Alabama didn’t score in the first half so Nick Saban made a bold move.
He turned to freshman Tua Tagovailoa in the second half and the quarterback gave the offense a spark and then hit a 41-yard TD pass in overtime as Alabama rallied for a 26-23 victory Monday in the College Football Playoff championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
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- (Alabama 26, Georgia 23): After losing 16 yards on a sack on first down, Tua Tagovailoa hits DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard TD strike. Ballgame. National champs, Alabama!
- (Georgia 23, Alabama 20): Rodrigo Blankenship nails a 51-yard field goal after Jake Fromm was sacked for a 13-yard loss that could have doomed the Bulldogs. Now, it’s Alabama’s turn to win it, tie it or lose it.
- Overtime: Alabama has a chance, but Andy Pappanastos’ 36-yard field goal sailed wide left on the final play of regulation. So we’re going to overtime tied, 20-20.
- (Alabama 20, Georgia 20, 4Q, 3:49): Tua Tagovailoa hits Calvin Ridley for a 7-yard score on third-and-4 and that 13-point deficit is gone. The Tagovailoa decision looks like gold.
- (Georgia 20, Alabama 13, 4Q, 9:24): Andy Pappanastos connects from 30 yards.
- End of third quarter: Georgia leads by 10 entering the final quarter. Alabama has the ball.
- (Georgia 20, Alabama 10, 3Q, 5:15): Alabama had a promising drive stall in the redzone, and had to settle for a field goal.
- (Georgia 20, Alabama 7, 3Q, 6:52): Georgia responded immediately as Jake Fromm hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown strike.
- (Georgia 13, Alabama 7, 3Q, 8:52): Freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa hits Henry Ruggs for a 6-yards score to get Alabama on the board.
- (Georgia 13, Alabama 0, 2Q, 0:07): Mecole Hardman scores from the 1 as the Bulldogs go into the break rolling.
- (Georgia 6, Alabama 0: 2Q, 7:33): Georgia got deep into the red zone, but could only come up with another field goal.
- (Georgia 3, Alabama 0: 2Q, 14:14): The Bulldogs struck first. Aided by penalties on the Crimson Tide an a big run from Sony Michel, Georgia added a 41-yard field goal.
Alabama-Georgia game time, information
When: Monday, January 8, 2018
Time: 8:17 p.m. ET kickoff
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Line: Alabama (-4)
It will be an All-SEC battle for the championship game as No. 3 Georgia takes on No. 4 Alabama. The game has a number of intriguing subplots.
For one, the game will match Nick Saban against his former defensive coordinator in Kirby Smart. The now Georgia coach worked with Saban at Alabama from 2008-15. Saban has never lost to one of his former assistants, as the Alabama coach is 11-0 in such games. And each one of those games has been at least a 14-point Alabama victory.
The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs took two very different paths to get here. Both teams got off to great starts but both suffered regular season losses to Auburn. Georgia picked wins over Notre Dame and Mississippi State and cruised to big wins in every game, sans the Auburn loss. But the Bulldogs got their revenge in the SEC Championship game, beating Auburn 28-7. Then Georgia rallied back to beat Oklahoma in a thrilling, double overtime contest in the Rose Bowl.
The Bulldogs will be looking to win their first national title since 1980, back when Herschel Walker was carrying the load for the Bulldogs. This year’s Georgia team is led by its running backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who have both rushed for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season. At quarterback, the Bulldogs bring in Jake Fromm. The Georgia freshman will look to do something that Alabama starter Jalen Hurts could not do a year ago and that is win a national title as a true freshman, something that has only been done once.
The Crimson Tide will be without two key starters in the national championship game. Nick Saban officially ruled out linebacker Anfernee Jennings and right guard Lester Cotton.
Jennings, a redshirt sophomore, suffered a knee injury in Alabama’s 24-6 Sugar Bowl win over Clemson this past Monday. Cotton also suffered a knee injury, and was spotted on crutches in the locker room following the game.
Jennings went down in the fourth quarter and did not return. Cotton left the game in the third quarter, and was replaced by J.C. Hassenauer. At this point, Alabama could play Terrell Lewis and Christian Miller at the same time. There’s also the option of playing Jamey Mosley, who filled in when other guys were injured throughout the year. Freshman Chris Allen is an option as well.
As for replacing Cotton, Alabama could go with Hassenauer again or use freshman Jedrick Wills. Wills said he’s been playing some guard in practice this week.