The teams' national title clash in January tops this list
For the first time ever, a conference championship game will be a rematch of the national championship when Alabama and Georgia face off on Saturday for the SEC title. The programs have played 68 times over the past 120-plus years with the Crimson Tide holding a 39-25-4 lead. Last January’s games was the best ever, but the two programs have played many more great games along the way. Here are the five best.
5. Georgia 26, Alabama 23 (OT)
Sept. 22, 2007 – Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Nick Saban had led the Crimson Tide to a 3-0 start in his first season in Tuscaloosa. The Bulldogs also were 3-0 and both were ranked in the top 25. Georgia took a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter, but Alabama managed to tie the game with 1:09 left to send it in to overtime. Alabama got the first possession, but had to settle for a field goal. Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford then wasted no time and hit Mikey Henderson on a 25-yard streak into the end zone for a 26-23 win.
4. Georgia 18, Alabama 17
Sept. 18, 1965 – Athens, Ga.
The Bulldogs shocked No. 5 Alabama by jumping out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive tackle George Patton. The Crimson Tide battled back to tie the game and then in the fourth quarter, quarterback Steve Sloan completed four straight passes and then ran into the end zone to put ‘Bama up 17-10. Georgia responded on the next drive with a hook and ladder. Quarterback Kirby Moore threw a short pass to Pat Hodgson, who lateralled the ball to Bob Taylor as he was falling to the ground. Taylor then sprinted 73 yards into the end zone. The Bulldogs then went for two, and Moore hit Hodgson in the end zone to win the game 18-17. Photos later revealed that Hodgson’s knee was down before he lateralled the ball, but that is water under the bridge. Georgia went 6-4 and Alabama still won the national title.
3. Alabama 20, Georgia 16
Sept. 2, 1985 – Athens, Ga.
In a Labor Day season-opener, the Crimson Tide led 13-9 with less than a minute to go, but were forced to punt from close to their own end zone. Bulldog linebacker Terrie Webster broke through Alabama’s line to block Chris Mohr’s punt and it was recovered in the end zone by Cal Ruff to put Georgia up 16-13. Crimson Tide quarterback Mike Shula, who had thrown for 65 yards prior to the final drive, led his team 71 yards with no timeouts and hit Albert Bell with a 17-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left to win the game. It is safe to say that final minute of the game was the most thrilling 60 seconds of the head-to-head series.
2. Alabama 32, Georgia 28 (2012 SEC Championship Game)
Dec. 1, 2012 – Atlanta
Alabama was ranked No. 2 and Georgia was No. 3 so the winner of the SEC Championship Game was playing for the national title. After a scoreless first quarter, the Bulldogs struck with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Jay Rome. The Crimson Tide tied the game with a 41-yard touchdown run by Eddie Lacy and then took a 10-7 halftime lead. The teams traded scores in the third and fourth quarters, but Alabama pulled ahead for good with a 45-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper to take a 32-28 lead with 3:15 left. Georgia drove all the way down to Alabama’s 8-yard line and Murray threw a pass towards the end zone that was deflected into the hands of receiver Chris Conley, who caught it at the 5-yard line. The clock expired before the Bulldogs could run another play. Alabama would go on to throttle Notre Dame in the BCS title game a month later.
1. Alabama 26, Georgia 23 (OT) (2018 College Football Playoff National Championship)
Jan. 8, 2018 – Atlanta
The SEC champion Bulldogs dominated Alabama early and led 13-0 at the half. For the second, Alabama head coach Nick Saban replaced his starting quarterback of two years, Jalen Hurts, with freshman Tua Tagovailoa. The rest is history. Tagovailoa kick-started the Tide offense and led them to a 20-20 tie at the end of regulation. Georgia got the ball first in overtime and kicked a field goal. The Bulldogs then sacked Tagovailoa on the first play of Alabama’s possession for a 16-yard loss. Tagovailoa got up and tossed a picture-perfect, 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith to win the game. The play will be forever known as “2nd-and-26" by ‘Bama fans.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.