Now is the time for Mark Richt, and the best coaching matchups of the weekend

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Mark Richt

It's all here, waiting to be taken. Everything Mark Richt has yet to accomplish in his decade and a half at Georgia - SEC and national supremacy in the same season - sits ripe on a vine, waiting to be plucked and devoured.

First, the SEC East. Down for half a decade now, this year's edition has devolved mostly into a quagmire of mediocrity. Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina - all are good enough to beat each other any given Saturday, but none are good enough to beat all of them every Saturday. Then there's Vanderbilt, plucky enough defensively to snatch an upset victory at any point this season, but the Bulldogs have already passed that test. All but Georgia and Florida have already taken on conference losses, and Florida hosts Ole Miss on Saturday night.

There's the SEC at large. Auburn and Arkansas have already removed themselves from championship consideration, but each still retains enough talent to throw the SEC West race into chaos. Georgia can effectively eliminate Alabama on Saturday. Ole Miss, LSU and Texas A&M remain undefeated, but each still have to play the other two, and Alabama, and one of Auburn and Arkansas. After Saturday, the only SEC West opponent remaining for Georgia is 0-2 Auburn.

Then there's the national scene. No one, undefeated and defending national champion Ohio State included, is invincible. Most major players are just trying to survive the season in one piece. It's the type of season where a potential SEC champion could beat only one ranked team and still skate into the College Football Playoff.

And, finally, there's the opponent on Saturday. Alabama is an underdog for the first time this decade, and with good reason. The Tide haven't been this vulnerable on both sides of the ball since Nick Saban's first season in Tuscaloosa.

The Tide's offense averages north of 35 points per game but its revolving door of quarterbacks ranks 84th nationally in passing efficiency, and only Auburn (seven) has thrown more interceptions than Alabama's six. Alabama ranks 45th in rushing and 32nd in yards per carry, well behind Georgia in both categories.

Defensively, Alabama feasted on Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Monroe, but struggled against Ole Miss. The same way it struggled against Ohio State, Auburn, Texas A&M and Oklahoma before that. Georgia's passing game isn't as developed as those Tide killers, but its running game is just as good, if not better.

Georgia is favored Saturday, and it deserves to be.

Richt has been here before, to the heights of college football. He won the SEC in 2002, the same year Ohio State dethroned defending champion Miami in an instant classic. He won the SEC again in 2005, the same year Texas dethroned defending champion USC in an instant classic. His two-loss 2007 team may have been the best in the country in the same year another two-loss SEC team won the national championship. He came one play short of an almost assured national championship against Alabama at the peak of its powers.

Richt has also been here before, hosting Alabama as a favorite. That game ended in disaster. Well, more accurately, it started that way. The Tide scored on all its non-kneel down drives to take a 31-0 halftime lead before winning 41-30. That night, with the black jerseys and the funeral prophecy, officially gave rise to the crimson dynasty that Georgia can officially end on Saturday.

Richt and Georgia have been here before, and the skies have parted for them in a way they never have before and likely never will again. How will they handle it this time?

Other enticing coaching matchups of the weekend:

Oklahoma OC Lincoln Riley vs. West Virginia DC Tony Gibson: Oklahoma sliced up Tulsa but looked very mortal for most of the game against Tennessee. How will they fare against the nation's No. 1 scoring defense?

Arkansas HC Bret Bielema vs. Tennessee HC Butch Jones: It makes too much sense that these teams meet each other in this week. Two teams with conference championship dreams to start the year, and one of them will be 0-2 in the SEC before their head hits the pillow on Saturday night.

Florida HC Jim McElwain vs. Ole Miss DC Dave Wommack: Eighty percent of Florida's offensive line two-deep are freshman and sophomores. Ole Miss has the best defensive lineman in college football. If this is close, it's a win for the Gators' coaching staff.

Texas Tech HC Kliff Kingsbury vs. Baylor HC Art Briles: Texas Tech fell to Baylor 48-46 last year, the first step of momentum the Red Raiders used to emerge from the wreckage that was the 2014 season. But that game was 45-20 with 17 minutes to play. There will be no sneaking up on the Bears this time. This will be an interesting measuring stick for the Texas Tech coaching staff in seeing how they can mend a gameplan around Patrick Mahomes's gimpy knee and the entire team's broken hearts.

Cincinnati OC Eddie Gran & PGC Darin Hinshaw vs. Miami DC Mark D'Onforio: So far, so good for Miami's coaching staff, but the last thing they need is to lose to an American team a week before visiting Florida State. Hayden Moore threw for 557 yards in relief last week in Memphis? How does he fare now that a more talented defense comes in prepared to face him?

Clemson OCs Jeff Scott & Tony Elliott vs. Notre Dame DC Brian VanGorder: Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson started slower than expected against a soft opening schedule. Now would be a great time for new coordinators Scott and Elliott to let it all hang out against the most ferocious front they'll see all season.