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Flashback Friday: 2012 SEC Championship Game – #2 Alabama vs #3 Georgia

Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

Arguably one of the most exciting games in Southeastern Conference title game history, 2012’s gargantuan match-up between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs was one to be remembered. The two teams are being selected as favorites thus far to compete once again in the early-December title game, so let us take a look back at what was considered a playoff game before the playoffs era. 

Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team came into the game with a record of 11-1 and ranked 2nd in the nation. The only falter on their season was a surprise upset in Tuscaloosa by Johnny Manziel’s Texas A&M Aggies a week after the legendary comeback against LSU on a T.J. Yeldon screen pass.

On the other hand, Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs took the field in similar fashion. They were also 11-1, were upset by Jadeveon Clowney’s South Carolina Gamecocks, and were ranked right below the Tide at 3rd in the nation.

With the two teams coming into the game ranked 2 and 3, there was no doubt that the winner would then advance to the National Championship game against Notre Dame. In addition to the coveted title of SEC Champions, this game put everything on the line for the two teams.

It completely lived up to it’s billing.

Both teams traded punts early in the game, but an A.J. McCarron fumble on his own 40-yard-line looked to set up the Bulldogs for a perfect scoring opportunity. However, they were only able to manage seven yards and ultimately missed a 50 yard field goal.

Two drives later, a fake punt pass went for 16 yards and set up a 19-yard Aaron Murray touchdown pass putting the Dawgs up 7-0. Another turnover – this time an A.J. McCarron interception – halted a promising drive that went all the way to the ‘Dogs 5-yard-line.

Following a three-and-out, Eddie Lacy pulled a Houdini-like spin move to free himself up for a 41-yard touchdown run. An errant pass from Aaron Murray on the next drive set up a Crimson Tide field goal, putting Alabama up 10-7 at the half.

The fireworks had just begun.

On cue, Todd Gurley carried the load on the first drive of the second half helping the Bulldogs travel 75 yards down the field for another touchdown putting them up once again, 14-10.

On the next drive, Alabama’s Cade Foster set up for a 49-yard field goal attempt but was blocked and returned 55 yards for a score by Georgia’s Alec Ogletree. The Bulldogs now owned the momentum, as well as an 11 point lead up 21-10.

That momentum would not last for long.

They followed up the blocked kick with a quick, four play drive on the back of T.J. Yeldon. In a surprising move, Nick Saban and company elected to go for two instead of the typical PAT. Once again, they had Yeldon shoulder the load, and he did that to perfection getting the ball in the endzone to cut the lead to just three at 21-18.

They carried that momentum with them after forcing another Georgia punt and taking the ball another 74 yards on the ground with Yeldon and Lacy. A one yard touchdown run then put the Tide up 25-21, surging the momentum in their favor.

Just like before, that momentum would not stay for long.

All Georgia needed was five plays, a 45-yard bomb to Tavarres King, and a 10-yard Gurley run to get back into the endzone. The momentum swung back in their favor as they took the lead, 28-25, with just under 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

McCarron and the Tide took the field hoping to grab back the momentum and a lead, once again, but were stopped after an eight play drive that also ate up 5 minutes and 40 seconds off the clock.

Alabama’s defense stepped up in a big way, forcing another three-and-out, giving the offense the ball back for another chance to take back the lead with five minutes left in the season.

A run, a short pass, and another run were just enough to pick up a first down. Just over three minutes were now remaining on the clock and the Tide needed to cover 45 yards if they were to regain the lead.

It only took one play:

Alabama Vs. Georgia 2012 SEC Championship: Amari Cooper's game winning touchdown!

A perfectly executed, 45-yard pass off of a play action to Amari Cooper put the Tide up 32-28 in the closing minutes.

Two drives and two punts later, Aaron Murray and his Georgia offense had 1:08 remaining on the scoreboard. Needing four points, it was touchdown or bust.

Boom. 9 yards. 4 yards. Then…picked off by Dee Milliner! Game over!

No, wait, never mind. After further review, it was called an incomplete pass. He couldn’t maintain possession. Murray, who was often criticized for lacking the ability to win big games, got one last breath.

Immediately afterwards he gets the team moving. 15 yards. 23 yards. 26 yards. 54 yards in three plays.

Now, with the ball at the ALA 8-yard-line, and 15 seconds to go, Murray had a chance to change the script:

Georgia's Final Plays in the SEC Championship

C.J. Moseley in to save the day. By tipping the ball, he caused Conley into an instinctive catch. Georgia did not have enough time to run another play and the game was finally, and officially, over.

Hopefully, we will be treated to another game much like this one again in the future. When two major schools go head-to-head with everything on the line, a show must be put on. This was more than anyone could script.

Jake Weaver is a lead writer for TD Alabama Magazine and Bama Hoops Hype. You can contact him via phone at 205-612-5060, or on Twitter @JWeaver_TDALMag

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