SECC Game notebook

Georgia and Arkansas will meet in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Saturday, Dec. 7 to battle for the Southeastern Conference Championship and the right to represent the conference in the Bowl Championship Series. The 11th annual game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports with kickoff set for 6 p.m. ET.

SECC Game History

The game is a result of conference expansion, which saw Arkansas and South Carolina become the first members added in SEC history. Under NCAA regulations, a conference with 12 members may play a 12th football game to determine its champion, provided the regular season is played in divisions.

The participants of the game are determined each year during the eight-game regular season conference schedule as the teams with the best overall winning percentage in each division. Georgia won the right to represent the Eastern Division with its 7-1 SEC record. Alabama finished the season on top of the Western Division, but due to NCAA sanctions cannot participate. Arkansas went through the SEC season at 5-3 and earned the right to represent the Western Division by defeating LSU and Auburn, which were tied with the Razorbacks for the Western Division title.

A total of 270 million viewers have watched the SEC Football Championship Game in its 10 years of existence. Last year's SEC Championship Game garnered a 7.9 rating, representing 29.5 million viewers. The highest rated SEC Championship Game was in 1994 (Florida 24, Alabama 23), when 31.2 million viewers tuned in, drawing a 10.5 rating.

The SEC Championship Game has also drawn capacity crowds in its history. More than 742,000 fans have witnessed first-hand the pageantry of SEC football at the 10 previous championship games.

Georgia, playing in its first SEC Championship Game, is the eighth different SEC team to play in the SEC title tilt. This year will mark Arkansas' second trip to the SEC Championship Game. In its first trip, the Razorbacks lost to Florida, 34-3, in 1995.

In the current agreement, the SEC Championship Game will be held at the Georgia Dome through the 2009 game.

* GEORGIA vs. ARKANSAS *

Saturday, Dec. 7, 6 p.m. ET
* Atlanta, Ga.
* CBS Sports
* Georgia Dome (71,963)

TELEVISION: CBS Sports will televise the game nationally for the first time (Verne Lundquist: Play-by-Play; Todd Blackledge: Analyst; Jill Arrington: Sidelines).

RADIO: the SEC Radio Network will broadcast the game to the 9-state SEC region (Dave Neal: Play-by-Play; Jeff Van Note: Analyst; Dave Baker: Sidelines).
Westwood One Radio Sports will broadcast the game around the nation (Chuck Cooperstein: Play-by-Play; Tom Walsh: Color).

Series

  • UGA leads series, 5-3
  • Georgia has won the last two meetings in the series (38-7 in 2000, 34-23 in 2001).
  • Only two of those meetings have been in the state of Georgia (both in Athens-1993, 2001).
  • The first four meetings in the series took place in bowl games - 1969 Sugar/ARK, 16-2; 1976 Cotton/ARK, 31-10; 1987 Liberty/UGA, 20-17; 1991 Independence/UGA, 24-15).
  • Since conference expansion, Georgia leads series, 3-1.

Last Meeting

UGA, 34-23 (Sept. 29, 2001 at Athens, Ga.)
Georgia accumulated 459 yards of total offense and David Greene threw for two TDs as the Bulldogs defeated Arkansas, 34-23. The only double digit lead of the game occurred on Georgia's last score when Greene hit Randy McMichael on a 4-yard TD pass to make the final score margin. Georgia led at halftime, 20-13, before Arkansas' Marvin Jackson returned a punt 74-yards for a TD to tie the score at 20-20. Greene finished the game completing 20-of-37 passes for 298 yards while Arkansas' Zak Clark completed 17-of-32 for 212 yards. Georgia RB Musa Smith rushed for 95 yards on 25 carries and one score.

Title Hopes for Hogs and Dawgs

Georgia will be attempting to get its 11th SEC title with a win against Arkansas while the Razorbacks will win its first SEC championship with a win over the Bulldogs. Georgia's last SEC football championship game in 1982, when the Dawgs went 11-1, falling to Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia has won six SEC titles outright and has tied for four others.

SEC Championship Game Notes

  • In 10 games, the average winning margin has been 14.0 points.
  • Three of the nine games have been decided by a touchdown or less (1992, 1994 and 1997).
  • In 10 games, the two participating teams average 47.2 points per game, while the winning team scores 30.6 points per contest.
  • More than 270 million viewers have watched the 10 previous SEC Championship Games.
  • In 1994, the SEC Championship Game earned a 10.5 rating and a 26 share, becoming the most-watched regular-season college football game since the 1991 season.
  • Three national champions have come from the SEC Championship Game. Alabama won the national title in 1992, Florida won the crown in 1996 and Tennessee claimed the honor in 1998.
  • There have been no shutouts in the history of the game. No team has been shutout in the first half.
  • The winning team has led at halftime in eight of the 10 previous games. In 1997, Tennessee came back to win (30-29) after trailing Auburn at halftime (10-20) and last season, LSU trailed 17-10 at halftime before defeating Tennessee, 31-20.
  • The 74,896 attendance at the 1997 Tennessee-Auburn SEC Championship Game is the largest in the eight games at the Georgia Dome.

Winning the Close Ones

One of the big reasons Arkansas and Georgia are in the SEC Championship Game is how they have fared in the close games. Both teams are in the Game because of last minute wins in its last conference games. Georgia used a 19-yard pass from David Greene to Michael Johnson with 1:25 left in the game to defeat Auburn, 24-21, and clinch an SEC Championship Game berth. Two weeks later, Arkansas' Matt Jones hit Decori Birmingham with a 31-yard TD pass with nine seconds left against LSU to lift the Hogs to a 21-20 win and an SEC Championship Game berth.

Below is how each team fared in the close games (decided by seven points or less):

ARKANSAS (3-1)
Oct. 5 lost to Tennessee, 38-41 (6 OT)
Nov. 16 def. La.-Lafayette, 24-17
Nov. 23 def. Mississippi State, 26-19
Nov. 29 def. LSU, 21-20

GEORGIA (5-1)
Aug. 31 def. Clemson, 31-28
Sept. 7 def. South Carolina, 13-7
Oct. 5 def. Alabama, 27-25
Oct. 12 def. Tennessee, 18-13
Nov. 2 lost to Florida, 13-20
Nov. 16 def. Auburn, 24-21

Basketballers Going Head-to-Head

Not only will the SEC Championship Game feature two football teams, but SEC basketball teams will be represented as well. Arkansas QB Matt Jones and Georgia WR Fred Gibson are on their team's respective basketball rosters.

Jones played in 11 games last year as a freshman on the Razorback basketball team, starting twice. He averaged 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He scored a season-best 8 points and had four rebounds against Alabama.

Last year as a freshman on the Bulldog hoops team, Gibson played in 18 games, all off the bench, averaging 4.9 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. He scored 13 points at Florida, including six points in the game's final 51 seconds to help the Bulldogs defeat Florida, 84-79.

Non-Repeat Matchups

This year will mark the first time since 1998 that the SEC Championship Game will not feature teams that had played each other during the regular season. In fact, the only repeat matchups from the regular season have been the last three seasons - Alabama vs. Florida in 1999, Florida vs. Auburn in 2000 and LSU vs. Tennessee in 2001.

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