All eyes were on Georgia in more than on way on Saturday as we finally got to see who would come out on top in the SEC and clinch a national title berth. Not only that, but we were treated to one of the finest and most entertaining SEC title games we’ve seen in some time.
The Bulldogs came out hard, fast and strong to start the game, jumping out to s 7-0 lead after a successful fake punt set up an Aaron Murray touchdown pass. The interesting part of the scenario was that Alabama had attempted a fake punt just prior to Georgia’s attempt and it failed miserably. That succession of plays started a momentum swing in the direction of the Bulldogs, but no one counted out the Crimson Tide for one second.
A.J. McCarron had a bit of a rough first half, throwing a crucial interception deep in the red zone which at the time would have tied the game, but the Crimson Tide eventually scored and then went up right before halftime after a controversial non-call.
The penalty wouldn’t have potentially been so massive is it hadn’t been for Nick Saban’s botched clock management at the end of the half. Quinton Dial blasted Aaron Murray on an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit that wasn’t called. The penalty wouldn’t have wiped out the interception Murray had jsut thrown, but it would have pushed the Tide back and likely would have forced the drive to end differently.
As defensive as the first half was, the offenses came alive in the second half, specifically Alabama running back Eddie Lacey who helped spark a Tide comeback and to re-energize his team.
Lacey’s heroics came after Georgia scored out of the half and Alec Ogletree blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown. With the Bulldogs up two scores, Lacey and his running-mate T.J. Yeldon helped power the ball down the field on two drives, with each back getting the ball into the endzone on successive drives.
Both backs also went over 100 yards rushing, something that Georgia head coach Mark Richt said would win the game. Yeldon and Lacey weren’t the only two running backs on the field on Saturday, as Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley ran north of 100 yards on the day as well, and unlike the dual back attack of the Tide, Gurley did it on his own.
The lack of defense continued into the fourth quarter, a quarter that saw both Alabama and Georgia score within two minutes of one another. But after that, the defenses returned with a vengeance, and we got the kind of SEC football we are used to. With the Bulldogs up by three points, Alabama stopped what could have been a fatal drive dead in its tracks tot get the ball back with a little over 5:00 left in the game. Within two minutes the Tide had a touchdown on a brilliant play action that gave them a four point lead.
It was then that the Tide defense came alive, allowing negative-8 yards on the Bulldogs next drive.
That was the final momentum swing of the game, as although the Bulldogs, who fought a valiant game and almost pulled the upset, couldn’t put together a last second drive that saw the Bulldogs come within 10 yards of winning the game. However Aaron Murray threw a pass well away from the sidelines and the endzone and with 0:08 left the Bulldogs had no chance to stop the clock.
With no timeouts, it will be much debated whether or not Georgia should have spiked the ball to stop the clock. They tried to catch the Alabama defense off guard but the play failed and cost the Bulldogs the game.
Whether you’re a fan of the SEC or not, you had to admit that this was an amazing game, and the fact that we had an SEC shootout was even more exciting and out of character for a conference known for defense. The question of who will Notre Dame play in the National Championship game has been answered, but the question of whether or not the Irish will have a chance just got a lot more complicated after an offensive battle decided who won the SEC.