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Alabama 35, Georgia 28: So Close. So Far.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama is the horror movie villain of college football teams. You aren’t really safe until twenty minutes after the credits roll and the studio announces they’re not making a sequel. Hopefully the ‘Dawgs learned that lesson last January.

Welp. It happened again.

Georgia sputtered down the stretch after Alabama made a change at quarterback, losing to the Crimson Tide in the final moments in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Nick Saban’s squad pulled off the biggest comeback in SEC Championship Game history, storming back from 14 points down and scoring the final 21 points to take a 35-28 win.

They were aided by a Bulldog offense that went anemic down the stretch, and the second utterly inexplicable fake punt of the season. The last five Bulldog offensive drives before that last ditch effort went like this: missed field goal, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs. Jake Fromm was 6 of 12 passing on those drives. Give credit to the Crimson Tide defense. Especially their battered secondary, which made plays when needed, and forced Jake Fromm to hold onto the balls he was spinning effortlessly in the first half.

Whatever Kirby Smart and special teams coordinator Scott Fountain think they’re seeing in these situations, they need to unsee. Alabama saw it coming from a mile away and poor Justin Fields had no idea what to do with the ball when confronted with a base defense. In the way that other teams need a “get back” coach, we desperately need a “fake punts are stupid” coach.

In the end Georgia didn’t finish. The defense ran out of gas down the stretch. The offense didn’t execute when it mattered most. And the coaches made a special teams decision that Kirby Smart better be prepared to talk about for years to come. Jalen Hurts, like Tua Tagovailoa 327 days ago did just enough when it mattered most. There’s not a lot more to say about what just happened.

We knew Georgia probably wasn’t ready to take down this Tide team. We just didn’t expect them to find a way to rip our hearts out in almost identical fashion for the second time in eleven months.

It’s coming. The day when Georgia supplants Alabama to win it all. It isn’t today, and I’m heart-sick over that. I know you are, too. This Georgia squad lost so much talent and leadership from another team that came within a whisper of beating the Tide. They weren’t supposed to lead the putative greatest team this decade for most of a game. While there are some potential early entries who could make a difference, they’ll return more talent next year than they did this one. And the pursuit of the Tide will begin again.

But that’s next year. This Georgia team is one of the four best in America. It would whip the snot out of Notre Dame and Ohio State, and probably Oklahoma. That won’t matter to a Playoff Committee that in all likelihood doesn’t want GeorgiaBama III.

The mantle now falls to Kirby Smart and his staff to scrape this team back up off the floor and get them ready for a presumptive Sugar Bowl berth against a top 15 University of Texas team. In this moment, I don’t envy him.

Go ‘Dawgs!!!