What happened to you on Saturday? This is the must read for every SEC football fan on Monday morning right here at Saturday Down South. Pulling no punches as we recap a weekend of SEC football action…
Alabama Defeats Georgia in Classic SEC Championship Game
I went way too deep into this game already, but after all the emotions settled, we are left with Alabama as the #2 team in the country playing #1 Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship. Nick Saban and the Tide have a chance to be the first back-to-back National Champions since Nebraska in 1994 and 1995.
It was an entertaining game, but it wasn’t great football. Both defenses were getting gashed for most of the second half. It was reminiscent of nearly every Big-12 or Pac-12 game that SEC fans have been mocking for the last few years.
Both coaches made key mistakes that cost their team valuable points. Saban failed to use timeouts before halftime and Mark Richt, well, we all saw Richt’s mistake.
There were great performances and great moments, though. Eddie Lacy was a warrior going for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Freshman T.J. Yeldon had 153 yards and a touchdown. Georgia’s Baby Back Todd Gurley had 122 yards and two touchdowns. Amari Cooper had 8 catches for 128 yards and a massive touchdown. Alec Olgetree returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown and stuffed a charging Eddie Lacy on the goal line in the same game. Nick Saban bounced back from his questionable decision making before the half by correctly deciding to keep running the ball right up the middle on Georgia’s gassed defense for the two point conversion. It proved to be a critical decision.
The quarterback’s nights were fascinating. Aaron Murray was great all game and looked like an NFL quarterback. His final drive was a masterpiece until it wasn’t. Murray was the one running down the field asking if he should spike the ball, and he was told not to. The way this game ended wasn’t his fault.
A.J. McCarron on the other hand struggled for most of the night and often looked overwhelmed. His interception in the end zone is a mistake that veteran quarterbacks can’t make. But when he needed to make the biggest throw of the game, he made the biggest throw of the game. His 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper was perfect. It put Alabama in the lead, and they never gave it back.
But in five years the one thing everyone will remember about this game is the spike that never happened.
Career defining moment for Mark Richt
In the days leading up to the SEC Championship, the game was being described as a career defining moment for Mark Richt. Some will say he comes up short on the biggest stage against the biggest opponents (at least one person literally said that, to Richt, later in the night). The game was a career defining game for Mark Richt.
He choked in the biggest moment of his career. His quarterback is running down the field asking to spike the ball, and he made the decision to take one shot to win the game instead of two, maybe three. He’s the guy who is paid to be rational in irrational moments. His job is to get that call right.
In the moment that his players needed him to make the smart call, Mark Richt choked.
Notre Dame could win
There is not a great team in college football this season, but there are several good teams. One is playing in the Fiesta Bowl, one is in the Rose Bowl, and one is in the Sugar Bowl etc… Two of them are meeting for the BCS National Championship in Miami.
Notre Dame can win this game. They probably won’t, but they could.
Notre Dame has a very good defense. They held Stanford to 13. They held Oklahoma to 13. They held USC (with a backup QB) to 13.
They have a strong running game, and if you saw the Georgia game, you’ll know teams can run on Alabama. The Irish also have an athletic quarterback, and if you saw the Texas A&M game you’ll know that Alabama struggles with athletic quarterbacks.
Notre Dame’s defense isn’t as good as Florida or LSU’s, but it’s better than Texas A&M’s.
Again, I don’t believe it will happen. Alabama has a nice balance on offense, a decent defense, better athletes overall and veteran experience both on the field and on the sidelines. The moment won’t be too big for Alabama. But Notre Dame is a very good team. In games against very good teams this year, Alabama barely got by LSU and Georgia and lost to Texas A&M. It could happen.
Florida to the Sugar Bowl, Georgia to the Capital One Bowl
When Chris Conley caught that ball on the 5-yard line, it meant Georgia would not be playing for the BCS National Championship. It also meant they would not be playing in any BCS Bowl.
The first spot goes to Alabama, the second to Florida.
It’s the right call. Florida has the better resume, and it’s not close. Florida has quality wins over Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State. Georgia has a quality win over Florida and that’s it. Florida has one loss on the season, and Georgia has two.
Sure, Georgia beat Florida, but South Carolina crushed Georgia. Should the Gamecocks be playing in a BCS bowl? They have two losses, too. Texas A&M has two losses and they beat Alabama, should they be in a BCS Bowl?
The point is there are a lot of good teams not playing in the BCS Bowls this year. When only two SEC teams can play in the BCS it comes down to who had the better season, not who had the better Saturday in October. Florida’s resume is the best of the rest.
Plays That Mattered
A.J. McCarron makes a perfect throw to Amari Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown. Cooper stops his route for a second and still has enough speed to pull away from the Georgia defender.
Alec Ogletree had an outstanding game, including this touchdown off a blocked field goal.
What They Meant to Say
“Hey, Richt, thanks for not spiking the ball. What is the name of that French place in New Orleans that makes those fritters with the powdered sugar? That’s right Café Du Monde. So good! I love that place. I’ll pick you up a shirt.” – Will Muschamp, Head Coach, Florida
“Yeah, I’m saying that. Everyone in this room is saying that. Maybe not the stuff about Murray – he was great, but definitely about you.” – Reporter who asked Mark Richt question after the Game
“Back to Back, Baby! You know it, I know it. What time does Joe’s close in Miami? I’ll have time after the game, right?” – Nick Saban, Head Coach, Alabama
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports