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Tide hit stride, rout No. 1 Dogs

by The Associated Press | December 5, 2021 at 3:47 a.m.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban waves to fans after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. Alabama won 41-24. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)


ATLANTA -- Underdog is an unusual role for Alabama.

Turns out, it suits the Crimson Tide just fine.

Now, Nick Saban's team is in a much more familiar position: getting ready to play for another national title.

Bryce Young carved up the nation's top-rated defense, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another as the third-ranked Crimson Tide rolled over No. 1 Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The stunning result will likely send both powerhouse programs to the four-team College Football Playoff.

For Alabama, it would be the seventh appearance in the eight-year history of this postseason format, but this might the most unlikely one of all given the way the Tide struggled late in the regular season.

Saban made sure his players heard all the skeptics.

"You guys gave us a lot of positive rat poison," the coach quipped to reporters. "The rat poison you usually give us is fatal. But the rat poison you put out there this week was yummy."

No one lapped it up more than Young, who set SEC championship records with 421 yards passing and 461 yards total offense.

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/125sec21/]


"He played great tonight," Saban said. "He's played great for us all year long."

Coming off a surprisingly difficult, four-overtime win over Auburn and already saddled with a loss, the Tide knew they needed a victory to ensure a return to the playoff.

No problem.

The reigning national champions gave Saban a chance to add to his record seven titles -- six of them coming since he arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007 to lead a storied program that has become perhaps the greatest dynasty in college football history.

"The resiliency they've shown all year makes this so special," Saban said. "Winning the game as we did last week, playing a game today to a level that most people probably didn't expect, I'm really proud of this bunch."

Georgia (12-1) cruised through the regular season, barely challenged and a unanimous choice as the nation's No. 1 team for the past two months. The Bulldogs boasted a fearsome defensive unit that had allowed only 6.9 points a game.

Young made that vaunted defense look like a scout team, earning game MVP honors, bolstering his Heisman Trophy chances and moving on to an even bigger game on the final day of 2021.

"He's soooo good at avoiding the rush," Georgia Coach Kirby Smart said. "He buys time with his mobility and makes plays downfield. Give him credit. He did a tremendous job."

The playoff field will be announced today, with the semifinals set for the Orange and Cotton bowls on Dec. 31.

Alabama (12-1) had six offensive scoring drives -- five covering at least 75 yards, the other 62 -- and finished with a staggering 536 yards against a team that was giving up just under 231 per game.

The Tide's defense wasn't too shabby, either, essentially sealing the victory with Jordan Battle's 42-yard interception return to the end zone with about 12 minutes remaining.

Georgia's Stetson Bennett threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns, but he also had two crucial picks. Freshman Brock Bowers made 10 catches for 139 yards.

This one will be remembered for Alabama's dismantling of the Georgia defense, which had not allowed more than 17 points in a game during the perfect regular season.

"We didn't play our best game," linebacker Nakobe Dean said. "We've got a lot to work on."


After falling into a 10-0 hole on the first play of the second quarter, Alabama outscored the Bulldogs 41-14 the rest of the way. Not even a knee injury that knocked top receiver John Metchie out of the game just before halftime -- and likely ended his season -- could sidetrack the Tide.

Jameson Williams more than picked up the slack for his injured teammate, finishing with 184 yards on seven receptions and two touchdowns. Metchie had six catches for 97 yards and a TD before his injury.

Young set the tone during a dominant second quarter, guiding four consecutive scoring drives -- three of them for touchdowns -- to give the Tide a 24-17 lead at the break.

  photo  Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) celebrates his touchdown against Georgia during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
 
 
  photo  Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) and Alabama defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis (48) hold the Championship trophey after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. Alabama won 41-24. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
 
 
  photo  Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle (9) celebrates his interception and touchdown against Georgia during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
 
 
  photo  Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) runs against Georgia during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
 
 
  photo  Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. Alabama won 41-24. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
 
 
  photo  Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) run s past Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) for a touchdown during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
 
 
  photo  Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young celebrate the teams win after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. Alabama won 41-24. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
 
 
  photo  Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) scores a touchdown during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
 
 
  photo  Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle (9) celebrates his interception and touchdown against Georgia during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
 
 



 Gallery: SEC Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia



Print Headline: Tide hit stride, rout No. 1 Dogs

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