In what could be made into a movie, UGA lost twice to Alabama Football’s backup quarterback in 2018.
January 2018- “2nd and 26” National Championship: Alabama 26 UGA 23 OT
This was the first matchup between Nick Saban and his former assistant, Kirby Smart.
Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts took the Alabama Football team to the National Championship but could not get anything going for the Tide offensively against Kirby Smart’s defense. Kirby had Jalen’s number, and the offense was stagnant. The Tide trailed 13-0 at halftime.
Next, Nick Saban made the gutsiest call of his coaching career. He pulled his one-loss starter to the bench and started a freshman at quarterback. The tide changed. Defensive mastermind Kirby hadn’t prepared for the fiery freshman, and Tua Tagovailoa picked apart the Dawg defense.
The game went into overtime. UGA kicker Rodrigo Blankenship nailed a 51-yard field goal, something Bama certainly could not. Tua and the offense took the field. On his first possession, he took a sack. On the next play, he wrote his name in the history books forever with his 2nd-and-26 walk-off homer to Devonta Smith to win the game.
December 2018- Round 2: Alabama 35 UGA 28
This time, Kirby Smart was ready for Tua Tagovailoa. Tua was still not 100% dealing with a nagging knee injury. Then, with the Tide down by seven, Tua’s ankle was rolled up, and he left the game. In what could only be captured by a movie, Jalen Hurts, who chose to stay with the Tide despite being replaced, entered the game.
He took over quarterback duties in the same stadium, against the same team that he was benched against the prior season.
In a dramatic turn of events, Jalen tied the game then called his own number for the game-winning touchdown run. It was legendary and proved the power and importance of not giving up on your team.
In consecutive seasons, UGA led the game at halftime, then went on to lose to Alabama’s back-up quarterback.
Who knows what Saturday night will hold. Who knows if Nick Saban will be on the sideline. One this is certain… it will surely be another iconic game in what has turned into quite the rivalry.