Bama delivers BCS knockout of Georgia, 32-28, in SEC Championship




With a BCS championship bid on the line, a heavyweight boxing match broke out at the Georgia Dome on Saturday, and it was defending national champion Alabama that delivered the knock-out blow in a 32-28 slugfest.

But give the Georgia Bulldogs credit. They got up off the mat and nearly won it.

With no timeouts and 85 yards to go with 1:08 to play, Georgia’s Aaron Murray got his team down to the Alabama 8. But rather than spike the ball with about nine seconds left, the Bulldogs elected to run another play. Murray’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and caught by flanker Chris Conley at the 5. He fell to the ground inbounds, and the last four seconds ticked off the clock.

“I told the players I was disappointed, but not disappointed in them,” a forlorn Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “It was a knock-down, drag-out fight, and everybody was swinging. We just ran out of time.”

For the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide (12-1), the victory means a third trip to the BCS championship game in the past four years. They won the previous two. Alabama will face undefeated and No. 1-ranked Notre Dame (12-0) on Jan. 7.

But Alabama coach Nick Saban indicated he and his players will enjoy the school’s 23rd SEC title for a while before worrying about that one.

“My focus right now is to give the players the positive gratification they deserve,” Alabama coach Nick Saban. “I don’t even know what the date of the (BCS) game is. We probably won’t practice for a couple of weeks.”

The Bulldogs (11-2), who haven’t won a national championship since 1980 and haven’t played for one in 30 years, will play Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

Richt’s decision not to spike the ball at the 8 and instead run a hurry-up play will be debated for a while. A 26-yard catch by Arthur Lynch with 15 seconds remaining got the Bulldogs to the 8. There were about nine seconds remaining by the time Georgia lined up.

Murray rushed the offense into formation and tried to hit Malcolm Mitchell with a pass in the back right of the end zone. But the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage, and Conley caught the ball inbounds at the 5-yard line.

“I know in hindsight now the ball wasn’t meant to go my way,” Conley said. “It was tipped at the line and, unfortunately I wasn’t able to make a smart play. Instinctively I grabbed the ball when I probably should let it go.”

Richt vehemently defended the decision.

“You don’t need to spike the ball there,” he said. “We had the play we wanted. It takes time to spike the ball, and we’re thinking about more than one play there.”

But that wasn’t where Georgia lost the game. The Bulldogs were manhandled up front by the Crimson Tide, who managed to run for 350 of their 512 yards. Junior tailback Eddie Lacy earned most valuable player honors with 181 yards and two touchdowns and his freshman backup T.J. Yeldon added 153 and another score. The Crimson Tide had the ball for nearly 38 minutes to Georgia’s 22:25.

“We did a great job of running the ball in the second half,” Saban said. “And the reason we did it was we couldn’t handle the pass rush.”

“I like the way we played,” said Jarvis Jones, who had six tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. “I think we challenged them for 60 minutes. We came four seconds from playing for the BCS title. I’m just proud of all these guys that sacrificed for us to get here.”

Georgia freshman Todd Gurley had 122 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Murray finished 18-of-33 passing for 265 yards with a touchdown and an interception and was sacked three times. Tavarres King led the Bulldogs with five catches for 142 yards.

“Oh, man, it was crazy the way that it was so close,” Murray said. “That’s something you dream of as a little kid, to win the game like that. It’s just crappy the way it ended, that’s for sure.”

Saturday’s game was essentially a BCS championship semifinal, and the two teams played accordingly. After exchanging the lead three times in the second half, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron hit Amari Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline for the game-winning score. Cooper, who had 127 yards on seven catches, got behind sophomore nickel back Damian Swann on the play, which came with 3:15 remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Murray was sacked on first down by linebacker Adrian Hubbard — a sophomore from Norcross — who stunted inside on a blitz for the 8-yard loss. Georgia ended up punting the ball to Alabama with 2:17 remaining, and it appeared the game might end like that.

But the Bulldogs used their final two timeouts and forced Alabama into a three-and-out. Mitchell’s fair catch at the 15 with 1:08 left gave Georgia one final shot.

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:

Game story: Alabama delivers BCS knockout of Georgia, 32-28

Bradley column: Five yards short in bitter defeat a winning UGA effort

Schultz column: Georgia earns respect in defeat, but loss not easy to take

The final drive and play: An agonizing ending for Georgia

What they said: post-game comments from players, coaches on both teams

Notebook: Saban believes Georgia deserves a BCS bowl

834 comments Add your comment

Kirk

December 1st, 2012
8:19 pm

NOOOOOOO! Anything but that! Not a loss like that. Sooo close…

Kirk

December 1st, 2012
8:21 pm

Georgia played an amazing game though. You have to give them credit for fighting hard and coming so, so close. It wasn’t a blowout like we expected and feared and here’s to hoping that we get a shot a good bowl for redemption.

dennydog

December 1st, 2012
8:29 pm

Alabama didnt do too bad considering how much more talent the bull poodles had…….

DP

December 1st, 2012
8:33 pm

Spectacular game. Hats off to both teams. Georgia fans, surprise me by not bashing your coach, your QB, the officials, etc.

Good article Chip. It was a heavyweight fight, one of the all-time great SEC games.

7576DAWG

December 1st, 2012
8:34 pm

I bet the Bama- Notre Dame won’t be near that close of exciting. Great game , too bad somebody had to lose.

Tn Dawg

December 1st, 2012
8:36 pm

Congrats to the Dawgs for a tremendous effort. Congrats to the Tide, there’s a reason they have won 14 National Championships.

Jason

December 1st, 2012
8:36 pm

We can say all we want. We can say that we should’ve done this, should’ve done that. It’s easy to seem to know all when we are watching on TV. It’s heart-breaking for sure. Game is over–thinking back on the past does us no good. We got to bounce back. GO DAWGS!

Disgusted

December 1st, 2012
8:36 pm

The Dogs choked in plain English. Face it, winning a big time game like this is impossible.

Next yr we will have more of the same. Second rate team, second rate university. Loser school loser state. We will never win.

Disgusted

December 1st, 2012
8:38 pm

Go Notre Dame any UGA fan who would rootfor Bama is a fool — you do not become friends with the guy who takes your wifeor girlfriend now, do you.

I have Alabama & will not congratulate them or Eddie Lacy or TJ Yeldon — hate those guys.

Disgusted

December 1st, 2012
8:38 pm

Would have been better to lose 52-0.

DreamandWonder

December 1st, 2012
8:40 pm

Great game. Frustrating to lose that one. Time to watch Tech get rolled.

RTR420

December 1st, 2012
8:40 pm

I bleed crimson but UGA played a heckuva game. If they drop below Florida in the polls something is wrong.

jc_dawgs

December 1st, 2012
8:41 pm

The important thing is that this Ga team left it all out there on that field. No shame….proud of em!

Anj

December 1st, 2012
8:42 pm

It was 15 seconds… Not 8. Sad that we didnt spike the ball. Great game. Murray played well. Sad our coaches chooked at the end.

BigDawgExpress

December 1st, 2012
8:42 pm

It wouldn’t have been better to lose 52-0!! Are you nuts! The Dawgs played their hearts out and Bama was just a bit better.

Alex

December 1st, 2012
8:43 pm

mark richt is a loser I was with 50 people that knew they should spike the ball bad coaching lost that game he needs to take responsabiltity.

tell me again

December 1st, 2012
8:43 pm

We scored more points on Bama’s D than anybody except A&M – they scored 29 — and won – it was a close game and hard fought but in the end Bama’s O line and running backs combined to pull it off – Murray was up to the challenge with the passing game and exposed Bama’s secondary just like A&M did. Great game, excellent teams – our O will be great next year and the D will be reloading with great talent. Let’s congratulate our boys on a great effort and a near epic victory. One more game – let’s root for them to go out in style! GO DAWGS – win, lose or draw you made us proud tonight!

JC

December 1st, 2012
8:43 pm

Bottom line.. Dawgs have to get better at physical and mental conditioning in the off-season. They wore down and could not stop the run in the second half. I know bama is good but over 300 yards rushing.. cmon man

jc_dawgs

December 1st, 2012
8:43 pm

Fla is sure to get the sugar….Ga should at least get the cap one bowl….but if Fl climbs above Ga to #3 they get a bcs bowl automatically(the sugar) as the #3 team.

Sharkman

December 1st, 2012
8:43 pm

Great game DAWGS! Yeah we lost, but let’s face it, we almost defeated BAMA with them physically dominating our vaunted defensive line to set an SEC Championship rushing record.

Now as close as it looked

December 1st, 2012
8:43 pm

Take away the blocked kick return and the game is not that close. The ball on the previous play was not tipped so those points should not have counted anyway, too bad puppies.

J Graves

December 1st, 2012
8:44 pm

As a UGA alum people like “Disgusted” disgust me. My wife and I both graduated from UGA and consider ourselves blessed that our entire family can enjoy rooting for a contender for the national championship every year. The only loser is you and others who fail to see that consistently getting the Dawgs in the top 10 WILL eventually result in a National Title….to anyone involved in UGA athletics, the alumni are proud of you…we know you’ll reach the pinnacle! GO DAWGS!!!

DP

December 1st, 2012
8:44 pm

To the Saban haters, he just said that if Georgia doesn’t get a BCS bowl it will be a crime.

JoeFann

December 1st, 2012
8:44 pm

Great, great ballgame. Couldn’t ask for a better effort. As usual, came down to mistakes and great plays made by great players Swann gets beat and McCarron made the throw. Dawgs drive the length and Mosley makes a great play tipping the ball. Would’ve preferred a spike, but understand the desire to keep it going before Bama gets its defense set. Can’t fault Conley for catching the surprise. Just needed ten more seconds. Congrats to Bama. Represent in Miami. Couldn’t imagine Notre Dame being favored against either. As good a game as anyone could hope for. Thanks, Dawgs, for a great ride. It was nice to have the opportunity.

brian black

December 1st, 2012
8:45 pm

Murray please leave

Dawg1

December 1st, 2012
8:45 pm

Knock out?

A technical knock out.

When your own their 5 when the clock runs out with a chance to win – that’s no knock out.

Great Game.

Congrats to Alabama.

You saw the National Championship game today folks.

Alabama will hang 50 on ND.

J Graves

December 1st, 2012
8:46 pm

(oops….’alumnus’…let me correct that before the tech grads have a field day.)

Strat Cat Dawg

December 1st, 2012
8:46 pm

Show some class, Dawgs, we slugged it out with Bama and fell just short. You should be proud of the team and the coaches- I am

Danny Ford

December 1st, 2012
8:47 pm

Coach Spurrier says “hi!”

Austin

December 1st, 2012
8:48 pm

Salt on the wound for UGA fans…Florida gets a BCS bid and you fall to Cotton Bowl…terrible.

MontanaDawg

December 1st, 2012
8:48 pm

Dawgs played a great game, but the Bama running game just wore us down in the second half. I won’t question the final play (spike or no spike?), but I thought for sure Murray would run down and spike the ball. The one person I was worried about – Aaron Murray – played exceptionally well, and I am proud to be a Georgia Bulldog tonite.
GO DAWGS!!

D man

December 1st, 2012
8:49 pm

Georgia deserves Sugar Bowl after that game. Proud of the way the boys hung in there and almost pulled it out. We just ran out of time…

gregg34366

December 1st, 2012
8:49 pm

To disgusted: Chill bro. It would not have been better to lose 52-0. That is silly. GA played a great game. AL made a play; give them credit. Both teams can be proud.

DAWG

December 1st, 2012
8:49 pm

Same old story, laid a goose egg. This is the norm for Georgia loose when it counts, and Alabama goes on to win their third national title. I will never see Georgia when a national title in my lifetime. I am finished with Georgia and will have one huge garage sale to get rid of all the crap that I have wasted my money on.

McDonough

December 1st, 2012
8:50 pm

I guess Aaron Murray’s new nickname should be “SPIKE IT!”

Fire Richt

December 1st, 2012
8:50 pm

Lets face is Mark Richt will never take us where we need to go, its time to make a change! Get us a coach who know how to win big games!

snoop dawgy dawg

December 1st, 2012
8:50 pm

Georgia has hit their ceiling with this coaching staff bama doesn’t have better players just better coaches

frustrated

December 1st, 2012
8:50 pm

As Ron White said, you can’t fix stupid. Gotta figure a college kid can count backwards from 15. Or a coach.

Boat

December 1st, 2012
8:51 pm

Sometimes you just get beat and that’s what happened tonight. UGA had their chances, but Alabama made the plays that mattered. I was scared the Dawgs wouldn’t show up for the big game. They did, but they just fell a little short.

GA SUCKS

December 1st, 2012
8:51 pm

LMAO…..Georgia once again is a want to be! To all of the GA fans that pulls for the tide, you get what you deserve!Ha ha ha! Yall haven’t won anything since 1980!

The Voice of Reason

December 1st, 2012
8:51 pm

People like Disgusted absolutely disgust me. Please crawl back under the rock from which you emerged and ask your Mommy to turn up the heat in the basement of her house where you live. You sir, are a second rate fan and UGA doesn’t need you nor want you. Please go cheer for another team as you disgust all of us true Georgia fans. You are a troglodyte and not worthy of being a Georgia fan. Begone. You make the rest of us fans sick.

E Cole

December 1st, 2012
8:51 pm

“Disgusted”! You are not a fan. Purely classless. These kids and coaches left their hearts on the field. Nothing at all to be ashamed of. Does it hurt? Absolutely. But I’ll be back cheering on UGA and the SEC. I bleed RED and BLACK. GO DAWGS! For life….

snoop dawgy dawg

December 1st, 2012
8:52 pm

@ GA SUCKS
Gtfo

Disgusted

December 1st, 2012
8:52 pm

Don;t go away mad Murray just go away.

Gosh I hope that Jeff George clone just goes away.

Kelly

December 1st, 2012
8:52 pm

Kirk, I dunno who you were expecting to be blown out, but nobody I knew who followed these teams thought it was going to be a blowout. Sucks, but the guys played their hearts out. UGA fans should not get down on that team. They never, never gave up. These teams were pretty equally matched.

Contractor

December 1st, 2012
8:52 pm

To kerryb and other conspiracy theorists,

I hope you have enough to swallow all your pride and admit you’ve been wrong ALL week long. I hope you eat crispy crow all offseason. And quit blaming the refs and everything else you can grab on as you slip down that slope. What happens if Nick Saban calls a timeout and Alabama scores a touchdown before half instead of a field goal? See, I can play that too.

To the rest of you Georgia fans,

One of the best football games I have seen in a long while and easily Top 5 in my 28 years of life. I have never been afraid of a Georgia offense, but I have to admit that today I was very worried after Murray and Gurley staked their claim. I figured Murray would turn the ball over, but I also figured Gurley to hit 100 yards. I picked him pre-season to be Freshman of the Year, and I think he definitely is (Manziel disqualified since he’s a redshirt freshman, not true). I can’t give Georgia enough credit because y’all played a heck of a game and it was just an awesome game. That’s what you call SEC football and a game everyone from the South can be proud of. That is simply why we are the best in the country and have the National Championships and rankings to prove it. Awesome game, and I respect the few of you that keep it civil and real more than anything. Roll Tide.

faultline

December 1st, 2012
8:53 pm

Tide ran the ball like Tech did no us, only they scored.

Kelly

December 1st, 2012
8:53 pm

There was no conspiracy and no bad calls that cost UGA. It’s just a tough loss. That’s it.

Disgusted

December 1st, 2012
8:54 pm

UGA has nothing to be proud of — they lose twice this season. Not good enough

leslie22h

December 1st, 2012
8:54 pm

Still proud of this team. They gave Saban and Co. a fit and there’s nothing for these DGDs to hang their heads over. I hope they have a statement win in whatever bowl they play in and pray that our team (especially defense) doesn’t lose their edge with all the attrition that is sure to come in the NFL Draft this spring. I hope Murray returns and shatters all the records. The kid might not end up being a future NFL MVP, but Aaron Murray is All-World in my book.