3 takeaways from Alabama's SEC Championship upset of Georgia to end Dawgs' 29-game winning streak
Alabama continued its dominance in Atlanta, and slayed the recent college football dragon to end Georgia’s 29-game winning streak and make a strong argument for the College Football Playoff.
Alabama won 27-24 on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.
Georgia arrived at the SEC Championship after its 3rd straight perfect regular season, and have been at the top of the AP poll for an SEC-record 24 straight weeks. Alabama made it to Atlanta after an iconic play on 4th down and 31 in the closing seconds to win at Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
It was a meeting of powerhouses Saturday in Atlanta, as Alabama overcame early struggles this season, including a benching of starting QB Jalen Milroe, while Georgia won despite some key injuries to playmakers like Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey.
Milroe, who was benched for the South Florida game, is a threat with both his arm and his legs. He came into Saturday with 2,526 yards and 21 touchdowns, to go along with 439 yards rushing and 12 TDs. He’ll long be remembered for the “Milroe Miracle” — his 31-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Bond on 4th-and-goal to pull out an improbable 27-24 win over Auburn last week.
Under Nick Saban, Alabama came into the game 17-1 in games played in Atlanta, including 16 straight wins. The Tide was 7-0 in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games and 8-1 in SEC Championship Games.
Georgia’s last loss was a 41-24 setback to Alabama in the 2021 SEC championship game. The Bulldogs haven’t beaten Alabama in Atlanta since 1942. Beginning in 2012, the Crimson Tide has won four straight over Georgia in the A-T-L — three of those for the SEC title, the other in the national championship game.
For Georgia, Brock Bowers was a question mark as he missed last week’s win over Georgia Tech after he returned from an ankle injury suffered against Vanderbilt. He missed 3 games after the surgery, but returned to catch 10 passes with 2 TDs in convincing wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee. Despite missing 4 games, Bowers still leads the Bulldogs with 51 receptions for 661 yards and six touchdowns. Bowers was not 100% in the game, but was involved early.
Here are our takeaways from the SEC Championship:
Heavyweights help SEC live up to hype
Coming into the game, there was plenty of talk about this being the final game of the “SEC on CBS” partnership. Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Brad Nessler all reflected on the iconic moments of the marquee 3:30 p.m. ET game that lured scores of college football fans to love the sport.
But as the teams had punch and counter punch late in the game, with touchdowns by Carson Beck, Roydell Williams and Kendall Milton, the SEC heavyweights delivered a game for the ages and Alabama prevailed.
Georgia’s fast start, slow finish in 1st half
It looked fast and easy to start the game. Georgia burned Alabama for an opening touchdown from Kendall Milton to cap an 83-yard drive.
It was quick and efficient for Georgia, as Carson Beck found Brock Bowers for a 23-yard reception on the first play out of scrimmage before he connected with Dominic Lovett on a 14-yard pass to get across midfield. Then Ladd McConkey secured a 15-yard dart to get into the redzone to set up Milton’s 17-yards touchdown.
Since the opening scoring drive through the end of the 3rd quarter, Georgia averaged 2.7 yards per play heading as Alabama built a 20-10 lead.
8 plays 83 yards
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) December 2, 2023
Alabama delivers clutch plays in key moments
Alabama started the game 1-for-6 on 3rd down conversions, but 2-for-2 on 4th down by halftime, a favorite down for the Tide in recent days. But a key 4th down conversion came to last week’s hero, Isaiah Bond, who secured a catch from Milroe near the sideline, as he went for 22 yards on a 4th down and 4 play.
Former Georgia wide receiver Jermaine Burton then hauled in a 15-yard touchdown catch 2 plays later.
Alabama then forced a key turnover when Carson Beck fumbled late in the 3rd quarter at the Georgia 17-yard line. Alabama settled for a field goal to extend its lead to 10 points.
However, Alabama’s offense sputtered in the 2nd half with just 21 yards with about 10 minutes to go after Georgia pulled within 20-17.