Alabama Football closed the curtain on the divisional era of the SEC the same way they started it: with a conference championship.
The SEC first split into two divisions, East and West, and hosted its first conference championship game in 1992. Bama triumphed over Florida in that classic inaugural title game en route to a decisive national title under head coach Gene Stallings.
Ever since, the SEC Championship has been kind to the Crimson Tide. Bama has won 11 SEC Championships, far and away the most in the conference, including a remarkable nine wins under Coach Nick Saban.
Saban and Alabama lost the 2008 SEC title game to eventual national champion Florida in his second season at the helm, but has gone on an unprecedented winning streak in Atlanta since that day.
Alabama Football takes home the last ‘real’ SEC Championship
Bama’s 27-24 win over Georgia marked the end of an era in college football’s premier conference. In 2024, Texas and Oklahoma will join the league, and the divisions we have come to know will be dissolved. Additionally, the 12-team playoff will be introduced for the first time. The SEC Championship Game, as it currently exists, will be no more.
The meaning, importance, and pageantry of the game will never be the same. Previously, the SEC Championship has always been a play-in for the College Football Playoff, and has served as a launching point for the eventual national champion on several occasions.
With 12 teams getting into the playoff starting next year, the SEC title game won’t carry nearly as much importance. Traditionally, the top-12 has included as many as three or four SEC teams, and the two championship game participants will almost certainly be in every year.
How Alabama Football continued its dominance in Atlanta
Bama won its 11th SEC title in spite of a subpar offensive performance. The Tide amassed a season-low 306 yards of total offense on 4.8 yards per play. Jalen Milroe appeared to be out of rhythm for much of the game, but made the big plays when they counted. These included two touchdown passes and some huge runs to extend Alabama drives.
The defense ultimately won this game for Alabama Football. It held Georgia’s offense, which ranked in the top-10 nationally in nearly every major statistical category, to 321 yards on 5.4 yards per play.
UGA’s 24 points tied its season-low, while its total yards, yards per play, and rushing yards (78) were all season-lows by a wide margin.
The Bama defense sacked Carson Beck twice and forced the game’s only turnover on a Trezmen Marshall fumble recovery. Though the offense could only convert this momentum-shifting play into a field goal, the takeaway proved to be the difference in the game.
In addition to the players on the field, this game was won thanks to a classic performance by Coach Nick Saban and his staff. Saban put together a masterclass, not just in Atlanta on Saturday but throughout the 2023 season, in getting this team to where it currently sits.
Soon, we will find out if Alabama Football will compete in the 2023 College Football Playoff. Regardless of the committee’s decision, Bama made its statement by upending the two-time defending national champs and closing the book on a historic era of SEC Football.