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Why Herschel Walker is right for wanting Georgia to play, and beat, Alabama in 2019

Connor Riley

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Why Herschel Walker is right for wanting Georgia football to play and beat Alabama in 2019

When Georgia players spoke on Tuesday at the 2019 SEC Media Days, they made it a point to not mention Alabama. The Crimson Tide have beaten Georgia in each of the last two seasons, both in painful one-score defeats so it makes sense as to why reporters would try to find out how the Bulldogs have coped with those results.

When defensive back J.R. Reed was asked specifically about getting another chance at Alabama in 2019, he sidestepped the question completely and instead stated Georgia’s 2019 team goals.

“I want another crack at the SEC and I want another crack at the national championship,” Reed said. “I don’t care who it is or what opponent is, I just want to another chance to win an SEC championship and a national title.”

Reed is correct in the sense that Georgia shouldn’t be focused on any single opponent, especially one that is not actually on the schedule. The 1980 jokes aren’t going to stop if Georgia does beat Alabama but still end up not winning the national championship.

But not everybody shares that stance.  Georgia great Herschel Walker stated on Tuesday that he is outright rooting for Georgia to make it out of the SEC East and Alabama to prevail in the SEC West.

That way the two teams meet in Atlanta and the Bulldogs once again have a chance to beat the team that has so often ruined a potentially huge win.

“If I’m a Georgia player that’s what I want,” Walker said. “Because you want to run the gauntlet, I want Alabama, because you’ve got to go through Alabama to do it.”

Walker added that the Bulldogs should look back and use the last two defeats as motivation. He also brought up that the mentality that Clemson spent all of 2018 thinking about the Crimson Tide. There were even reports that while prepping for Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff, the Tigers were also working on gameplans for Alabama.

The Tigers showed the Crimson Tide are very beatable, as Clemson demolished Alabama in the most recent national title game. Given that Alabama ended Clemson’s undefeated season in 2017, the victory had to feel all that much sweeter for Dabo Swinney and his team.

RelatedWATCH: Herschel Walker discusses what Georgia has to do beat Alabama

No team ever starts the season thinking about taking down a team that denied them a championship. But there have been some recent examples of championships being sweeter because of a team that the winner beat along the way.

After coming agonizingly close in 2013 to beating the Miami Heat, the San Antonio Spurs came back and throttled Lebron James and company in 2014. And after James and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in 2015, the 2016 victory over the Warriors was seen as one of the great moments in recent sports history.

However, a more comparable modern example to what Georgia has gone through might be the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Like Georgia, the Boston baseball team had a lengthy championship drought — 86 years compared to only 39 for the Bulldogs. The Red Sox were also tormented by a regional rival, the New York Yankees. When Boston seemed on the cusp of getting to the World Series in 2003, the Yankees stormed back and ripped Boston’s hearts out with an extra-inning home run by Aaron Boone in game seven of the 2003 ALCS.

But in 2004, the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS against the Yankees to advance to their first World Series since 1986. Then Boston swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win its first title since 1918.

If you were to ask most Red Sox fans — and I consider myself one — they’ll tell you that beating the Yankees in 2004 was more memorable than actually winning the World Series. Maybe people would feel differently about the season if St. Louis had ended up winning it all.

Even though Georgia isn’t slated to play Alabama, if the Bulldogs are going to win a national title there is a good chance they will need to beat the Crimson Tide. Since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007, all but one national title winner has either beaten the Crimson Tide or been Alabama. That was Florida State in 2013.

Related: WATCH: Alabama players agree, Georgia ‘toughest team’ Tide faced last season

Reed is right for wanting to avoid mentioning the Crimson Tide. Walker does make some valid points in wanting to see Georgia meet up and dethrone Alabama. Georgia winning a national championship would be considered a huge success for this season and is still the main goal.

But beating Alabama — and Kirby Smart thus becoming the first former Saban assistant to beat him — would also be a sign of success and show progress. Maybe Georgia can accomplish both tasks like the 2004 Red Sox and make 2019 a truly special year in program history.

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