(I’ll be back with my column on the Georgia-Alabama SEC championship soon. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game.)
1. Great drive until the last decision: Trialing 32-28, Georgia was given a second chance to drive for a winning touchdown when an Aaron Murray interception was turned over on replay, which showed the ball hit the ground. So with the ball at the Dogs’ 28 on second-and-10, Murray then capitalized when completed passes to Arthur Lynch (15 yards), Tavarres King (23) and Lynch again (26), moving the ball to the Alabama 8. However, with the final seconds (from :09 after Lynch’s second catch) ticking down, Murray did not take the ensuing snap and spike the ball to stop the clock. Instead, he ran a play and completed a tipped pass to Chris Conley, who was tackled at the Alabama 5 and time ran out. It was a great three plays and a dreadful fourth. While it’s no guarantee that the result would have been different, spiking the ball to stop the clock would have allowed the Dogs to set up for one more play, potentially a more successful one.
2. It’s still about blocking and tackling: I know Georgia parlayed a fake punt into a first down and eventually a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead, and Alec Ogletree’s 55-yard return of a blocked field goal (by Cornelius Washington) gave the Dogs a seemingly insurmountable 21-10 lead in the third quarter. But we saw again why football is still about being able to knock the other guy over. Alabama’s offensive line, widely considered the best in the nation, took over the game in the second half, enabling the Tide’s Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon to pile rushing yards and the team to drive to three touchdowns after trailing 21-10. As Alabama’s line physically beat up the Dogs’ front, Georgia’s defense started to tire and missed tackles.
3. Georgia proved its worth: It’s probably of little consolation to Georgia fans but the Bulldogs proved their worth in this game. Some doubted their standing of being the nation’s third best team, behind Notre Dame and Alabama (according to BCS rankings). There were criticisms of their perceived easy schedule and the way they were manhandled by South Carolina earlier in the season. But Georgia just narrowly lost a game to a program that has won two of the last three BCS championships and will be favored for another title against Notre Dame. There were four lead changes in the second half. If the Dogs don’t let down, they will have a chance in a bowl game to finish off a 12-2 season with possibly a top-5 ranking.
By Jeff Schultz