'Bama outlasts Georgia as time runs out for shot at BCS title game
But when the Crimson Tide finally did run Saturday at the Georgia Dome, it couldn't be stopped. Junior running back Eddie Lacy accumulated 181 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns, and Alabama found a way to survive for a gut-wrenching 32-28 victory over Georgia to win coach Nick Saban's fourth league title.
Consequently, Alabama will return to the BCS Championship Game to try to win its third crystal football in four years, this time against No. 1 Notre Dame in Miami on Jan. 7.
Even though the Crimson Tide set an SEC Championship Game record with 342 rushing yards, it wasn't easy.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray had a chance to win the game, with first down at his 15-yard line and 1:08 to go, but time ran out after his pass to the 4-yard line to complete the roller coaster game.
Georgia spent a good part of the scoreless first quarter in Alabama territory, with a sack and fumble by All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones and the Crimson Tide leading to a missed 50-yard field goal.
However, on fourth-and-10 at the Alabama 36, tight end Arthur Lynch found Sanders Commings for a 16-yard gain up the middle. Two players later, Murray caught Robert Lester playing up toward the line and completed a 19-yard touchdown pass behind the senior safety to Jay Rome.
But Alabama had perhaps an even bigger gaffe coming up. AJ McCarron threw one up for freshman Amari Cooper for a 44-yard gain as Alabama quickly drove down to the Georgia 1. But McCarron's quick-out to Cooper was picked off in the end zone by Commings.
Alabama finally went to the run, and Lacy broke a 41-yard touchdown run to tie the game with 1:59 left before halftime. The Tide took the lead on Jeremy Shelley's 22-yard field goal after Murray was picked off by sophomore safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and drilled by Quinton Dial during the return.
Georgia opened the second half with a touchdown drive and blocked field goal by Cornelius Washington that bounced right over kicker Cade Foster's head and to Alec Ogletree for a 55-yard return for a 21-10 lead.
Alabama answered with freshman T.J. Yeldon breaking a 31-yard gain to set up his 10-yard touchdown run, and Lacy grinded away and capped a 74-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
That lead was short-lived as a 45-yard reception by Tavarres King set up a 10-yard run by Gurley and 28-25 fourth-quarter lead.
But McCarron hit freshman Amari Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown off a play-action to complete the scoring and break Georgia's hearts once again.
Notes: Alabama is 49-0 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for at least 150 yards. The Crimson Tide rushed for 152 yards in the first half Saturday. ... Crimson Tide senior nose tackle Jesse Williams went down with a knee injury on the first possession of the second half. After putting a brace on, he was able to return in the fourth quarter. Reserve nose guard Brandon Ivory was playing on a sprained ankle. ... Alabama kicker Cade Foster hadn't attempted a field goal since Oct. 20 against Tennessee or made one since Florida Atlantic on Sept. 15. ... Alabama is 4-4 in the SEC Championship Game, while Saban is 4-1 including a 34-13 win against the Bulldogs in 2003 when he was with LSU. The lone loss was to Florida in 2008, which he avenged a year later when the Crimson Tide went on to beat Texas in the Rose Bowl for the national championship. Georgia coach Mark Richt is 2-2 in SEC title games. ... The individual record for rushing yards in the SEC Championship Game is 201 by LSU's Justin Vincent in 2003 against Georgia. ... Lacy was named game MVP.