"A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green." - Francis Beacon
The Bulldogs are a multitude out on a mission, one filled with vindication and vengeance. The former has been achieved, as Georgia silenced their stigma of folding against top-ranked opponents with their second-round win over Kansas State. The latter, however, manifests itself in the form of the Crimson Tide. The SEC Championship, and a shot at the national title, was lost at the hands of Alabama, altering the Dawgs’ postseason itinerary from South Beach to Disney World. A December Madness crown would be of great comfort to Mark Richt, Aaron Murray and company, but nothing would be as rewarding as sending Nick Saban to an offseason sabbatical in the process.
Speaking of Saban, the head coach has the Tuscaloosa faithful fantasizing about their third BCS Championship in four seasons. Amazingly, the accumulation of national title rings has not translated to success in the December Madness arena, as the Crimson Tide were ousted in the second round of last year’s tournament. If Alabama wants to secure their spot in college football lore, placing this year’s Madness belt on their trophy mantle has to be a prerogative.
Perhaps the emotion got the best of both offenses, or the defensive units were running high on adrenaline, but the first quarter was a forgettable one, as each team traded field goals to close the opening period at 3-3.
Alabama ended this insipidness with a Kenyan Drake 15-yard dash to pay dirt early in the second quarter to put the Crimson Tide ahead. Yet the excitement was short-lived for 'Bama, as Georgia’s lethal backfield combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall turned the tables for the Bulldogs. Gurley struck first with a 30-yard touchdown scamper, followed by a Marshall 50-yard breakout dash to give the advantage to Georgia. Alabama answered with a 63-yard throw from A.J. McCarron to Kevin Norwood, with Ben Howell capping the drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone. Unfortunately, while the Tide defense would hold Georgia on the following drive, a beautiful punt tucked 'Bama inside the five-yard line. This ominous Alabama field position was exploited by the 'Dawgs, who sacked McCarron in the end zone, giving Georgia two points and a 19-17 lead at half.
Whatever speech Saban delivered to rattle the cages of his team, the words of wisdom worked, as the Crimson Tide came out firing in the second half thanks to the terrain aptitude of T.J. Yeldon. The phenom freshman posted two second-half scores, the first a 56-yard burst in the third quarter, the second a 26-yard rumble in the beginning of the fourth, and, along with Jeremy Shelley’s second field goal of the afternoon, put the Tide on top 34-19 with just 10 minutes to go in the game.
However, Georgia would not go quietly into the night, with signal caller Aaron Murray finding Marshall twice through the air to cut the deficit to 34-32. Alas, a two-point conversion after the second touchdown pass failed, keeping Alabama’s lead alive.
The 'Dawgs elected to rely on their defense rather than attempt the onside kick. This decision proved erroneous, as seven-yard runs by Yeldon and Eddie Lacy gave the Tide the necessary first down to line up in the victory formation. Though they put up a fight, Georgia once again falls in dramatic fashion to its SEC counterpart.
Alabama’s Yeldon gets the game ball for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 15 attempts, with McCarron adding 218 yards through the air. In the losing effort, Marshall contributed three touchdowns, while his backfield mate Gurley racked up 153 yards on the ground.
Player of the game: T.J. Yeldon (110 rushing yards, 2 TD)
Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations:
Alabama 59.2% - Georgia 40.8%
Average Score of 1,001 Simulations:
Alabama 24.3 - Georgia 21.6