At halftime, it looked like Alabama was dead in the water. Georgia was up 13-0, and the Crimson Tide’s offense was struggling to do much of anything.
When the teams came back out for the start of the third quarter, head coach Nick Saban did what most would consider unthinkable: he pulled his starting quarterback for a true freshman backup. And it worked out marvelously.
Tua Tagovailoa entered in place of Jalen Hurts and pulled off the comeback, leading Alabama back to tie the game in regulation and tossing a 41-yard laser to a wide-open DeVonta Smith in overtime to beat Georgia with a final score of 26-23.
Alabama had a chance to win at the end of the fourth, but kicker Andy Pappanastos shanked the potential game-winning field goal wide left, his second miss of the game. Georgia’s kicker Rodrigo Blakenship nailed a 51-yarder, his third of the night, to begin overtime, and it seemed like the Bulldogs had the advantage following a sack on Tagovailoa for a loss of 16 yards.
One play later, it was over, with Smith racing past two Georgia defenders to reel in the final pass, his only catch of the night.
Hurts had just 21 yards on 3 for 8 passing in the first half, along with 47 yards on 6 carries. The Crimson Tide aired it out a lot more with Tagovailoa under center; he finished with 166 yards and 3 TDs on 14 for 24 passing. Tagovailoa had a lot of shaky passes, including a bad interception to Deandre Baker, but for a freshman getting his first significant game action, he performed about as well as you could hope.
The other two TDs went to Calvin Ridley (4 catches, 32 yards) and Henry Ruggs III (3 catches, 29 yards). Bo Scarbrough didn’t get many touches; he had just 4 carries for 23 yards, with his most notable moment being tossing an obscenity toward President Donald Trump while walking out to the field during pregame. Freshman Najee Harris had a much bigger impact, with 64 yards on 6 rushes.
Jake Fromm had plenty of nice moments, but he fell victim to inconsistent accuracy and drops from his wideouts. He threw for 232 yards and a TD on 16 for 32 passing, with 2 INTs to Tony Brown and Raekwon Davis.
Tagovailoa was awarded the offensive MVP award for his performance. Alabama defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne got the defensive MVP honor, who had 6 total tackles and a number of QB hurries. This is the sixth title win for the Crimson Tide during Saban’s tenure as head coach.