Alabama running back Jam Miller, left, celebrates with wide receiver Emmanuel Henderson Jr. after Miller scores a touchdown during the Crimson Tide’s 27-24 win over Georgia in the SEC championship game on Saturday in Atlanta. John Bazemore/Associated Press

ATLANTA — Alabama is again the top dog in the Southeastern Conference – and perhaps headed to the College Football Playoff – after ending Georgia’s 29-game winning streak with a 27-24 victory over the No. 1 Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday.

Now, the big question: Is Georgia’s bid for a third straight national title over?

Iron Bowl hero Jalen Milroe threw a pair of touchdown passes and No. 8 Alabama’s defense dominated much of the way after giving up a score on Georgia’s opening possession – a compelling playoff statement for a Crimson Tide team that lost at home to Texas early in the season.

“A lot of people doubted this team,” said Milroe, who was benched early in the season but has bounced back to become one of college football’s most dynamic players. “I never gave up on this team. That’s the biggest thing.”

Alabama (12-1) sorted out its quarterback situation and hasn’t lost since. The victory over Georgia was the Tide’s 11th in a row and may be good enough to push them from No. 8 in the CFP rankings to a prized berth in the final four.

“This is a team,” said Alabama Coach Nick Saban, who may get a chance to add to his record seven national titles. “I’ve never been prouder of a group of guys.”


Georgia (12-1) will have to hope its dominance over the last two seasons persuades the selection committee to give them a do-over in the playoffs. That’s just what happened two years ago, when Alabama romped to a 41-24 victory over the top-ranked Bulldogs in the SEC title game and both teams were invited to play on.

Georgia avenged its SEC defeat that time with a 33-18 victory over Alabama in the national championship game, and the Bulldogs made it two titles in a row with a 15-0 season in 2022. Their hopes of becoming the first team in the poll era to win three straight titles is now in the hands of others.

“I have no question we’re one of the best four teams,” Coach Kirby Smart said, already lobbying. “There’s two classes of our kids that haven’t lost a game. They’re resilient, they’re fighters. In life, sometimes you can’t get better until you lose.”

Georgia closed the gap to 20-17 after a 28-yard punt return by little-used Anthony Evans III set up Carson Beck’s sneak into the end zone for Georgia’s first touchdown since the opening minutes.

But, with a drive for the ages, Milroe hooked up with Isaiah Bond on four completions for 56 yards – rekindling memories of a week earlier when the two connected on a fourth-and-31 touchdown pass that miraculously pulled out an Iron Bowl victory over Auburn.

Roydell Williams scored on a 1-yard run that restored Alabama’s lead to 27-17 with 5:47 remaining.


Georgia didn’t go quietly. The Bulldogs hustled down the field for another TD, scoring on Kendall Milton’s fourth-and-goal run from the 1 with 2:52 left to again get within a field goal.

But Milroe broke off a 30-yard run – and wisely went down inbounds to keep the clock running – and Alabama ran out the clock.

“Georgia’s got a really good team,” Saban said. “But our guys overcame. They proved today they can win against anybody.”

Georgia marched right down the field on its first possession, grabbing a 7-0 lead on Kendall Milton’s 17-yard touchdown run.

But the rest of the half belonged to the Crimson Tide, who outgained the Bulldogs 193-55 in total yards after Georgia’s opening salvo.

Groza Award finalist Will Reichard booted a 43-yard field goal to become the leading career scorer in NCAA history with 533 points, breaking a tie with former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.


Alabama was just getting warmed up.

After missing on his first four passes, Milroe found his range. He completed six of eight for 110 yards, including touchdown passes of 28 yards to running back Jam Miller on a busted coverage and a 15-yarder to former Georgia receiver Jermaine Burton with 48 seconds left in the half.

Miller’s TD capped a 10-play, 92-yard drive, giving a huge boost of confidence to the Alabama offense. After Georgia’s Peyton Woodring missed a potential tying field goal from 50 yards out that deflected off the right upright, Milroe got the Tide rolling again.

Malaki Starks was flagged for pass interference, Milroe converted on fourth-and-4 with a 22-yard pass to Bond, and Burton hauled in the TD pass in the back of the end zone to send Alabama to the locker room with a 17-7 lead.

It was only the fifth time that Georgia had trailed at the half since the start of its winning streak.

This time, the Bulldogs couldn’t come back.


Texas running back Keilan Robinson escapes a tackle attempt by Oklahoma State linebacker Xavier Benson in the first half of the Big 12 championship game on Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

(7) TEXAS 49, (19) OKLAHOMA STATE 19: Quinn Ewers and the Texas Longhorns are leaving the Big 12 with bookend championships and still hoping for a chance at the College Football Playoff. As for their fans, it was good riddance to the commissioner they felt was rooting against them.

Longhorns fans heartily booed and chanted “S-E-C!, S-E-C!” while Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark addressed the crowd before presenting the championship trophy to Ewers. Ewers set a career high by throwing for 452 yards with four touchdowns, one of those to 362-pound defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat, as seventh-ranked Texas won over No. 19 Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas.

It was the fourth Big 12 title for the Longhorns (12-1, No. 7 CFP), and their first since 2009. They also won the championship game in the league’s inaugural 1996 season and in 2005 when they were last national champs.

“I know it’s been a long time coming. Everybody’s been starving for this championship,” third-year Texas Coach Steve Sarkisian said. “To get it in our final game in the Big 12, I hope everybody enjoys it as much as we do.”

At one point during the postgame presentation, Sarkisian waved both of his arms trying to quiet the jeers toward Yormark, who before the season when addressing a crowd of Texas Tech supporters publicly rooted against the Longhorns, who are going with Oklahoma to the SEC next season.

“It’s all good, it’s all good,” Yormark said with a smile.


Keilan Robinson tiptoed the sideline on a 57-yard run for the first of his two touchdowns in the second half as the Longhorns, the only team to beat Alabama entering Saturday, stayed in playoff contention with its final Big 12 trophy. However, they need a lot of help to make the four-team CFP field that will be revealed Sunday, a year before it expands to 12 teams.

“Hopefully, when people kind of look at the totality of the body of work, it’s not just about the record, it’s about the quality of the team.” Sarkisian said. “It’s in their hands. … Like we told the players, control what we can control, now let’s play the best football we could. And I thought we did that today and hopefully put in their minds what would it look like if Texas was in a four-team playoff.”

Behind national rushing leader Ollie Gordon II, Oklahoma State (9-4, No. 18 CFP) had won seven of eight games to get to its second Big 12 title game in three years. But Texas scored on its first four possessions, going ahead 28-7 on true freshman CJ Baxter’s 10-yard run early in the second quarter.

Cowboys quarterback Alan Bowman, who previously played at Texas Tech and Michigan, was 22-of-38 passing for 250 yards with two of his three touchdowns going to Rashod Owens.

Gordon came in averaging 137.1 yards per game overall – and 163 in conference games. The sophomore finished with only 34 yards on 13 carries against Sweat and the Big 12’s top rushing defense, which allowed only 85 yards per game on the ground during the regular season.

Ewers completed 35 of 46 passes and his touchdowns went to four different receivers, the biggest one being the finalist for the Outland Trophy that goes to the nation’s top lineman, offense or defense. Texas had a season-high 662 total yards, while holding the Cowboys to 281.


(25) SMU 26, (17) TULANE 14: Kevin Jennings threw a touchdown pass and accounted for 266 yards from scrimmage in his first career start, Collin Rogers kicked four second-half field goals, and the Mustangs (11-2) beat the Green Wave (11-2) in the American Athletic Conference championship game in New Orleans.

MIAMI 23, (23) TOLEDO 14: Rashad Amos ran for two touchdowns, Graham Nicholson kicked three field goals and the Red Hawks (11-2) beat the Rockets (11-2) in the Mid-American Conference championship game in Detroit.


(3) WASHINGTON 34, (5) OREGON 31: Michael Penix Jr. passed for 319 yards and a touchdown, Dillon Johnson ran for 152 yards and two TDs and the Huskies (13-0) wrapped up a spot in the College Football Playoff, beating the Ducks (11-2) in the Pac-12 Championship in Las Vegas.

The game was likely the final Pac-12 Championship given 10 of the 12 teams will be playing in different conferences next season. Only Oregon State and Washington State will remain as they try to find a way to keep the tradition-rich conference together in some form.

Washington was the last Pac-12 team to make the CFP – in the 2016 season.

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