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Bama 27, Georgia 24: Tide Grind Out Victory, Bulldogs Must Wait On Fate

2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There are a few football truisms that hold true through the years.

Perhaps none more than this one: “if you win the line of scrimmage you win the football game.”

This one is also pretty reliable: “the team that makes big plays in crunch time usually wins the football game.”

Alabama won the line of scrimmage. Alabama made big plays when it counted. As a result, Alabama won the football game. There’s not a lot more to say, but I’ll try to add a little context.

Georgia had a reasonably good plan to limit Jalen Milroe and the Georgia offense. In fact the Bulldogs ultimately finished with a 321 to 306 advantage in offensive yardage. Alabama managed 114 yards rushing, but needed 41 attempts to get there, a paltry 2.8 yards per attempt. If you’d told me that was the Tide’s rushing line I’d have felt pretty good about our chances.

What Georgia didn’t have was a great plan to prevent Isaiah Bond from playing one of the most clutch football games I’ve seen from a receiver all year. The hero of Alabama’s leprechaun-lucky win over Auburn was equally reliable under pressure tonight, catching 5 catches for 79 yards. While none went for a score, each seemed A back-breaker for a UGA defense that played hard but was never able to really assert any dominance.

The Bulldog offense simply didn’t play the game we needed it to. I was in the rather large camp that thought going into this one that 30 points would be needed to win it. And 30 would have done the job.

Carson Beck had a decent game statistically, completing 21 of 29 passes for 243 yards. He didn’t throw any interceptions, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, as the Tide secondary had some chances. Beck looks better as a passer when he’s throwing to Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey with a step on the defender. The combination of those guys being a step slower due to injury and the best secondary we’ve seen this season dropped his numbers from Heisman-caliber to merely good.

The running game being merely good would have been a big help. Neither Kendall Milton or Daijun Edwards could ever get loose, combining for 80 yards on 23 carries. 3.47 yards per rush wasn’t close to enough to keep the Bama defense off balance.

Now we wait. Honestly, setting all homerism aside, it doesn’t feel like Georgia belongs in the playoff over the likes of an undefeated conference champion Michigan or Florida State. If those teams win then Texas will have set themselves up for the #4 spot by taking care of business in their conference championship game against a solid opponent. Georgia inarguably didn’t do that.

Do I think on a neutral field that we have one of the four best football teams in the nation? Absolutely. And one could argue that it will be hard to drop the #1 team four spots after a 3 point loss at a neutral site with multiple starters out and at least one critical questionable call making a difference. But I expect the committee would manage it.

There’s no shame in losing a hard-fought game to a team this good. And certainly not with all the injuries the Bulldogs we’re dealing with in this one. Part of the game is having the depth to overcome that. We simply didn’t. As Bulldog fan Corey Smith once sang, we can’t win every game we play.”

I feel great about where this program is. I feel great about where it’s going, and about the players who are unlikely to be going anywhere. We lost 31 players to the NFL in two years, we knew this team was diminished by that. And tonight it showed.

The sun will rise tomorrow. My national championship gear from 2021 and 2022 will still fit.

For now I’m going to see if Louisville can knock off a Florida State team with a true freshman making his first college start. There’s a separate thread for the ACC game. Proud to be a Dawg!