Football Atlanta - Online

Alabama with Impressive Win Over UGA in
SEC Championship Game


By Don Stone - Georgia Football Magazine and Football Atlanta

  We've been here before. Mercedes-Benz Stadium has held its share of glory and heartaches for the Georgia Bulldogs, especially when Alabama is on the field. We all know about the fourth quarter double digit lead that UGA lost in the final minutes to the Crimson Tide.

  But, this season seemed different. It wasn't with another double digit lead squandered by UGA. The only thing not the same was that in those previous losses, the lead lasted until late in the game. This time, Georgia jumped out early 10-0 but saw the Crimson Tide quickly come back to make it 10-7. Halfway through a 24 point second quarter, Alabama had the lead. The Bulldogs managed to tie it at 17 late in the first half only to see the Tide come right back with another score to take a 24-17 lead into the half.

   Less than two minutes into the third quarter, they were on the board again to extend the lead to 14.

   Stetson Bennett was driving his team down the field but had a pass picked off by DeMarcco Hellams at the 12, costing his team at least a three point field goal attempt and a potential seven. Early in the fourth quarter, Bama got a crucial pick six as Jordan Battle snagged a Bennett pass and took it 42 yards to the house. That pretty much was the nail in the coffin with the lead at 38-17. Georgia would add on another score but could never get closer than the 14 point hole.

   Bama kept UGA at arms length never letting them get closer than a two score deficit.

   In the end, there were two key reasons for their victory. Turnovers was the first. Georgia had two Bennett passes intercepted. One was the crucial pick six, the other preventing at least a field goal. That was a 10 point difference in a game that was settled by 14 points. The larger lead forced Kirby Smart to go for it four times on fourth down plays, only making two of them. They were also only three of twelve on third downs to Alabama's seven of fourteen.

  But the big difference was quarterback play. Alabama clearly shined there with Bryce Young named Player of the Game on his way to a probable Heisman Trophy with his performance. Young wound up with 421 yards passing to Bennett’s 340. The
421 yards rushing by Young and his 461 total yards were both SEC Championship records.

  I guess you could say a third reason for the victory was Nick Sabin, who clearly has Smart's number winning seven in a row against UGA. This time, he stopped UGA's 16 game winning streak. But he's not alone in his dominance of the Dawgs. Sabin now has won 34 in a row over SEC East teams going back eleven years. He is 44-3 himself including his time at LSU.

   After the game, Sabin talked about how the media predictions of a Georgia win were used as motivation. "You guys gave us a lot of really positive rat poison. The rat poison that you usually give us is usually fatal, but the rat poison that you put out there this week was yummy." (Laughter).

   The Tide will move up to either #1 or #2 depending on whether Michigan's impressive win in the Big Ten Championship Game puts them on top. Georgia's fate will be in the hands of the committee, who will probably keep them in the final four playoff picture. The big difference in the loss is that where they play was theirs to choose. It no longer is. Either way, it will be in a semifinal game either in Dallas or Miami. The announcement comes at noon on Sunday.