It was a close game for awhile, but Alabama’s weapons could be held in check only for so long.
Georgia led 24-20 at half, and the second half resulted in a few drives trading field position. But then the Tide offense started rolling, and the defense kept coming up with stops. Alabama rattled off 21 points on three straight drives and dominated time of possession in the final quarter when they needed to. Bama held the ball for 11:21 in the fourth, including the final 6:05.
When the offense needed to air it out and pass it around, it did. When it needed to grind it out and kill the clock, it did.
2nd and 9: Alabama is pinned deep once again, and a short run on first down has Alabama behind the chains. All three receivers are on the left initially, but DeVonta Smith (#6) motions to the right and floats in the flat. Miller Forristall (#87) runs a deep route and draws one of the safeties. John Metchie (#8) and Jaylen Waddle (#17) switch with Waddle going outside and Metchie inside. Metchie’s deep route in the middle of the field draws the other safety, which leaves Waddle one-on-one on the outside. And that’s all she wrote. Waddle has a clean release and gets up to speed, and the cornerback stumbles and falls on his face while trying to keep up. Mac Jones puts the ball on the money, and it’s an easy go-ahead touchdown.
1st and 10: Alabama’s got some momentum after following up that touchdown with an interception, and we see a play that looks like the previous touchdown. Smith motions right to left this time, and the back seven for Georgia move in that direction. Waddle and Metchie switch again; and from the limited angle we get, it looks like they run similar routes to what they did on the touchdown. There are two big changes this time, though. Najee Harris (#22) is the running back and runs a wheel route while Forristall blocks for a second before running a route to the side opposite he starts on (his route on the Waddle touchdown was on the side he started on). Jones rolls to his left and looks Smith’s way, but that’s just a fake. He looks back to his right and his primary target, Harris. The linebacker Nakobe Dean has read it, however, and is dropping back to take it away. Jones plays it smart and doesn’t force a pass, instead checking down to a wide open Forristall (Dean can’t cover both, and the other linebacker dropped back the other direction after seeing Forristall block). It’s a nice 11 yard gain and first down.
1st and 10: Alabama goes hurry up with trips left. Harris takes the handoff and moves a few steps to the right. He then turns and pitches it back to Jones for the flea flicker and immediately has to throw a block on a blitzing defensive back that both Landon Dickerson (#69) and Emil Ekiyor (#55). And he somehow does it. Jones still has to fire off the pass quickly with another defender bearing down. It’s a little short; but DeVonta Smith makes an adjustment and comes back for it, hauling in another big play. Alabama scores a touchdown a few plays later.
3rd and 2 (ignore the CBS graphic that says 3rd and 3): It’s third and short with Alabama holding a double digit lead late in the game. Blocking OL/TE Kendall Randolph (#85) is in instead of Miller Forristall, who is a receiving threat unlike Randolph. The Tide have also run the ball seven straight times (there was one pass play that didn’t count because of defensive holding). It looks like a run, and it smells like a run. But Bama still has two wide receivers outside the right hashmark and a third to the left of the line. The passing game has shredded Georgia, and Steve Sarkisian has called passes on third down earlier in the game. So the Bulldogs have to respect it.
All that said, it’s a run to the strongside. Alex Leatherwood (#70), Dickerson, and Randolph all take a man near the line while Evan Neal (#73) and Ekiyor double team the backside defensive end and Deonte Brown (#65) gets up to the linebacker at the second level. Najee Harris has a huge hole to run through and makes a slight cut inside to avoid the cornerback. He gets hit and spins around, but he keeps his feet churning and gains an extra couple yards.
2nd and 9: Alabama has now run nine straight running plays, and they’ve gone to 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends). Forristall motions to the right, and the Georgia secondary passes him off, putting the safety on that side in man coverage against him instead of being able to help out on one of the two receivers. DeVonta Smith, in the slot, now has one-on-one coverage. He runs to the back of the end zone, and Jones lofts one to him. The corner is in good position, but Smith just makes a better play, jumping and catching it over the defender and somehow getting both feet down for the touchdown and dagger.
2nd and 5: Alabama had the passing touchdown to cap the last drive and opened this drive with a pass; but, otherwise, it’s been run after run after run. And it’s no different here. Brian Robinson (#4) gets the handoff, and Georgia is unsurprisingly ready for it. Robinson is hit barely past the line of scrimmage. So that’s it, right? Nope. B-Rob keeps his feet moving; and the offensive line shoves and pulls him forward, out-powering the Georgia defensive front. This vaunted Georgia defense is tired and worn down, and the Alabama offense ain’t. Emil Ekiyor’s first down celebration caps it off.