The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 32-28 in a game for the ages. The win gives Alabama the SEC Championship and a ticket to Miami to play Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship.
It was a slugfest all the way to the final seconds of the game, with each team throwing the kitchen sink at the other.
“This was the most exciting, biggest win,” Saban said after the game. “We did a good job competing to come back against a very good Georgia team.”
Alabama was sluggish to begin the game, making mental mistakes including a fumble and an interception by AJ McCarron. Still the Alabama defense played tough, and it was the first scoreless first quarter in SEC title game history.
Georgia took advantage behind quarterback Aaron Murray, who went 18-of-33 for 265 yards and one touchdown. Still, Alabama rallied, and the Bulldogs trailed 10-7 at the half.
The Crimson Tide asserted itself on the ground in the second half. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon combined for 334 yards and three touchdowns, and wore down the Georgia defense. Lacy was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.
“Coming from the injury and having the success with the help of my teammates, I’m just happy right now, ” Lacy said postgame.
Georgia reclaimed the lead in the third, and began to pull away after a Cade Foster field goal was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Alec Ogletree. That made the score 21-10.
Alabama answered with a 10-yard score from Yeldon, who scored the two-point conversion on the next play to pull the Crimson Tide within three.
Crimson Tide fans were agonizing when defensive star Jesse Williams crumpled to the ground holding his knee. He left the field and it looked as if his day was done. However, he returned to the game and led the blocking on an Eddie Lacy touchdown from one yard out that gave the Tide the lead.
Georgia reclaimed the lead on a Todd Gurley run, making it 28-25. Gurley finished with 122 yards on the day and two touchdowns.
Alabama took the lead for good on a 45-yard pass from AJ McCarron to freshman Amari Cooper. The extra point made it 32-28.
Georgia had no quit in them, and got the ball one final time with under two minutes to go, and no timeouts. Murray took the Bulldogs down the field and had a first-and-goal with 15 seconds to play, but a tipped pass led to a catch by Chris Conley, who fell down at the four. Time expired on the Bulldogs drive and finished their championship dream.
“We kept telling them that’s what we trained them to do,” Saban said. “We played for sixty minutes.”
Alabama now has a few weeks to rest and prepare for Notre Dame. It will be hard to top this game for sheer drama, but the historic nature of a Crimson Tide-Fighting Irish matchup already has fans and sports media salivating.