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In the SEC, Georgia, Alabama trying not to look ahead

(MCT) — CHICAGO — On the other side, there is a crystal football trophy and a fleet of visible-from-the-exosphere gold helmets. In the meantime, there is the business of earning the title of best team in the nation’s most rabid, swaggering conference.

There are those who might argue either Georgia or Alabama playing for a national championship is a bit redundant after playing for the Southeastern Conference title. Those people are known as SEC football fans, and while the game participants might not share their sentiment, looking past Saturday would be like shrugging at a coming tornado.

“If you need any added motivation to be a champion in any way, shape or form, something’s wrong with you,” Georgia receiver Tavarres King said. “If we win this game, we’re SEC champions. That alone is enough motivation for us to get after it this Saturday.

“We do know what lies ahead. We win this one, and we’ll have the opportunity to play Notre Dame.”

Ah, yes, unbeaten and No. 1 Notre Dame, a team that likely will not forfeit Jan. 7 out of paralysis by awe. What the Irish did last week — playing one game for a shot at a title — is the same balance Alabama and Georgia will attempt to achieve this week.

The difference being both programs navigated that dynamic sometime in the last two decades.

“We know this game is big because it can help us get to the next game,” Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner said. “We’re just trying to focus in on this one game and do the most that we can do to help ourselves out.”

And how does a team treat this like another game when the SEC championship is basically a religious spectacle, with the opportunity to maintain world dominance at stake?

“Why try to do so much more for the last game if you didn’t do it the first 10, 11 games?” Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “If that’s the case, you didn’t do all you could from the get-go.”

That’s the sanitized (and Saban-ized) party line for Alabama, though Mosley noted that the regular Thursday sessions in which the Crimson Tide’s leaders speak about relevant experiences would be particularly useful this week.

Georgia, meanwhile, must learn from stepping into a sinkhole last year and watching LSU detonate for 42 unanswered points to win.

“We were just simply excited to be there and didn’t realize what we could have done,” linebacker Christian Robinson said. “We didn’t finish like we wanted to. That’s been dwelling on our minds since.”

Notre Dame is on their minds only in an accidental way: There is the SEC title to win, and then a BCS title to win, and the Irish will happen to be there.

“It’s way too early,” King said. “We know it’s out there, but our main focus and objective is winning this game and winning the SEC championship.”

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