Tide Facing A Wounded Bulldog

Just a few weeks into the football season, the issues of luck can be addressed. Not the kind of luck like a lucky bounce or a lucky official's call, the kinds of things that a coach disdains.

Former Alabama Coach Paul Bryant talked about "Schedule Luck" and "Injury Luck," two things beyond his control.

Thus far, Coach Nick Saban has been lucky on both fronts. At least since the Crimson Tide is 3-0 you could consider it lucky.

To be sure, there have been a few injuries. No football team goes unscathed. But thus far the Tide has been able to manage when a player has been unable to play. Thus far all projected starters have been able to start each game.

More interesting this week is the matter of schedule luck. Both Alabama and Georgia scheduled Western Carolina for a victory. Although Western Carolina coaches and players reportedly said that Georgia better in beating the Catamounts 45-16 last week than Bama had been in whipping WCU 52-6 two weeks earlier, that is not a concern.

Georgia has also beaten Oklahoma State, an impressive 35-14 decision to start the season. But in between, the Bulldogs lost a home game, a Southeastern Conference game, to Steve Spurrier's South Carolina squad. It was 16-12 in Athens with the home team failing to score a touchdown.

Alabama played a stronger than expected Vanderbilt team in its second game of the season and picked up a tasty road conference win, 24-10. That was a game in which the Crimson Tide was in complete control.

Last week was quite a different story for Bama. It took every ounce of energy and all but eight seconds of the 60-minute contest for the Crimson Tide to emerge with a 41-38 win over an Arkansas team that looks like it will win a lot of games.

Because Alabama got wins over two conference teams that appear to be stronger than expected in the pre-season, that is a bonus. Almost all pre-season polls had Arkansas and Alabama neck-and-neck for third place in the SEC Western Division. Now Bama has the tie-breaker. (Additionally, the team generally selected to finish second, Auburn, is in a bit of a hole.)

Now Alabama gets its opportunity for a fourth straight victory and a third consecutive conference win in a home game. Not to compare Georgia and Arkansas in style, both were expected to be high-middle in their SEC divisions. That makes it a game Bama definitely should be able to win.

With its home loss to South Carolina, Georgia probably sees itself as having bad schedule luck. Going against a Saban team in Bryant-Denny Stadium at night can't appear to be the best way to right the ship. Georgia doesn't want to start out 0-2 in SEC play.

So Georgia has its back to the wall, a team in a desperate situation. It is also a team that may have some anxiety, some lack of self-confidence.

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