ATLANTA — A dramatic, 32-28 victory over Georgia in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game all but certainly put Alabama in the BCS national championship game and likely relegated the Bulldogs to a lesser postseason destination.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said he still feels Georgia deserves to go to a BCS bowl.
“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” he said. “When you have six teams in the (BCS) top 10, my sister did the math on that. That’s 60 percent. She also said, ‘Why do only 20 percent get to go to the BCS?’ ”
Florida (11-1) likely will earn an automatic at-large BCS berth. The Gators, who lost 17-9 to Georgia, came into the day No. 4 in the BCS standings and were likely to move to No. 3 behind Notre Dame and Alabama.
Only two teams per conference can earn BCS berths unless a conference has two teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 and a third team is the conference champion.
Georgia (11-2) could wind up in the Capital One or Cotton but also could return to the Georgia Dome on Dec. 31 for the Chick-fil A or make a second straight trip to the Outback Bowl.
“I watch teams playing that are 7-5 that are talking about how they might go to a BCS game because they won their championship,” Saban said. “Something’s not right here.”
Wisconsin was 7-5 going into Saturday’s Big Ten Championship game; Georgia Tech was 6-6 entering the ACC title game.
Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked whether his team should get a BCS nod over Florida.
“It’s up to whoever is deciding,” he said. “I’m not in charge of that. But do I think we are worthy of a BCS bowl? Yes, I do.”
SEC commissioner Mike Slive declined to give an opinion on Arkansas’ recent pursuit of LSU coach Les Miles.
Arkansas reportedly offered Miles a five-year, $27.5 million deal to become its coach. LSU countered with a two-year extension through 2019 and an unannounced raise.
“The conference legally has no position,” said Slive, who is an attorney. “You can’t get involved with anybody’s ability to earn a livelihood. We conform with the law.”
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy of Dutchtown earned MVP honors Saturday, but he couldn’t erase Justin Vincent’s name from the record book.
Lacy had 20 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns but came up short of Vincent’s championship game rushing record. Vincent rushed for 201 yards in LSU’s 34-13 victory over Georgia in 2003.
Lacy looked well on his way, rushing 18 times for 177 yards through three quarters. But he had just two carries for 4 yards in the fourth quarter as T.J. Yeldon took over.
Yeldon finished with 25 carries for 153 yards and a score; he rushed nine times for 48 yards in the final 15 minutes.
Alabama netted 350 rushing yards, obliterating the record of 300 that the Crimson Tide set against Florida in 1999. It’s the first time a team has had two 100-yard rushers in the championship game.
This was only the fifth championship game decided by seven points or fewer. The most recent had been 2007, when LSU beat Tennessee 21-14.
The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie, the first scoreless first quarter in 21 SEC Championship Games. Florida led Arkansas 3-0 in 2006 in the previous lowest-scoring first quarter.
LSU Hall of Famer Kevin Mawae was recognized on the field before kickoff along with football legends from the other 13 SEC schools.
Mawae, a three-time All-SEC offensive lineman who played 16 seasons in the NFL, spoke at Friday night’s SEC Legends banquet at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta on behalf of his fellow honorees.
Among those also honored Friday were CBS Sports legend Pat Summerall (Arkansas); 1957 Heisman Trophy winner and Marion native John David Crow (Texas A&M); former New Orleans Saints fullback James Owens (Auburn); former Ole Miss quarterback Glynn Griffing; and ex-Georgia quarterback David Greene, who played against LSU in 2003.
This was the first SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia but the second between Saban and Richt. Saban was LSU’s coach when the Tigers beat Georgia in 2003. … Georgia tied LSU with its fifth appearance. The Bulldogs are now 2-3, while the Tigers are 4-1.
“Best of luck to both SEC teams. Back to Call of Duty.”
— Twitter message from LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery during the game
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