Alabama might have pulled off a phenomenal comeback to win the national title, but here are five reasons why Georgia lost it.
Daily Five: Why Georgia Lost
Yes, the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa was a big deal. No, Georgia didn’t get totally hosed by the officials – Mecole Hardman’s heel certainly looked out of bounds on his 80-yard score.
No, Georgia didn’t lose by going too conservative – as seems to be the common complaint – and yes, Georgia got the biggest break of all with the Andy Pappanastos gag – let’s just call it what it was – of a game-winning field goal attempt.
In the aftermath, talking with several Georgia fans around Atlanta, listening to the grousing and complaining, and totally understanding the hurt and pain that came with this loss – especially after hanging around on the Georgia side of the field for most of the game – sorry to do this, but here’s how and why the Bulldogs aren’t wearing National Champion t-shirts right now.
5. Third Down Conversions
It was the biggest part of the first half of the game. Alabama couldn’t convert a third down try no matter what, and Georgia was hitting on just about every key attempt.
The Crimson Tide never found a groove on third downs even when Tagovailoa came in, finishing the game converting just 3-of-14 chances. On the flip side, Georgia converted 8-of-15 times through the first three quarters, and Bama connected on just two of its ten chances.
In the fourth quarter, when it was time to put the game away? Georgia missed on all three third down tries, and got tagged with what seemed to be a huge 13-yard sack on 3rd-and-6 in overtime.
4. Rushing Yards & Nick Chubb
Nick Chubb is a special NFL-caliber running back who’ll be a multimillionaire very, very soon. But his style didn’t work against Alabama.
He can hit the hole hard and with power, but he’s a bit more of a patient runner at times. There was nowhere for him to go with the ball no matter how the Bulldogs tried to make it happen.
Chubb carried the ball a game-high 18 times for just 25 yards – Bama always had him sniffed out. Even though it wasn’t working all game long, Georgia went to Chubb in overtime, he went almost nowhere on two carries that gained just four yards.
Overall on the year, Georgia failed to hit the 100-yard rushing mark twice. Once was in the 20-19 close call against Notre Dame, and the other was in the blowout loss to Auburn.
Georgia ran for just 133 yards and averaged three yards per carry. It wasn’t Chubb’s fault, but he had no room to move.
3. Jake Fromm’s Accuracy
Sharp early on, Fromm was hitting his short, quick passes that kept Alabama on its toes. Even though he only connected on 11-of-23 passes in the first half, he did enough to be the difference-maker.
In the second half, 80 of his passing yards came on the touchdown to Hardman, finishing with 232 yards with that score and two picks. But late, he missed on too many important throws.
Alabama tied it at 20, and with just under four minutes to play, this was Fromm’s chance to drive for the national title. Instead, he missed two throws in a three-and-out series, and Alabama took the ball and almost won it in regulation.
Throw in the key third down misfire to Riley Ridley late in the third quarter, and outside of the huge throw, the good things he was doing early weren’t quite happening in the second half.
In all, Fromm only completed 16 of his 32 passes.
2. Sony Michel
This was the inexcusable whiff by the Georgia coaching staff.
Again, Alabama figured out Chubb. The D was able to attack him, and it seemed to be totally prepared every time he got the ball. Michel’s style worked better.
Fast, slippery, and more decisive, Michel didn’t wait for anything to develop; he just put his foot on the gas.
He had the one big 26-yard run – leading all rushers with 98 yards on a stunningly low 14 carries – but more than that, he was always doing something positive as the one part of the puzzle that Bama couldn’t quite shut down.
This was the time to keep giving him the ball to see if he could carry the offense to the national title. Instead, Georgia kept going to Chubb.
Michel didn’t get his first touch of the second half until there were just over five minutes to play in the third – he ran for five yards on first down – and that was it. Two plays later, Georgia punted.
He got the ball on the last play of the third – three yards – and got it to kick off the fourth with a ten-yard run, followed up with a five-yard dash, and then a 13-yard run – and in came Chubb. Drive stalled.
It’s not fair that Michel was stopped on his one other carry on a direct snap on 3rd-and-2 – Alabama had that read.
That was the last carry of Sony Michel’s college career.
1. The Dawgs Couldn’t Close
They left the door open just enough for Alabama to kick it in.
Rodrigo Blankenship was excellent with his three field goals, but that’s just it. If you’re kicking field goals against Alabama, there’s a problem.
Georgia got down to the Alabama 24 in the second quarter – and stalled. Field goal.
Next drive, Georgia got down to the Alabama ten – and stalled. Field goal.
The touchdown to end the first half was big, but Bama would’ve been all but done at 17-0. 13-0, as it turned out, wasn’t quite enough.
Of course, in a championship loss like this it’s easy to “if” this thing to death – just ask the Atlanta Falcons – but the Dawgs came so, so close to ending it on two separate plays. They make either one, and it’s probably over.
Dominick Sanders almost had the tipped pass in the end zone, but he just couldn’t quite hang on for the interception. Bama kicked a field goal to pull within seven.
Give Tagovailoa credit for making the big plays late, but Georgia had the Tide in desperation mode, going for it on fourth down on the four with just under four minutes to play. He managed to find Calvin Ridley. Touchdown, tie game.
And then, again, the Dawgs had the national title there for the taking with one good scoring drive, and went three and out.
The D got the sack it needed in overtime, it was 2nd and 26 with Alabama not exactly solid in the kicking department, and then …