It's a reminder of what could have been, and it's something that is being addressed to implement change:
Alabama 24, Georgia 0.
In the past two meetings between these two Southeastern Conference football heavyweights, Kirby Smart's Bulldogs have built double-digit leads against Nick Saban's Crimson Tide only to have Alabama outscore them 24-0 in the fourth quarter of those games. To say that "finishing" has been a term used on occasion this week in Athens as No. 3 Georgia prepares for Saturday night's showdown against the No. 2 Crimson Tide inside Bryant-Denny Stadium would be a Jordan Davis-sized understatement.
"It definitely takes a lot of heart," said Davis, the mammoth 6-foot-6, 320-pound junior nose tackle for the Bulldogs. "They say that football is 10% physical and 90% mental. We definitely have to build our mental toughness this week. For me, I want to make sure I feel like I've finished the game.
"We need to be as perfect as we can."
Georgia was 15 minutes away from its first national championship since 1980 when it took a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter of the title game of the 2017 season inside Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Alabama, however, won that quarter 10-0 to send the contest into overtime, where the Tide prevailed 26-23 on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith.
Several months later at the 2018 SEC championship game, Georgia rendered Tagovailoa ineffective and took a 28-21 lead into the fourth quarter, but backup quarterback Jalen Hurts keyed a 14-0 closing run that catapulted the Tide to a 35-28 win.
"I think it's a confidence level, and it's an execution level," Smart said. "At the end of the day, most games come down to the fourth quarter when you have two talented football teams, and in both cases, we needed to finish better. A lot of that comes through maturity and execution — all of the little things you have to do right at the end of the game to give yourself a chance to win."
Right guard Ben Cleveland, defensive end Malik Herring and linebacker Monty Rice are among the few current Bulldogs who competed in the national championship loss to the Tide. Current center Trey Hill, Davis and fellow defensive lineman Julian Rochester, cornerback Eric Stokes and safety Richard LeCounte all started in the 2018 SEC title game.
Unfortunately for Georgia, the two matchups transpired in a very similar and painful manner.
"They've taught us resiliency and making sure we finish games and making sure we compete for four quarters, or five quarters even in some cases," Bulldogs junior left tackle Jamaree Salyer said. "We also need to start out fast and just play our brand of footnall."
Said Stokes: "We're not making this moment too high or too low. It's just another game. Their offense has always been explosive and powerful, so we've got to come out and do the same thing we've been doing week by week."
Mims picks Bulldogs
Amarius Mims, the highest-rated prospect in the Peach State for the 2021 recruiting cycle, committed Wednesday afternoon to Georgia.
The 6-7, 315-pound offensive tackle from Blakeley County High School in Cochran is the nation's No. 6 overall prospect and the No. 2 tackle in the 247Sports.com composite rankings. He is now the highest-rated Georgia commitment, topping five-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff from the Athens area.
Georgia now has 16 commitments and the No. 7 class nationally, one spot ahead of Tennessee.