The fight for the right to play in the BCS national championship was supposed to be like that.
A knockdown, dragged out brutal fight to the end that saw both Alabama and Georgia give their best shots and receive vicious blows in return until only one was left standing.
Alabama 32, Georgia 28
With 6 seconds remaining, Alabama tipped a pass from Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray to a receiver who was headed to the end zone and the shortened pass left Georgia with no recourse except to watch the clock run out.
The final drive started on the Georgia 15-yard line with 1:08 remaining Murray led his team all the way to the Alabama 8. The tipped pass left the Bulldogs five yards short of the end zone.
It was a perfect frenetic ending to a game that had been filled with tense moments and clutch plays.
"I'm ready to have a heart attack here about that last drive," Saban said in the on-field postgame interview. "I'm not saying we played our best game today. Georgia's got a great team, this is great for our fans, we really appreciate the support. We created a great opportunity and I'm really proud of what these guys have been able to accomplish."
There will be no controversy this year. No one will argue that a certain team didn't deserve to get into the national championship. Alabama and Georgia gave each other their absolute best and the best team will play Notre Dame on Jan. 7.
And if you're Notre Dame, you have to be a little worried.
Alabama's ground game was vicious against a Bulldogs defense that has been one of the toughest defenses in the SEC during the last month. The combination of T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy was like a freight train rolling though the middle of the Georgia defense and the Bulldogs had no answer. Lacy finished with 181 yards and two touchdowns while Yeldon had 153 yards and a score. And it was the threat of those backs that gave Alabama an opening to win the game.
With about 3 minutes remaining, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, who had been an afterthought for much of the game, found Amari Cooper for a 45-yard score that would be the game-winning touchdown. McCarron only had 162 passing yards on the day and that was his only passing touchdown.
It was the second career-defining moment for McCarron this season. The first came in the waning minutes against LSU when he found Yeldon on a screen pass to beat the Tigers.
Saban said the Tide didn't play its best game. perhaps that's because they allowed 28 points, the second-highest total they've allowed all season. The high of 29 came from Texas A&M in Alabama's only loss of the year.
Still, even if this wasn't a great Alabama performance, it was still one for SEC championship lore. It's almost a shame it wasn't for the national title.
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