The Bulldogs saw their destiny, and they watched it slip away amid a disastrous barrage of penalties, turnovers and mistakes, falling to No. 8 Alabama 41-30.
Georgia's defense had no answer for John Parker Wilson in the first half. The Alabama quarterback completed his first seven passes, helping the Crimson Tide score on their first five drives. Wilson completed 13-of-16 for 205 yards in the game.
The Bulldogs nearly put a stop to the Alabama run before it started.
The Tide drove to the Georgia 23 then coughed up the football on a third-down screen pass to Glen Coffee. The play was overturned, however, when Georgia was whistled for the first of its 10 penalties.
The roughing-the-passer flag on Akeem Dent was clearly the most costly.
Alabama went on to score on the drive, and the floodgates opened from there.
Twenty-five yards in Georgia penalties set up a field goal on the Tide's second drive, then a botched punt by Brian Mimbs that sailed just 18 yards gave Alabama strong field position on its third drive, which ended in a touchdown.
The Bulldogs finally looked like they might have a drive going, but Matthew Stafford's third-down pass sailed in and out of A.J. Green's hands, turning a potential first down into an interception by the Tide's Dont'a Hightower. Alabama closed the deal with another touchdown to open a 24-0 lead. Wilson then closed out the half - in which he completed 10-of-11 passes - with a touchdown throw to freshman Julio Jones. The 31-point deficit was the largest halftime hole Georgia faced at Sanford Stadium in nine years.
The Bulldogs mounted a ferocious comeback in the third quarter, finally finding a solution to Alabama's offensive attack while finding a spark for their offense.
After cracking the scoreboard with a 43-yard field goal by Blair Walsh, Georgia finally found the end zone on its third drive of the half. Stafford connected with Green for a 26-yard gain, then
Knowhon Moreno, who finished with just 34 yards on the ground, punched it in from the 2.
Prince Miller, who had been beaten on several of Wilson's first-half completions, atoned for his mistakes by returning a punt 92 yards for a touchdown to start the fourth quarter and breath new life into the crowd that had been far too quiet since Alabama's first score.
The comeback bid came too late, however, as the Tide were able to drive for a field goal to go up by three scores, and Georgia's last gasp came up short when yet another penalty - this time for holding - negated a crucial fourth-down conversion inside Alabama territory.
Stafford finished off the game with a touchdown pass to Green to make the final score look respectable, but it the white-clad Alabama fans were the ones cheering on their team as time expired.