Sports

Georgia eager to prove itself in SEC title game vs. Alabama

The national championship could be decided with a dream matchup between two of college football’s most storied programs: Notre Dame vs. Alabama.

Of course, Georgia might have something to say about that.

The third-ranked Bulldogs are eager to wake up some echoes of their own.

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Coach Mark Richt’s team will take on No. 2 Alabama in a Southeastern Conference title game that essentially serves as a national semifinal. The winner of Saturday’s contest at the Georgia Dome will surely land a spot against top-ranked Notre Dame in the BCS title game at Miami on Jan. 7.

While Alabama (11-1) is a 7-point favorite to remain on course for its third crown in four years, Georgia (11-1) wants to carve out its own legacy, something beyond the great teams of the early 1980s led by Herschel Walker.

‘‘We respect and honor those guys that played ahead of us, but we really need to give the fans something else to talk about,’’ linebacker Christian Robinson said. ‘‘If that’s all we have to talk about, we must not be doing anything special.’’

Georgia won its only Associated Press national title in 1980, Walker’s freshman year. The Bulldogs were in position to win another two years later, the running back’s final season between the hedges, but Penn State knocked them off in the Sugar Bowl.

Even though Georgia finished No. 2 in the AP rankings in 2007, this is its best shot at finishing No. 1 since the Walker era. If the Bulldogs win the next two games, they’re the champions.

‘‘This matchup is right on,’’ Georgia receiver Tavarres King said. ‘‘These are two great teams, two physical teams, that get after it every Saturday. It should be a fun game.’’

Stop option

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said the key to the 13th-ranked Seminoles (10-2) winning their 13th Atlantic Coast Conference championship and clinching an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl is shutting down Georgia Tech’s triple option offense in Saturday night’s conference title game in Charlotte, N.C. ‘‘It’s hard to simulate,’’ Fisher said of the Yellow Jackets’ third-ranked rushing attack (323.3 yards per game). ‘‘It’s one thing to do it in practice when you have your assignments, but we have to get used to the speed of it and how well they execute it.” Even with a loss Georgia Tech (6-6) is likely to land in a bowl game; the NCAA on Thursday granted the school a waiver to be bowl eligible if it finishes below .500 . . . Big Ten officials said Saturday’s conference title game in Indianapolis is unlikely to be sold out. The teams involved, Wisconsin and No. 14 Nebraska, usually have strong traveling contingents, but thousands of tickets have not yet been sold . . . Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the conference is at an ‘‘optimal size’’ and is unlikely to expand in the foreseeable future. The first year of the conference’s $3 billion, 12-year contract with Fox and ESPN brought in more money and exposure than the league ever had.

Charges dismissed

Minnesota State-Makato coach Todd Hoffner said he’s thankful to be ‘‘waking up from this nightmare’’ after a judge dismissed child pornography charges against him. Prosecutors charged Hoffner after cellphone videos of his three children were found on his university-issued cellphone. He and his wife argued the videos were innocent family moments of their kids doing a skit after a bath. A judge agreed, saying she found no evidence that the videos amounted to pornography, and dismissed the case. The school said Hoffner remains on leave pending its investigation. Hoffner said he wants to go back to work . . . A person familiar with the situation told the AP former NFL coach Jon Gruden has informed Tennessee he doesn’t want to be considered for its coaching job. The person — who spoke on condition of anonymity because the school hasn’t publicly discussed details of its search — said Tennessee initially reached out to Gruden late last week but there was never a contract offer or a discussion of financial terms. Tennessee fired Derek Dooley Nov. 18 . . . Trent Miles is leaving Indiana State to coach Georgia State, replacing the retiring Bill Curry. Miles has led the Sycamores to three straight winning seasons. Georgia State is moving to the Sun Belt Conference in 2013 . . . San Jose State is going to the Military Bowl. Game officials announced that the Spartans (10-2) of the Western Athletic Conference will face an opponent from the Mid-American Conference in the game at RFK Stadium in Washington on Dec. 27.

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