Hearts pounding. Nerves rattling. Football is just a game, right? Wrong. Tears, confetti, fans fleeing and fists in the air. One is a champion and one fell to defeat. This game was not an ordinary conference championship game. It meant more. There was history between the coaches, the teams and the fan bases. On the field, battling it out to decide the others fate, and the victorious champions of the SEC are the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Money flying in the air, did someone just waste it or spend it wisely? Alabama and Georgia were back at it again. As for Georgia fans that phrase leaves a bitter taste in their mouths. And, for Alabama fans, it is always sweet. This was supposed to be revenge in the Benz for the dawgs, but they failed to complete the mission.
Prior to the game ESPN and the Wesleyan senior poll agreed. The Wesleyan seniors were surveyed who they thought would win the game and the outcome was 68% Alabama to 32 % Georgia. The majority of the nation, even Georgia fans predicted that outcome, and they were right. But, what people did not expect was for Georgia to put up that many points and that much of a fight.
Similarly to the National Championship, the Dawgs started off strong giving fans false hope. At the start of the game, the Dawgs were forced to punt, and they allowed Alabama to march down near the red zone at the beginning of the first quarter. But Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s lord and savior until the end, was sacked. A few plays after that Georgia intercepted the ball and that scary moment was saved. Senior Cole Elsevier said, “Tua looked decent and he got injured, but I think Jalen Hurts saved the day. I think Hurts did what Tua did last year and turned it all around when we lost momentum.”
At halftime the score was 21 to 14 with the Dawgs on top. For the majority of Georgia’s games, they have been on top in the first half. They are one of those teams that jumps right on it at the beginning of the game but gets conservative and loses their momentum towards the end, and that is exactly what happened in the SEC championship.
In the fourth quarter, along with classic referee mistakes, like a missed pass interference call, Georgia made a mistake that possibly costed them the game. Georgia had failed in getting a first down, so it was fourth down and the ball was around the 50. With not much time left in the fourth quarter, if Georgia were to punt, their defense proved they could hold Alabama’s offense. But instead Kirby Smart put second string, dual threat quarterback, Justin fields in. The plan was to go hurry up before Alabama could get a man to cover one of Georgia’s. Georgia had a guy wide open and that would have at least given them a first down if not more, but it took to long for them to snap it. They began pressuring Fields and he was forced to run only to get tackled, very far from first down. Head coach Kirby Smart said in a statement, “We were going to snap the ball quick. We took too long to snap the ball. They didn’t have a guy covered. We had a guy wide open. We took so long to snap it, that they recognized it and got the guy covered late. It was probably 20,30 yards’ field position that – we came to win the game. We wanted to win the game.”
Although Smart makes it seem as if it was the players fault, that play was called by the head coach, and ultimately that blame will fall on him.
Following the botched fake punt, the game was left with three minutes and 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Alabama scored to take the lead on the Dawgs by a touchdown. What could have been a revolutionary and outstanding call made by the smartest coach, turned into an easy scoring opportunity for the tide.
Sophomore Abby Scott said, “I was confident that Alabama would win because I trust Nick Saban even when we were down, I was pretty confident that we would still win even if it didn’t look so good in the first half. I had confidence in both Jalen Hurts and Tua, that either could win the game for us.”
That following day, the College Football Playoff Committee announced their rankings and most importantly the top four being selected for the playoffs. As many believed the top four were: 1. Alabama, 2. Clemson, 3. Notre Dame, and 4. Oklahoma. There was a debate among the committee, fans and sports analysts over who should be rewarded the number four spot. It ended up coming down to a fight between Georgia and Oklahoma, leaving Ohio State out of the discussion. Although many agreed that Georgia is one of the four best teams in the nation, Committee chair Rob Mullens said, “No one was unequivocally better than the other.” This forced the committee to look at strength of schedule, conference championships and wins and losses. Since Oklahoma’s only loss was to Texas and they redeemed that by winning their conference championship, that appeared better than Georgia’s regular season loss against LSU and conference championship loss against Alabama. Even though Georgia is more than likely one of the four best teams, since they have two losses and they didn’t win their conference championship, the committee refused to select them because of protocol.
And Once again, another heartbreaking article for Georgia fans, and another win for the Crimson Tide. As old as it may get, Nick Saban, and his insanely good coaching will not be ending anytime soon. But Georgia will only continue to improve. Soon, Georgia may be the number one force to be reckoned with, but for now Alabama will hold onto that, as they continue to dominant in every area of the playing field.