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The Logical Fallacy of Alabama

By Matt Smith
SouthernPigskin.com
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It doesn’t make sense, but it’s the same end result.

Logic.

Noun.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, logic is “a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration”.

I’m not quite sure what all that means, but I do know that logic would suggest that Georgia is the 2018 SEC champion. Its quarterback was smoking hot. Its defense shut down the Heisman Trophy favorite. What more do you need to win a football game?

Well, we forgot about the one team that continues to defy logic.

The story of the 2018 SEC Championship Game looked to be about Georgia exorcising 11 months of demons from how Alabama wrote a B-rated script in last year’s overtime comeback win over the Bulldogs to claim the national championship.

Instead, it was the Crimson Tide who wrote a revised blockbuster script in dealing yet another gut punch to a fanbase that has taken more blows than Rocky, erasing a 28-14 second-half deficit even mostly without star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in a 35-28 victory to win their fourth SEC title in the last five seasons.

Tagovailoa had by far his worst day in his 13th career start, completing just 10 of 25 passes and throwing two interceptions while dealing with a knee and ankle injury before his day ended early with 11 minutes to play and Alabama trailing 28-21.

In came Jalen Hurts, who in January been replaced by Tagovailoa with Alabama losing a championship game to Georgia in Mercedes-Benz Stadium and completing just three of his eight passes. Tagovailoa famously led a dramatic comeback to win the national title for the Crimson Tide, outscoring Georgia 26-10 in the second half and overtime after assuming a 13-0 deficit when he entered the game.

On Saturday, the roles were reversed, with Hurts coming off the bench to replace Tagovailoa with Alabama trailing in a championship game against Georgia in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Hurts promptly led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives, first finishing the drive in which Tagovailoa was knocked out of the game with a third-and-12 conversion followed by a picture-perfect third-down touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy to tie the game at 28-28.

After a botched Georgia fake punt attempt gave Alabama the ball back near midfield, Alabama marched 52 yards in just five plays, capped by a 15-yard touchdown run by Hurts for the game-clinching score. Hurts completed seven of nine passes for 82 yards and was the hero of a game we’ll be talking about for years to come.

How does that make any sense? In his three last meaningful games – the final three of the 2017 season – Hurts was downright bad. In a loss to Auburn, an ugly win over Clemson, and the first half of the national championship game, Hurts averaged fewer than four yards per attempt, and his fate as a backup was sealed after Tagovailoa’s masterful second half. How could a cold Hurts muster a performance like what he delivered on Saturday after Georgia’s defense had made Tagovailoa miserable for three quarters?

Alabama lost the turnover battle. Alabama had fewer yards per pass attempt than Georgia. Alabama had the ball for 11 fewer minutes than Georgia. Yet, at the end of the game, it was Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide yet again on the podium holding a trophy.

Logic defied.

That’s what Alabama does. Even though we’ve seen this type of jaw-dropping performance, either in dominant or comeback fashion, many times, it’s still hard to process how this keeps happening. For Georgia, that shock has come with pain, as arguably the three most dramatic wins of the Saban era at Alabama – the two this calendar year and the 2012 SEC Championship Game – have come against the Bulldogs.

The win ensures Alabama will be ranked No. 1 in Sunday’s final College Football Playoff rankings. The Crimson Tide will resume their quest for a sixth national title in 10 years on Dec. 29 in either Miami or Dallas-Fort Worth against most likely Oklahoma, but possibly these same Bulldogs for a third time in 2018.

Georgia has a legitimate case for the No. 4 spot after taking No. 1 to the wire, but seems more likely than not to fall short as a two-loss team without a conference title, and with one of the losses being a 36-16 whitewashing to LSU in Baton Rouge in October. If the ‘Dawgs do miss the top four, they’ll be in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day against 9-4 Texas, which fell to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game earlier on Saturday.

The Bulldogs held leads of 7-0, 21-7, and 28-14, but all were erased by the team that college football talk radio pioneer Bill King has named “The Death Star”, a reference to the ultimate weapon in Star Wars. That weapon was thought to be Tagovailoa, as it was in January. It turned out to be Hurts, who hadn’t started a game all season.

It doesn’t make sense, but it’s the same end result. Alabama defies logic, and Georgia was once again the planet that The Death Star destroyed.

Matt Smith - Matt is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and has spent most of his life pondering why most people in the Mid-Atlantic actually think there are more important things than college football. He has blogged for College Football News, covering both national news as well as Notre Dame and the service academies. He credits Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel for his love of college football and tailgating at Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn for his love of sundresses. Matt covers the ACC as well as the national scene.