Before Saturday’s game, The Augusta Chronicle identified five key matchups Georgia needed to win to beat Alabama and advance to the BCS title game:
1. Aaron Murray vs. Alabama’s secondary
2. Alabama’s offensive line vs. Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones
3. Alabama’s offensive line vs. Georgia’s defensive front
4. Special teams
Here’s a look at how they played out and how they affected the outcome:
Alabama’s offensive line. The Crimson Tide punished Georgia’s defensive front, opening up gaping holes for running backs T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy to the tune of 350 yards – an SEC Championship game record. Alabama owned the time of possession, tiring Georgia’s defenders by chewing up 37:35 of clock, compared to 22:25.
Nick Saban. The Alabama coach outfoxed Mark Richt, with Alabama dominating on the ground. Then, the Crimson Tide called a brilliant pass play, catching Georgia napping when A.J. McCarron tossed a 45-yard pass to Amari Cooper over the Bulldogs’ secondary for the winning touchdown with 3:15 remaining.
Jarvis Jones. Despite being double-teamed most of the evening, the Georgia outside linebacker recorded six tackles and two sacks and had three tackles for loss. In the first quarter, he beat a double team and forced a McCarron fumble.
Aaron Murray. The junior quarterback had three opportunities to lead Georgia to the national championship game with three drives in the final 7:14 of the game. The Bulldogs gained one yard on the first two drives. On the final drive, he failed to spike the ball and stop the clock with 15 seconds remaining. Then, when Georgia didn’t have any timeouts remaining, he attemped to throw a pass to the back of the end zone, but he didn’t get any height on the ball, it got batted at the line and Chris Conley caught it at the 5 as time ran out. The nation’s leader in passer rating, Murray completed 18 of 33 passes for 265 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Ultimately, it was a game he should have won.
Mark Richt. The Bulldogs coach made the first gutsy call of the game with his punt fake pass call early in the second quarter that eventually led to the Bulldogs’ first touchdown. Richt and Saban went toe-to-toe with strategy throughout. Ultimately, though, Georgia couldn’t make any adjustments to stop the stout Alabama run, and it failed to win the game in the end.
Georgia’s special teams. Bulldogs kicker Marshall Morgan missed a 45-yard field goal wide right in the first quarter. Had he made it, Georgia could’ve won the game with a field goal in the end.