Alabama Football Begins Preparations for National Championship Matchup with Georgia

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama football team returned to practice field on Wednesday afternoon, working a 75-minute session in shorts and helmets at the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.

It was the first practice for the Tide since defeating top-ranked Clemson in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day to secure the school’s third consecutive national championship game appearance. Wednesday’s work marks the first of five practices prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. The final game of the college football season is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 8, and will kick off at 8:17 p.m. CT on ESPN with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit calling the game from the booth, along with Maria Taylor and Tom Rinaldi adding commentary on the sidelines.

The Southeastern Conference champion Georgia Bulldogs enter the College Football National Championship Game with a 13-1 overall record and a 7-1 mark in conference play. The Bulldogs clinched their championship berth with a 54-48 double-overtime victory over No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Georgia is led by second-year head coach Kirby Smart. A former Tide assistant, Smart has a career record of 21-6 with the Bulldogs across his two years.

The national championship pairing will be the 68th overall meeting of the two storied programs, with Alabama holding a 38-25-4 (.597) lead in the series that dates back to the 1895 season. The two teams have met once previously outside of regular season SEC play, with the Tide taking a 32-28 decision in the 2012 SEC Championship Game to claim the program’s 23rd SEC title and secure a spot in the national championship game. Nick Saban is 5-2 all-time against Georgia, including a 3-1 mark with the Tide, while Smart has not yet faced Alabama during his young coaching career.