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2012 SEC title game: the greatest in conference history?

SEC Championship - Alabama v Georgia Getty Images

For all the annual pomp and circumstance surrounding the SEC championship game, more times than not the preeminent college football conference’s showcase has turned into an unabashed rout.

In the 20 such games played prior to this season, 16 of them were decided by 10 points or more.  More than half (11) saw the winning team romp by more than two touchdowns, with three of those devolving into 30-plus-point bloodbaths.  Just two had been decided by six points or less, and those were back in the pre-BCS days of 1994 and 1997.

The former game — Florida’s one-point win over unbeaten Alabama — and the latter — one that saw a Peyton Manning-led-Tennessee squad overcome a 20-10 deficit on Auburn en route to its one-point win — have widely been considered the greatest in the history of the conference, as has the 2008 matchup of No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida.  And then along came the 2012 edition of what’s turned into a BCS title-game play-in, one that can stand firmly alongside, if not above, the others in the conference annals.

In Alabama’s 32-28 win over Georgia, Saturday night’s instant classic had something none of the aforementioned could claim: a combination of what made all three of those games classics in their own right.

Lofty rankings for both teams as in 2008?  Check, with the Tide clocking in at No. 2 and Georgia at No. 3.  A double-digit third-quarter deficit overcome by the winning team as in 1997?  Check, with the Tide digging its way out of an 11-point hole.  A game-winning drive in the latter half of the fourth quarter?  Check, with AJ McCarron reprising the role made famous by Danny Wuerffel.

And the stakes for this year’s game?  Yes, ’97 Tennessee and ’94 Alabama both had titles within their grasp, but only ’08 Alabama-Florida and ’12 Alabama-Georgia had a shot at national championship on the line for both teams involved.

Mix in some late-game controversy… momentum swings that tested the hearts and stomachs of the faithful on both sides… one head coach attempting to shake the big-game gorilla off his back while the other looked to continue a seemingly inexorable march toward coaching immortality… add all of that together and add a splash of the raw emotion on display from both sides at game’s end, and you have a rock-solid case for 2012 stacking up against any other year.

Five yards and four points separating the two teams after 60 minutes of football, with a spot in the BCS title game at stake?  Case closed.

While a football game’s beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and knowing full well the immediacy of sporting moments ofttimes transcend the fading memories of games gone by, the 2012 SEC title showdown can lay its head on the pillow this morning armed with the knowledge that it was indeed one of the greatest of all-time.  And the greatest ever in my little corner of the college football world.

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26 Responses to “2012 SEC title game: the greatest in conference history?”
  1. rsmeans says: Dec 2, 2012 2:47 AM

    Well it was a great game primarily because of Alabama mistakes. But 2012 seems to be a year when anybody can lose to another good team. Alabama should be able to win their third title in the last 4 years and the Crystal ball should stay inside the state of Alabama for the fourth straight year but Alabama given all their talent and coaching did not meet expectations this year. I am glad we did not have to play TAM who I feel at the end of the year was the best team in college football.

  2. bleedburgandyandgold says: Dec 2, 2012 3:16 AM

    Was a fantastic game! I enjoyed it!

  3. magoopaintrock says: Dec 2, 2012 3:30 AM

    To me it wasn’t that great of a game. The clock running out like that after a great drive is a terrible way to finish, and the football fan in me felt sick for Georgia fans everywhere. I can’t understand how anybody but Bama fans could enjoy that ending.

    Also, the only reason this game was a national semifinal was because Oregon and Kansas State both crumbled under the pressure two weeks ago. That takes away from it too. If Bama and UGA were both unbeaten, then yes, it would be an all-time classic, but this wasn’t exactly an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.

  4. dcroz says: Dec 2, 2012 7:49 AM

    I can certainly sympathize with Georgia fans this morning. As a ‘Bama fan who saw his team come out on the short end of the stick in those 1994 and 2008 games with so much at stake (though really, the NC was not actually in our grasp in ’94 as we were #3 behind unbeaten Nebraska and Penn State squads going in, they both remained that way, and the bowl tie-ins at the time would have prevented us from playing either one should we have moved to #2 in any event) I remember the sick feeling I had for us to come so close to championship glory yet so far away. That did not diminish the greatness of those games, however. The 2012 SECCG, though, surpassed them all, and for the reasons that JT laid out above. I’m just happy I can enjoy that fact instead of begrudgingly admit it as I had to do for the other two.

    Congratulations to Georgia for a fantastic game and a fantastic season. Now, it’s time for the SEC vs. The World portion of the schedule.

  5. wabbitslayer says: Dec 2, 2012 8:00 AM

    What will be an even more nauseating feeling than watching Conley fall down and seeing those seconds tick off is will be seeing another SEC team (I refuse to state the name) get a BCS bowl game that will be awarded to them simply b/c they did not win their division…

    Congratulations, Tide. But it’s a shame that the game is 60 minutes and not 60 minutes and ten seconds.

  6. madtownthrowdown says: Dec 2, 2012 8:39 AM

    I feel bad for the dude who caught that pass. You could see he didn’t want to but his natural reaction got the best of him. Better luck next year Georgia. I will say- Georgia was a lot better than I thought they would be. Still think they deserve the BCS bowl over Florida though. Had they not won their division they’d be getting one.

  7. bamasleeper13 says: Dec 2, 2012 8:57 AM

    Every team has heartbreakers in their history.Georgia is a great team, and I for one am glad we don’t have to play them again! It was a truly great SEC slugfest and yes JT you have it right, this one will go down in the books as one of the best, ever! Right down to the last play to the last second. Bring on the Irish!!! ROLL TIDE!

  8. kansas525 says: Dec 2, 2012 9:07 AM

    I thought it was sloppy and the “great” SEC defenses that could not stop the run when they knew their opponent was going to run. What is great about that.

    Actually the game was decided at the end of the first half, when the umpire did not call the very late hit, and, to the helmet, when the Aaron Murphy pass was intercepted. If that had been called, Georgia, not Alabama would have scored. Even if only a field goal, that would have been a 6 point change and Georgia would have won. PS, he had called a much less serious hit on Georgia to extend the Alabama drive and allow them to score. Once again, Alabama, with an extremely weak schedule, will play for a national championship.

    Rarely do this, but this year I will be rooting for Notre Dame.

  9. jimbasil says: Dec 2, 2012 9:09 AM

    It was nice to see Georgia football become almost relevant after almost thirty years.

  10. effjohntaylornorelation says: Dec 2, 2012 9:40 AM

    Until next year. Who cares?

  11. rolltide510 says: Dec 2, 2012 10:14 AM

    LOL@ “very late hit” on the interception. The rest of your post makes it clear you don’t know anything about football, but if you did you’d know after interceptions the quarterback becomes another defender who can be blocked.

    Of course, I guess I can’t blame laymen for thinking that when the CBS announcers call for a UN war crimes tribunal.

  12. thegeneral7694 says: Dec 2, 2012 10:15 AM

    @kansas: It wasn’t a roughing the passer, it was a helmet to helmet hit AFTER the interception. If it had been called, Bama would’ve still gotten the ball, just 15 yards further back. Clearly a game such as this wasn’t decided by one no-call in the first half…that’s ridiculous. Especially since, if you want to play the “blame the refs” game, Bama fans can play that, too. How about the pass interference penalty on 3rd down that got waved off because the pass was tipped….except it wasn’t tipped at all, and the replay proved that. That PI gets called, and Bama gets a first down rather than having to try a long FG….which got blocked and returned for a TD. You wanna talk about a swing in points? How about a 10-14 point swing on that? See, two can play at that game. Bottom line is that it was an AWESOME game played by 2 extremely talented and well-coached teams. Congrats to UGA, but Bama won it fair and square. Root for ND all you want…it won’t help them.

  13. jimbo75025 says: Dec 2, 2012 10:40 AM

    I am fan of another SEC school that certainly was not represented last night-I hate Alabama-one week a year. Just like I hate Florida, UGA, South Carolina, whatever SEC school we are playing-one week a year.

    I understand UGA being disappointed, but no need to bellyache-your team played a great game and earned respect. Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose. Better to go down swinging and putting on a heckuva show like UGA did.

    Best of luck to Bama in the championship. As I said in a previous post, it is now up to you to make it 7 in a row.

  14. grendelg says: Dec 2, 2012 12:05 PM

    I’m a UGA fan and I feel no shame in losing that game. The team came to play and left nothing in the locker room. I was worried it would be like the USC game where everything fell apart, but this team showed they’re made of sterner stuff. Alabama is a tough team and they deserved the win, but if they’d come in thinking this would be an easy game or looking past UGA they would have lost.

    Congrats to ‘Bama on another NC.

    What fans outside the SEC don’t understand is the respect we feel for the other programs. We understand how tough even having a winning season in the SEC is. Just ask Mizzou… They went from 8-5 to 5-7 just by moving to the SEC. A 10-2 team in the SEC is the equivalent of an undefeated team in any other conference.

    Which team outside the SEC would you give even odds over USC, TAM, UF, LSU, UGA, or Bama?

  15. snaxdsp says: Dec 2, 2012 12:37 PM

    Another Bama squeaker. The Atlanta Falcons of NCAA. I hope the Irish best their brains in

  16. vanmorrissey says: Dec 2, 2012 1:26 PM

    Who can say that wasn’t a great game except for haters out there? Bama’s O line was the difference but Ga put up a heck of a fight. Instant classic. Done.

  17. Deb says: Dec 2, 2012 1:35 PM

    I’ll always remember the ’99 championship because my brother was married that day and the extended family–minus bride and groom, of course–watched the game together in a Tuscaloosa hotel room after the wedding. It was wonderful to kick back after all the stress and watch Bama win. And it was the last time we were all together.

    Some of my friends here in Gator Country were extremely overconfident in ’09, so Bama’s victory was sweet. That was a special defense, and I’m still wild about Mark Ingram.

    But 2012 was definitely the most heart-stopping game for me. It really could have gone either way, and I have mad respect for how the Bulldogs played. You couldn’t ask for a more exciting contest.

  18. florida727 says: Dec 2, 2012 1:51 PM

    Just my personal opinion obviously, but the passage of time always makes the most recent also the “GOAT” (greatest of all time). Very common for people (media in particular) to sensationalize the immediate game, because, frankly, it’s their job. I’d hesitate to label this one the best ever. Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching every minute of it. But best EVER? That’s a pretty lofty tag to put on a game that featured an awful lot of mistakes (by both teams)… especially by Georgia at the end. Had they spiked the ball, as everyone expected, run a couple of plays and maybe even scored as time expired to upset Alabama and advance to their first title game in 30 years… hmm… maybe…

  19. onlyoneleft says: Dec 2, 2012 5:01 PM

    grendlg: USC does not play in the SEC.

  20. amosalanzostagg says: Dec 2, 2012 5:25 PM

    onlyoneleft wrote on Dec 2, 2012 5:01 PM

    grendlg: USC does not play in the SEC.

    Okay, mensa, what does USC stand for if not foe the University of South Carolina?….U. S. C.

    In the words of Red Foreman.”Dumbass”

  21. amosalanzostagg says: Dec 2, 2012 5:27 PM

    onlyoneleft wrote on Dec 2, 2012 5:01 PM

    grendlg: USC does not play in the SEC.

    Okay, mensa, what does USC stand for if not for the University of South Carolina?….U. S. C.

    In the words of Red Foreman.”Dumbass”

  22. onlyoneleft says: Dec 2, 2012 5:52 PM

    Okay, mensa, what does USC stand for if not for the University of South Carolina?….U. S. C.

    Dumb Ass, USC is for University of Southern California. South Carolina is at best: South Carolina. You are as confused as a termite in a yoyo.

  23. tide4life says: Dec 2, 2012 6:39 PM

    The Dawgs brought it, and lost mostly to the clock. Had that game gone on for another hour, I think it still woulda come down to someone trying to make the winning score with a single digit on the clock. And maybe a bench full of wounded on both sidelines.
    Damn good game, Dawgs, and never mind that sports media bulls**t about “the big game.” You acquitted yourselves well.
    This has been the best NCAAFB season in a long time.

  24. onlyoneleft says: Dec 2, 2012 6:46 PM

    Dawgs played darn good. Richt, as usual, looks like he just woke up and not sure of where he is.

  25. skinnypigeon says: Dec 2, 2012 8:42 PM

    JT, you’re the reason I started following CFT years ago and the only reason I still do.

  26. afsgtret says: Dec 3, 2012 11:32 PM

    would like to see al play fl this year. i really believe fl is a better all around team. much harder schedule. ala opponents were70/73. fla opponents were 92/50. although ga beat fl, they arent the best in the east. i am not a fan of fl or al or ga, just my thoughts. any good team can beat another good team, if the calls go their way.

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