What's at stake for Georgia as they face Alabama in the SEC Championship

    Can the Georgia Bulldogs take down their boogeyman, the Alabama Crimson Tide?

    (CNN)The 2021 NCAA college football season has looked a lot different than 2020: stadiums are packed with fans, the tailgates, the marching bands and the cheerleaders are back, too.

    All those things that the sport has sorely missed during the height of the pandemic will be on full display when the two best teams from the nation's best conference meet in what's become the sport's capital city in the last decade or so.
    It's top-ranked Georgia and third-ranked Alabama facing off in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and it doesn't get a whole lot better than this!

      Weathering stormy Tides

        Alabama has been the dominant force in college football for the last dozen years. The Crimson Tide have won six national championships and seven SEC titles under legendary coach Nick Saban.
        A tremendous 106 of their players have been drafted into the NFL in that span -- 38 of them in the first round. Six of those first round picks came from last year's squad, which steamrolled its way through a 13-0 season on its way to another national title.
        Losing all that talent to the NFL might cause some teams to rebuild, but not Saban and the Crimson Tide. They just reload.
          Nick Saban has won six national titles at Alabama since he took the helm in 2007.
          Alabama was the nation's top-ranked team and the national title favorite again as 2021 began, with a new quarterback under center in Bryce Young and a new offensive coordinator in Bill O'Brien.
          After a 2-0 start, they got all they could ask for in their first true road game at Florida. The Gators rallied from an 18-point deficit and had a chance to tie it with three minutes left but failed on a two-point conversion. 'Bama hung on for the 31-29 win.
          The Tide were 5-0 when they went to Texas A&M, and that's when their unbeaten run came crashing down -- Seth Small's last-second field goal giving the Aggies a shocking 41-38 win.
          Crimson Tide players were left wondering if their dreams of a national title were now over as they waded through the sea of A&M fans that had stormed the field celebrating the upset. But you can never underestimate the heart of a champion and that's what Alabama showed the rest of the way.
          They won five straight games, including a pair of narrow wins over LSU and Arkansas, to secure another SEC title game berth. But they wouldn't have stayed in the national title hunt without a comeback for the ages against in-state rivals Auburn.
          After struggling the whole game, Bryce Young led the Tide on a 97-yard touchdown drive in the final minute and 43 seconds to tie the game at 10.
          Young wasn't going to be denied in overtime. His two-point conversion pass broke the deadlock in the 4th extra period, giving 'Bama a win that seemed unlikely the first 58 minutes of the game.
          Bryce Young sparked Heisman talk after leading the Crimson Tide to a gritty victory over Auburn.
          Young's performance led many to consider him a top contender now for the Heisman Trophy and helped his team weather yet another storm.
          "Over the course of the season, I think sometimes when things have gone poorly, players have responded very well," Saban told reporters after the Crimson Tide's win over Auburn. "It's great to have the resiliency to overcome it, but you'd like to be able to sustain (it) with consistency, so you don't get in those situations."
          They'll need to find that consistency as they face their toughest challenge of the year against the Georgia Bulldogs.

          Dawg days are over?

          After winning a fourth national title in seven years as Alabama's defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart decided to leave his mentor and friend Nick Saban and take the head coaching job at conference rival Georgia in early 2016. The Bulldogs had been a good team (19 straight bowl appearances) but now they wanted to be great.
          Georgia's last national title was in 1980 and they've only won the SEC twice since 1982, but they believed Smart was the man that could take them to the promised land.
          Kirby brought his mentor's blueprint for success with him to Athens: a powerful defense, a solid running game