For Alabama football, Atlanta has become a home away from home. The Crimson Tide has won 12 of its last 13 games in Atlanta.
If Georgia was playing anyone but Alabama football, playing in Atlanta would give the Bulldogs an advantage. Tickets are split evenly between the two schools in the SEC Championship game. Georgia’s 70-mile proximity to Atlanta is an advantage but not a huge one. Tuscaloosa is only about 200 miles away. Playing in its home state, re-sells in the secondary market may tilt the crowd more red than crimson.
But the Alabama Crimson Tide has the biggest advantage playing in Atlanta. Alabama football rarely loses in Atlanta, particularly in this century. Going back to Aug. 30, 2008, the Crimson Tide is 12-1 in Atlanta. The impressive run began with a beatdown of Tommy Bowden’s Clemson team. The most recent win was, of course, one of college football’s greatest games – one the Georgia Bulldogs would like to forget but can’t.
The lone blemish in the 13-game run came against Urban Meyer’s Florida team in 2008. A year later Nick Saban and Alabama football settled that score. Neither Florida nor Urban have been the same since.
In the 12 victories, Florida has been beaten most often, three times. Georgia and Virginia Tech have lost twice to the Tide in Atlanta. Losing once each are FSU, Washington (in the CFB Playoff), West Virginia, Missouri and Clemson.
Tracing back the long history of Alabama football, Atlanta has not always treated the Crimson Tide so kindly. The Alabama football record against Georgia Tech in Atlanta is dead even, 15-15-3. That football series goes back to 1902, though the teams have not met since 1984. Many seasoned Tide fans know Tech coach, Bobby Dodd had frequent success against the Tide. Probably not as many remember the last Yellow Jackets coach to beat the Crimson Tide was Bill Curry.
The Crimson Tide did not fare so well early on in the Georgia Dome. Alabama football lost its first two Georgia Dome visits in 1994 and 1996, both to Florida in the SEC Championship.
Speaking about the Crimson Tide’s comfort zone in Atlanta, Brad Nessler said a couple of years ago,
I think they are comfortable here. I bet you they stay at the same hotels, I bet they go through the same routine, whether it’s the first game of the season or the SEC Championship or the playoff.
Even with those Saban-controlled consistencies, the ultimate home feeling comes from winning. There is no question the Alabama football team feels comfortable winning in Atlanta.