ATLANTA — The last time Alabama played in the Georgia Dome, the Crimson Tide whipped Tim Tebow's Florida Gators and won the program's first SEC title in 10 years.
The players enjoyed a shower of confetti after the dominating 32-13 victory, and for a little while at least, they celebrated their championship as if nothing else mattered.
So, if you're wondering if Alabama will look past Georgia today and peek ahead just a little to Notre Dame and the BCS National Championship Game, consider that day in 2009.
"I was a freshman that year, and in a way, the SEC Championship Game was more fun than the national championship game," senior linebacker Nico Johnson said. "It's a great place to play, and it's a great game."
That memory appears to have motivated the Tide players old enough to be part of it, as No. 2-ranked Alabama (11-1) faces No. 3 Georgia (11-1) today in the Georgia Dome.
Four current Tide players appeared in that 2009 game, including Johnson, safety Robert Lester, offensive lineman Barrett Jones and tight end Michael Williams.
"We remember how that game felt," Williams said.
Today also is a chance for Alabama to gain a bit of redemption from a year ago. Even though the Tide won the national championship, it didn't qualify for the SEC Championship Game. LSU beat Georgia in last year's game.
"It was a big deal for our team because that was one of the goals this year and now we have a chance to go out the same way we came in and as a senior unit and a leadership group, that's what we try to do," Williams said. "That's what we strived to do this season."
Lester played on special teams in 2009, making one solo tackle in the win over Florida.
"Just the title of it being the SEC championship makes it such a huge game," he said. "Two SEC teams, two of the top SEC teams battling against each other in the Georgia Dome, what else can you say about it?"
And as for 2009, he added, "We played against a Florida team that had Tim Tebow, that was almost perfect. And they came out and made plays and we were ready for that game and played a great game."
Senior offensive guard Chance Warmack played in five games in 2009, but didn't appear in the SEC Championship Game. He is from Atlanta and is eager to get a chance to play in his hometown.
Also, he will play against Georgia for the first time. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs haven't played each other since 2008.
"Ah, man, people have been calling me since right after the Auburn game," Warmack said. "It's an exciting thing for me and for my teammates who are from Georgia. This is another type of game that you hope for.
"I had never played against Georgia before. I wasn't here in 2008. I'm happy that everything arranged itself for me to play Georgia this year."
Alabama coach Nick Saban has coached in this game four times, winning with LSU in 2001 and 2003 and Alabama in 2009 and losing with Alabama in 2008.
"To me, in all those games that I've been a part of, this is about as good as any game in the country other than the national championship game," Saban said.
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