Alabama coach Nick Saban, a noted workaholic, said he would likely enjoy his team’s 32-28 victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship game for about two weeks.
After that, he will focus on Notre Dame and the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami.
Saban said he’s found that work-break has worked well in the past. This will be Alabama’s third appearance in the national championship game under Saban.
“You can’t practice your way to the game,” he said. “It’s too long. The players get, you know, too stale and too bored with it. So it’s a one game season.”
Tying a record
With the win, Alabama tied the NCAA-era record for wins in a five-year period (60) set by Nebraska (1993-97).
Saban seemed especially proud of that number, pointing out that many of the players in the senior class signed with Alabama after it went 7-6 and played in the Independence Bowl in 2007.
“(Someone) asked me the other day what’s the biggest difference between going to the Independence Bowl or a game like this. I said, ‘People like you don’t come and interview you when you go to the Independence Bowl,’” Saban said. “You don’t get that kind of star power.
“I’m really proud of what this class has been able to accomplish and they have sort of an unprecedented opportunity to accomplish something of significance with the next game that we play.”
No turnovers, no problem
Alabama’s defense stopped Georgia from taking advantage of two turnovers in the first half. For the season, the Tide allowed 24 points off 15 turnovers.
The Bulldogs forced a fumble in the first quarter and took over on Alabama’s 40-yard line. With Georgia facing third-and-9 at 27, Xzavier Dickson sacked quarterback Aaron Murray for a loss of five yards and a 50-yard UGA field-goal attempt was wide right.
Georgia’s Sanders Commings later intercepted a poor throw by AJ McCarron in the end zone in the second quarter. After the Bulldogs took over at their 20-yard line, Alabama’s defense forced them into a three-and-out.
More defense: Dickson and Alabama’s defense pressured Murray and Georgia’s receivers throughout the game. Dickson had two sacks in the first quarter, a season high for a Tide defender.
Alabama sacked Murray three times with seven pressures, five pass break-ups and one interception. Georgia finished with 394 yards, 70 below its season average.
Going for it
Saban said he didn’t hesitate to attempt a 2-point conversion after Alabama scored to cut Georgia’s lead to 21-16 with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
Running back T.J. Yeldon converted the play to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to three.
“I always say, go for it late in the third quarter or the fourth quarter,” he said. “That’s kind of our philosophy.”
Three and out
Alabama was No. 2 in FBS at the forcing three-and-outs before the SEC championship game. The Tide’s 44.8 percent trailed only Florida State’s 48.1 percent.
The Bulldogs went three-and-out five times on 13 drives, 38.4 percent of their possessions.
Alabama has 17 seniors, 12 of whom are listed on the two-deep depth chart, compared to 29 sophomores, redshirt freshmen or true freshmen.
Saban said it was gratifying to see the team come together this season and try to earn its own accomplishments, instead of living off the legacy of last year’s national championship team.
”It’s a challenge that the coaches accepted and the players accepted and I just can’t be prouder of a group of guys,” Saban said. “We kind of had that I-would-not-be-denied attitude out there today.”
Etc.: Alabama is 37-25-4 all-time against Georgia. … The Tide have held 11 opponents to seven points or less in the first half this season. Georgia trailed at halftime 10-7. … Jeremy Shelley remains the only kicker who has yet to miss an extra point or field goal this year. He hit three extra points to increase his PAT total to 64 and a 22-yard field goal to increase that total to 11. … Alabama’s captains were safety Robert Lester, guard Chance Warmack and nose guard Jesse Williams. … Alabama has won 23 SEC championships and four Southern Conference titles.