it was an elite college football programs game that lived up to the hype for most of the game. Alabama’s No.2 and Georgia’s No.3 were tight for three quarters before the Crimson Tide took control and walked away with a 41-24 victory.
The game changed quickly with the Bulldogs leading the way. Jaylen Waddle broke free on a 90-yard touchdown reception for the go-ahead score. Two interceptions by Georgian quarterback Stetson Bennett on the next two possessions led to two more touchdowns and the game was effectively over with 10 minutes left.
Three observations of Alabama’s victory that could put Clemson atop the Amway Coaches poll this week:
Alabama offensive finds its rhythm
Something must have given when the No. 1 offense met the No. 1 defense in yards allowed. Alabama averaged 51 points per game. Georgia was allowing just 236.7 yards.
The Bulldogs hit the first shot with a Mac Jones interception on the first scrimmage play. From there, however, Alabama moved the ball consistently and found most of their success in the air.
Jones finished 24 of 32 for 417 yards and four touchdowns with an interception. Two long passes helped those numbers as John Metchie III and Waddle got behind the defense for long scores.
Georgia has made life difficult. His pass rush hit Jones several times and he looked stoned in the third quarter. It mostly slowed down running back Najee Harris until the end of the game.
But Jones was strong and patient. It wasn’t as pretty as the Tide looks but it was pretty enough to score a big win.
ANALYSIS: Can anyone stop Alabama’s offensive juggernaut?
WINNERS AND LOSERS: Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida State Make the List
ACC UPSET: Florida State shocks 6th North Carolina
WEEK 7: Top 10 performances
Georgia has its offensive moments
Scoring Georgia’s attack under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken depends on how she performs against championship contenders. Yes, the Bulldogs can look good against the Tennessee or the Auburn, but these are games where they can be methodical and exhaust their opponents. Against Alabama, they need to be able to match touchdowns with touchdowns.
It worked during the first half as Bennett looked ready, and a good play call knocked Crimson Tide off balance. Coming into the locker room with a 24-20 lead, everything seemed to go according to plan.
Bennett, however, finally started showing signs of participating in his first major college football game. A few forced throws in the third quarter changed the dynamics. The first came deep into Alabama territory as the Bulldogs threatened to take the lead. The second was on an ill-advised pass through his body which led to the knockout punch by Alabama.
It’s an honor for Bennett, who finished 18 of 40 for 269 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, that Georgia played so well in the first half. He couldn’t be better than the third string before Jamie Newman retired and JT Daniels was medically cleared before the season. With more experience, some of the major mistakes can be fixed.
Just the first chapter of the story
The loss hurts for the Bulldogs, who haven’t beaten Alabama since 2007 – the year of Nick Saban’s first season at Tuscaloosa – but they can take comfort in knowing there will be another opportunity in the game. SEC championship awards in December if they overtake Florida. next month.
They can take comfort in their performance as well, although it was the third time in four seasons they led in the second half and still fell to Crimson Tide. The second chance would come on neutral ground in Atlanta. A win there would certainly send a Georgia to a college football playoff loss.
There could also be a third chapter between the teams in this scenario if Alabama were to end with a loss and take to the pitch as a team in general. Clemson, Ohio State and others may have something to say about it, but it’s been clear since Saturday night that these two teams are talented enough to win a national championship.
Follow USA TODAY Sports University reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ErickSmith