Mark Richt doesn’t want to talk about Georgia being the favorite over Alabama.

Instead, when asked about his Bulldogs being the pick instead of the Crimson Tide for Saturday’s showdown between the hedges – the first time in the last 72 games that a Bama team has been an underdog – Richt instead threw bouquets in Tuscaloosa’s direction.

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Alabama “is as good or better than they’ve ever been,” he said with a straight face. And then followed it up by adding “they’re as good or better than anybody in our league, and as good or better than anybody in the country.”

He really said those things. But, that’s just Mark Richt being Mark Richt.

As we all know, he’s a good and honorable man, and never one to say anything disparaging that could be used against him and his team. So go right ahead coach, work your magic and try to lull the Tide into a false sense of security about itself.

But what Richt said isn��t true. Alabama isn’t anywhere near as good as it’s been in the last five years. That’s not to say that Nick Saban doesn’t still have great talent on hand, as he always does. The problem is Bama hasn’t responded to Saban the way a majority of his other teams have in the past.

Now, even if Richt wants to deflect the talk about being the favorite and all that goes with it, the fact remains that the Dogs are expected to win this game.

They are home – impending monsoon be damned – they are ranked higher, 8th to Alabama’s 13th, and quite honestly, they have played better than Alabama so far this season. As we know though, when it comes to Richt and Georgia, none of that matters.

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Winning big games has never been their thing. And in truth, this game actually might be bigger for Alabama because of the conference loss that’s already on their record courtesy of Ole Miss. A second defeat in Athens on Saturday would basically render the Tide a non-factor in early October.

A Georgia loss wouldn’t be nearly as debilitating for the Bulldogs, because they could still end up winning the SEC East and the conference title game. After all, it’s not like their schedule is loaded with stiff competition.

But the time is now for Mark Richt to remove the elephant from the room. And Alabama is a rather large and imposing Goliath, at that. While the “Black-Out” loss of 2008 and the 2012 SEC title game defeat are the two setbacks that stick out most, it’s worth noting that the Dogs haven’t beaten a Top-15 Tide team since 1976.

So, while the meeting might actually mean more for Alabama in the current scheme of things, make no mistake about something: all of the pressure is on Georgia. This game gives the Dogs the opportunity exorcize some of their demons.

And when you think about it, when was the last time that Georgia won a “big game?”

Go ahead and keep mulling that one over.

That’s why this one is so important.

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And why Mark Richt doesn’t want to talk about being the favorite.