Alabama holds off Georgia 32-28, advances to Miami

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 2, 2012 at 12:47 am •  Published: December 2, 2012
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ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama got a hand on the ball, which wobbled into the arms of a Georgia receiver who wasn't supposed to catch it.

Before the Bulldogs could get off another play, the clock ran out.

The Crimson Tide is heading back to the national championship game.

By a mere 5 yards.

AJ McCarron threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 3:15 remaining and No. 2 Alabama barely held on at the end, beating No. 3 Georgia 32-28 in a Southeastern Conference title game for the ages Saturday night.

"I'm ready to have a heart attack here," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said.

As confetti fell from the Georgia Dome roof, the Bulldogs collapsed on the field, stunned they had come so close to knocking off the team that has won two of the last three national titles.

"We just ran out of time," Georgia coach Mark Richt moaned.

Alabama (12-1) will get a chance to make it three out of four when it faces top-ranked Notre Dame for the BCS crown on Jan. 7 in Miami.

This time, Alabama will head to the big game with a championship already in its pocket — unlike last year's squad, which didn't even make it to Atlanta, but got a do-over against SEC champion LSU in the national title game.

Even though the Tide left little doubt it was truly the best team in the country, routing the Tigers 21-0, there were plenty who thought Saban's team didn't deserve a rematch.

There will be no complaints when Alabama heads to South Florida for a dream matchup between two of college football's most storied programs. The Tide and Notre Dame have each won eight Associated Press national titles, more than any other school.

"This group has been fantastic," Saban said. "They were able to accomplish something of significance, and something that last year's team didn't accomplish, which is win the SEC championship."

What a game it was.

After an apparent game-clinching interception by Alabama was overturned on a video review, Georgia's Aaron Murray completed a 15-yard pass to Arthur Lynch, a 23-yarder to Tavarres King and a 26-yarder to Lynch, who was hauled down at the Alabama 8 as the clock continued to run.

The Bulldogs (11-2) were out of timeouts.

Instead of spiking the ball and gathering themselves, the Bulldog hurriedly snapped the ball with 9 seconds to go. Murray attempted a pass into the end zone but it was deflected at the line and ended in the arms of Chris Conley out in the right flats.

Surprised to see the ball coming his way, he instinctively dove for the catch at the 5.

Georgia couldn't get off another play.

Richt said the offense called the play it wanted at the end, a deeper route to Malcolm Mitchell, but Alabama ruined it by tipping the pass. If it had fallen incomplete instead of being caught by Conley, the Bulldogs would've had at least one more play, maybe two.

Instead, they were done.

"I told the guys I was disappointed, but I'm not disappointed in them," Richt said. "They're warriors. We had a chance at the end."

The consolation prize will likely be one of the second-tier bowls — the Capital One, Cotton or Chick-fil-A — though the Bulldogs certainly looked like a team deserving of something better.

"Do I think we're worthy of a BCS bowl?" Richt said. "Yes I do."

The Bulldogs even got props from Saban.

"It would be a crying shame if Georgia doesn't get to go to a BCS bowl game," the Alabama coach said. "They played a tremendous game out there. That was a great football game, by both teams. It came right down to the last play."

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