5 For Friday: The Best Conference Championship Games



SEC heavyweights exchanged blows like the pugilists in an unrealistic boxing film, and Alabama was saved by the bell in the greatest conference championship game ever played.

The 2012 Alabama-Georgia title bout isn’t just one of the best conference championships ever played; it ranks among the sport’s all-time greatest encounters, period.

After a scoreless first-quarter stalemate, the floodgates opened for a 32-28 final that featured much more offense than was common of the SEC just three years ago. The two teams exchanged the lead five times, with Alabama taking its final advantage after fighting back from down 21-10.

A.J. McCarron’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper (above) will forever live in Crimson Tide lore, but perhaps less universally appreciated but equally important was T.J. Yeldon’s successful two-point conversion in the third quarter.

Take away Yeldon’s conversion, and Alabama leads by two for Georgia’s final drive. The Bulldogs aren’t forced to go for the end zone then, and can instead quick a field goal to win the SEC and presumably rout Notre Dame in the BCS Championship a month later.

How might the landscape be different now if Mark Richt had a national championship? Few moments in football history underscore the significance of every single yard.