ATLANTA (RNN) – With all of the talk regarding pass rushing, matchups, offensive balance and impactful special teams plays, the SEC championship game came down to one critical fact: Georgia struggles to defend the run.
The Bulldogs entered the game 11th in the SEC in rushing defense and gave up their most yards all season against Alabama's punishing duo of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.
Lacy, who was named the game's MVP, rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns and gained more than 9 yards per carry. Yeldon picked up 154 yards and a touchdown. In all, the Crimson Tide (12-1) gained 350 yards on the ground.
It was the first time in SEC championship game history one team had two players gain more than 100 yards, and they had done it by the end of the third quarter.
"We had that ‘would not be denied' attitude," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "This conference will test your mettle, and we beat a really good team. We really couldn't handle their pass rush, and I give our offensive line a lot of credit for getting a hat on a hat so we could run the football."
In Georgia's only other loss of the season, a 35-7 beating at the hands of South Carolina, the Bulldogs (11-2) gave up 230 yards on the ground.
Lacy has been the workhorse for the Tide all season, picking up tough yards and making defenders miss on bruising runs.
"The offensive line got the defensive line off the ball and created tremendous holes, and we were able to hit them for big gains," Lacy said. "We were in position to make big plays to get the momentum on our side."
The Bulldogs were punished on defense and in the second half and were worn down so much, could do nothing to slow the ground attack. Georgia coach Mark Richt said fatigue didn't play as big a factor as the Tide's offensive line.
"Whether we were tired, they were getting blocks," Richt said. "They had two drives where they maybe threw the ball only once and scored a TD. They just lined up and knocked us off the ball. That was impressive."
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