ATLANTA – Alabama is heading back to the national championship game – by a mere 4 yards.
AJ McCarron threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 3:15 remaining, and the No. 2 Crimson Tide barely held off No. 3 Georgia, 32-28, in a Southeastern Conference title game for the ages Saturday.
After an apparent game-clinching interception by Alabama was overturned after looking at the replay, Georgia’s Aaron Murray completed a 15-yard pass to Arthur Lynch, a 23-yarder to Tavarres King and a 26-yarder to Lynch, who was hauled down at the Alabama 8 as the clock continued to run.
The Bulldogs were out of timeouts.
Instead of spiking the ball and gathering themselves, the Bulldogs snapped the ball with 9 seconds to go. Murray threw a pass in the flat to Chris Conley, who slipped down at the 4.
Georgia couldn’t get off another play. Alabama celebrated as confetti fell from the Georgia Dome room. The Bulldogs collapsed on the field, stunned they had come so close to knocking off the team that has won two of the past three national titles.
The Tide will get a chance to make it three out of four when they face top-ranked Notre Dame for the BCS crown on Jan. 7 in Miami.
For the Bulldogs (11-2), the consolation prize likely will be a spot in the Capital One Bowl, although they certainly looked like a team fully deserving of a BCS bid.