When the Bulldogs are slogging through the Chick-fil-A Bowl, or whatever not-in-the-BCS bowl takes them, Georgia fans, players and coaches will replay in their heads the SEC Championship Game from the moment Alec Ogletree scored his enormous touchdown.
Georgia blocked a field goal, it took an impossibly clean bounce right up to Ogletree, who returned it 55 yards for a touchdown. Georgia led 21-10. Bulldogs fans had every right to start dreaming about winning the SEC and going on to play Notre Dame for the national championship.
There will be a lot of regrets after the 32-28 loss. Start from the end and work backwards, with the really strange decision to not spike the ball in the final seconds with a chance to win the game.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray led a great drive down to the 8-yard line, completing a long pass down the middle with 15 seconds to go. As the clock stopped to move the chains, Murray looked over to the sideline and motioned to the coaches that he was going to spike the ball. The only surprising thing is that he even asked. Spiking it to stop the clock is the obvious play. That costs only one or two seconds of precious time, and allows everyone to regroup and call two - maybe three - good plays to the end zone.
And when Murray motions to the sideline that he's going to spike the ball, he suddenly pauses like he's surprised at what the coaches were telling him.
Everyone was surprised. The Bulldogs didn't spike the ball.
They snapped it, after six of the 15 seconds had run off the clock. A hurried pass was tipped, caught well short of the end zone, and time ran out. It was a time management fiasco that will be debated by Georgia fans for years. Actually, there will be no debate. It was horrendous, and should be the unanimous conclusion.
But that wasn't the only reason Georgia lost. There will be plenty to lament.
The rush defense couldn't stop Alabama, allowing 353 yards, a SEC Championship Game record. Right after Ogletree's touchdown, with all the momentum on Georgia's side, the Bulldogs took a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff, took another 15-yard penalty later in the drive, and around those mistakes allowed T.J. Yeldon to rush for 47 yards and a score on four carries. And then Georgia's offense followed that with a three-and-out. So much for momentum.
Georgia had two more three-and-outs in the fourth quarter. There were plenty of chances for the Bulldogs to make a play and win the game, but they just couldn't get it done. And still, the Bulldogs defense gave the ball back to the offense with enough time for Murray to put together a heart-stopping drive and give the team a chance for a touchdown in the final seconds.
Who knows what might have happened had Georgia spiked the ball to stop the clock at the end.
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