It’s not especially surprising that Alabama won the SEC Championship Game on Saturday afternoon, taking down fourth-ranked Georgia in a 35-28 thriller and almost certainly securing their status as the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. But considering who was under center when the Crimson Tide came from behind with two fourth quarter touchdowns to win the game, well, this was nothing short of remarkable.
Tua Tagovailoa went down in the first quarter with an ankle injury. He played through it, but just looked off. Then, in the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa rolled his other ankle, going down in serious pain and needing help off the field.
This led to Alabama turning to Jalen Hurts, who led the team during the 2017 campaign and was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. However, after Hurts was pulled for Tagovailoa in the national title game last year, the Hawaiian gunslinger never looked back, winning the starting job this offseason and putting forth a Heisman Trophy-worthy campaign as the Tide went undefeated.
But college football has a weird sense of humor, and sometimes, history repeats itself in odds ways. This is why, with Georgia up 28-21, Hurts came in and won the damn thing.
Hurts was magnificent in relief of Tagovailoa, going 7-for-9 with 82 yards and a touchdown pass through the air. He did damage on the ground, too, running the ball five times for 28 yards and the game-winning score.
Hurts was clutch, completing all four of the third-down passes he threw, most notably on his first drive of the game. After rolling out of the pocket, Hurts threw a perfect pass to Jerry Jeudy to tie things up.
Georgia got the ball back, and on 4th-and-11 at midfield, Kirby Smart got a little too brave. The Bulldogs put backup quarterback Justin Fields in the game to run a fake punt, but Alabama’s defense, noticing a quarterback was on the field with the punt team, blew it up.
Alabama got the ball back and marched down field, getting the ball to the 15-yard line. Hurts looked like he was going to drop back to pass, but instead, a picture-perfect QB draw led to him scampering into the end zone to put the Tide up by a score.
It was quite the moment for someone who had a rough year, as Hurts went from a title-winning quarterback to a backup. But he stuck around, did his job, and when his number was called in the biggest game of the year, he did the damn thing. Plus, as it turns out, Hurts leading Alabama back from 14 points down was an SEC title game record.
Oh, and after his game-winning score, no one was happier for him than Tagovailoa.
Some stories get written and seem too good to be true, but that wasn’t the case for Hurts and the Crimson Tide on Saturday. College football is the best.