Georgia and Alabama faced off in the 2021 SEC Championship on Saturday in Atlanta. The game’s winner will likely be the No. 1 seed for the College Football Playoff.

- Thirty minutes before kickoff, it was evident it’s a Bulldogs-heavy crowd. Georgia fans, who always take over the venue when playing in Atlanta, are starved for a title. Alabama is often the greatest obstacle in their path, having won six national championships since 2009.

caption arrowCaption
Football fans enjoy tailgating at The Home Depot Backyard prior to the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, December 4, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Football fans enjoy tailgating at The Home Depot Backyard prior to the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, December 4, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption
Football fans enjoy tailgating at The Home Depot Backyard prior to the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, December 4, 2021. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

- Georgia’s first possession fizzled out at midfield, but it could’ve been worse. Quarterback Stetson Bennett almost threw a pick six on third down and 10. Alabama safety Jordan Battle dropped the potential interception.

- Jack Podlesny’s 38-yard field goal capped an 11-play drive that put Georgia ahead, 3-0, at he 6:01 mark of the first quarter. The biggest play of the drive was Bennett’s 18-yard completion to tight end Brock Bauers at the Crimson Tide 18.

- Alabama pinned Georgia at the 3 on its ensuing punt, but the Bulldogs assembled a 9-play, 97-yard touchdown drive. Tight end Darnell Washington used his size to haul in a touchdown pass from Bennett on the first play of the second quarter.

The biggest play of that scoring drive: George Pickens’ tracking the ball and making an impressive 37-yard catch inside the 10. Pickens, who missed almost the entire season due to a torn ACL, rejoined the Bulldogs for the Georgia Tech game. The rich grew richer with Pickens, a first-round receiving talent, back on the field.

What’s next for UGA?

After the Georgia Bulldogs’ first loss of the season to Alabama, what happens next?

The Bulldogs fell from No. 1 to No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings and are set to face No. 2. Michigan (12-1) in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

Journalists from the AJC are providing complete coverage of the SEC Championship and the decisions on Sunday about the College Football Playoffs.

Readers will find updated coverage in print and ePaper editions, the AJC app and on ajc.com.

Sunday ePaper College Football Extra: Expanded photos and coverage of UGA and the SEC Championship

On Twitter: Follow UGA reporter Chip Towers @ctowersajc, @AJCSports and @ajc

On Facebook: UGASportsNewsNow

On Instagram: @ajcnews

Championship Saturday: Scores from all the conference title games

Latest UGA updates

- The Crimson Tide answered with Jameson Williams’ 67-yard touchdown. The speedster snagged the ball in the open field and dashed untouched to the end zone. It was the longest touchdown against Georgia’s vaunted defense this season. Alabama cut its deficit to 10-7.

- After a Georgia punt, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young led a magnificent touchdown drive to give the Crimson Tide the lead. Young capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to John Metchie, who also had a 40-yard grab earlier in the possession.

- Alabama extended its lead to 17-10 with a field goal at the 3:28 point of the second quarter. It was the third straight possession Alabama scored. The 17 points already matched the most surrendered by Georgia this season.

- The Bulldogs tied the game two minutes before half on a three-play, 75-yard drive that included four penalties. Ladd McConkey’s 32-yard catch and run produced the score for Georgia. Alabama responded with another touchdown drive. Young’s 11-yard rushing score put the Crimson Tide ahead 24-17 at halftime.

- Young threw for 286 yards in the first half, breaking the previous high for an SEC Championship (Cam Newton, 2010). He oversaw an Alabama offense that produced 365 total yards before intermission. Young went 17-for-27 with three total touchdowns, leading Alabama to four consecutive scoring drives.

- Bennett, meanwhile, was 11-for-16 for 168 yards and two touchdowns at half. Zamir White led Georgia in rushing with 25 yards on five carries. James Cook was just behind him with six carries for 22 yards.

- While Metchie is out the remainder of the game with an injury, it didn’t stall Alabama’s offense to start the second half. The Crimson Tide opened with another scoring drive: Young hit Williams on a 55-yard touchdown, putting Alabama ahead 31-17.

- The Bulldogs squandered a scoring opportunity at the end of the third. They went for it on fourth and nine from the Alabama 19. Bennett was pressured and his pass fell incomplete. Kirby Smart opted for the fourth-down attempt over kicking a field goal, which would’ve cut the deficit from 14 to 11, that’d remain a two-score difference.

- Battle atoned for his dropped interception earlier in the contest by picking off Bennett and returning it to the end zone in the fourth quarter, likely putting the dagger in Georgia.

- Bauer continued his standout performance by rumbling through Alabama defenders for a touchdown with 9:42 left. It trimmed Georgia’s deficit to 38-24.

- Alabama won 41-24, continuing its dominance over Georgia. The Crimson Tide likely secured the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, while Georgia will probably bump down to No. 2 or No. 3. The teams could meet again Jan. 10 in Indianapolis for the national championship.

About the Author

Editors' Picks