SEC Championship Football

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young runs past Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter for a touchdown during the first half of the SEC Championship Game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta.

ATLANTA — Maybe it will have to be enough here in Georgia that the Braves won the World Series.

Maybe it will have to be enough for the rest of college football that Alabama looked, for a few weeks at least, vulnerable.

That’s because in the Southeastern Conference, past is prologue once again. Alabama has won another SEC championship and could well be the No. 1 seed Sunday when the College Football Playoff pairings are released. Georgia is bitterly disappointed yet again, its confidence shattered and left to be swept up with the confetti off of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium floor after another soul-crushing defeat at the hands of the Crimson Tide, this one by a 41-24 count.

And the Heisman Trophy? Well, give that to Bama quarterback Bryce Young after he carved up the Georgia defense — the one which the masses were prepared to erect statues to and write songs about — to the tune of three touchdowns passing and a fourth rushing.

It was once said the sun never sets on the British Empire. It still looks like there is no end to the Alabama dynasty. A dynasty that has won three of the past four SEC titles, a run interrupted only by LSU’s 15-0 2019 juggernaut. A program that is now 8-1 in SEC championship games under Nick Saban, who made the scariest threat any non-Bama college football fan could fathom when he turned 70 in October:

“I got 10 more years, man,” he said.

A sport shudders.

If there was a time to get Alabama, this looked like the year. After winning last season’s SEC and national titles, the Crimson Tide had eight stars go in the top 38 picks of this year’s NFL draft (another record). The Tide lost to Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher 41-38, making Saban 24-1 against former assistants (now 25-1). It barely held off what turned out to be a 6-6 Florida team that fired Dan Mullen, 31-29. It barely held off a 6-6 LSU team that already had fired Ed Orgeron, 20-14. It had to outscore improved but still underdog Arkansas to win 42-35. And it came back from the grave after a moribund first three quarters with no points at Auburn last week to force overtime tied 10-10 before winning 24-22. That archrival also finished 6-6.

Yet, here Bama is. Again.

“What he continues to do at Alabama,” pro football writer Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweeted Saturday of Saban, “is completely insane.”

LSU sports news in your inbox

If you're a Tiger fan you won't want to miss this newsletter. Sign up today.

"We've probably had to overcome more adversity than this team has had to endure and have more resiliency from a competitive standpoint than probably most of the teams we've ever had," Saban said. "I'm really proud of them for that."

It helps if you recruit superstar quarterbacks. Bama has another one in Young, the former five-star recruit who set an SEC championship game record with 421 yards passing, breaking predecessor Mac Jones’ record of 418 yards he recorded just last year against Florida. Bama spotted Georgia a 10-0 lead and still didn’t run the ball with authority (115 net yards), but Young just kept chunking it to Jameson Williams and John Metchie until the latter went out at halftime with a leg injury (Saban said he may be out for the playoffs).

"You have to put a body on a body and cover them," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. "Some of the plays we gave them were gifts."

Even without Metchie, Georgia was powerless to stop the Alabama offense that struggled so mightily through most of the Iron Bowl. Alabama rang up more points on Georgia in one game than the Bulldogs surrendered in September (23 total points), or October (30) or November (30). Georgia had no sacks on Young, who went down seven times at Auburn. The Bulldogs got seven hurries, but often the quarterback who doesn’t really like to run just ran away from the pressure.

“At the end of the day,” Smart said, “you’ve got to get to him or he’s going to get to you.”

Georgia, despite all that regular-season greatness, couldn’t avoid becoming the first No. 1-ranked team (according to ESPN) to lose on conference championship Saturday since 2009 when Alabama blasted Florida 32-13. Everyone wondered what the Bulldogs would do when pressured, when they needed some elite quarterback play in a tight spot and could only turn to former walk-on Stetson Bennett.

We saw what. And it wasn’t pretty.

Georgia will still be in the playoff. But so will Alabama, the only perennial CFP player likely to make it this year with Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma out of the picture. After being so impressed with the Bulldogs all season long, I no longer believe Georgia will win the national championship. I sincerely doubt the Bulldogs believe they will, either.

You know who does believe? Alabama. Despite all the holes in the Bama armor this season, here goes the Tide rolling into the postseason like it still owns the sport. Still the team to beat.

The fact that a lot of Bama fans are no doubt Braves fans one state removed has to be driving them mad on Peachtree Street.

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com