle emphasized was that the team needs to remain focused in order to build intensity for the challenge this weekend.
"But I don’t feel like us being an underdog is motivating to us," Neal said. "I just feel like us being competitors and us wanting to go out and just win and just be who we are, I feel like that’s what motivates us.”