The 2017 Alabama-Georgia national championship game may have been the greatest game in the history of college football.
But, the 2018 Alabama-Georgia SEC championship game may have brought us the greatest story in college football history. In an epic role reversal, Alabama backup quarterback Jalen Hurts came in to relieve the injured Tua Tagovailoa and led the Crimson Tide to a fourth quarter comeback. (RELATED: 2018 SEC Championship Game Preview: Will The Tide Turn)
— Jalen Hurts (@JalenHurts) December 2, 2018
The Bulldogs led 28-14 late in the third quarter, before Tua’s touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle cut the lead in half. Georgia continued to lead 28-21 until Tua’s knee finally gave out midway through the fourth quarter, and Jalen Hurts had to enter the game and save Alabama against the same team in the same stadium where he lost his job just 11 months ago. On his first pass of the game, Hurts completed a perfect pass in coverage to Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. on third down and 12 yards to go in order to extend the drive. It was one of five third-down completions for Hurts late in the fourth quarter.
That drive ended with a perfect pass from Hurts to Jerry Jeudy in the back of the end zone to tie the game.
What a story
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) December 2, 2018
Hurts and the Crimson Tide were able to start their next drive at midfield after a mind-boggling decision by Bulldogs’ head coach Kirby Smart to fake a punt. After another perfect third-down throw, Hurts scampered into the end zone and etched his place in college football history. He nearly brought his head coach to tears.
Despite leading the team to back-to-back national championship games as a freshman and sophomore, Hurts was benched in the second half of the national championship game a year ago. Tua took over to lead the Crimson Tide-comeback, and it was assumed that Hurts’ career at Alabama was over.
But, Hurts had other ideas. He stayed at Alabama, and continued to improve as a passer under the tutelage of quarterbacks coach Dan Enos. The throws Hurts was making at the end of Saturday’s games were not ones that he could have made just a few months ago. Saturday showed just how far the Crimson Tide quarterback had come in so little time.
I admit that it felt like someone was chopping onions around me while the end of this game was unfolding. Hurts delivered the type of stuff that would have seemed so mythical that Hollywood would have rejected it in a script.
Hurts delivered the stuff of legends. And on Saturday, he became one.