It wasn't supposed to be this easy. It couldn't be. Not after Georgia allowed a grand total of 83 points during the regular season. And certainly not after Alabama struggled to muster up any offense against Auburn in the Iron Bowl just a week ago.
This was the Bulldogs' moment, so we thought. After watching the Crimson Tide dominate the SEC over the past decade, this felt like a potential changing of the guard.
Then quarterback Bryce Young came out and obliterated the very notion.
With everything to gain, he torched a defense that many, including the individual on the other end of this keyboard, was labeling as one of the best ever. In doing so, he wrapped up the Heisman and secured a spot in the College Football Playoff for Alabama.
Oh, and with a 41-24 win over Georgia, the No. 1 football team in America, Nick Saban's group once again cemented itself as college football's most menacing juggernaut until further notice.
But let's start with Young, because there is no other place to begin. The sophomore QB didn't just deliver his best game of the year; given the competition and the stakes, one could make an argument it's one of the best games a quarterback has played in recent memory.
It didn't take long to know what kind of night it would be. Young started early, and his 286 passing yards in the first half against the Bulldogs was an SEC Championship Game record. (You might as well get used to reading that.)
For some added perspective, Georgia allowed more than 286 yards passing in only one full game this year leading into Saturday.
While Alabama spent much of the second half milking clock, Young still finished with 461 yards of offense. This was also an SEC Championship Game record. He scored four touchdowns, which is remarkable when you consider how irregular the moments were for Georgia during the season.
His deep throws were on point. His timing was perfect. And his legs, which he has used brilliantly all year, were once again a factor.
Young's ability to escape Georgia's pressure early on allowed for his speedy wide receivers to get open. And although he normally likes to extend plays rather than run down field, Young's 40 rushing yards were vital.
And his 421 passing yards? You guessed it. This was also an SEC Championship Game record.
Even when wideout John Metchie III, one of his favorite targets, left the game in the second quarter with an injury, Young did enough in the final 30 minutes to move the offense.
Credit should also be given to the Alabama offensive line, which looked like a different unit this weekend after struggling mightily against the Tigers. It kept Young clean, which made the output possible.
What happens next is pretty clear. For Young, he will win the Heisman.
In fact, given the magnitude of this performance, the voting likely won't be close. Young heads into this week having scored 46 touchdowns and thrown only four interceptions.
His stats were already Heisman-worthy. This performance just pushed an already compelling resume over the top.
He's had a brilliant year that, at times, felt like it wasn't getting the appreciation it deserves. Given the success Alabama had last season with Mac Jones at quarterback and DeVonta Smith at wide receiver, perhaps we are just numb to it.
At this point, however, none of that matters. Young did everything necessary and more, and he'll take center stage with the award in hand come next weekend.
Even bigger for Alabama, it made a compelling case to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee it should be the No. 1 seed when the four-team field is officially announced Sunday.
Heading into Saturday, this felt in doubt. For as much as Alabama is celebrated, Georgia was thought to be the better team and the likely victor in the latest installment. That was not be.
"What these guys wanted to gain was more respect," Saban told reporters after the win. "Not just the fact they were underdogs, but you guys gave us a lot of really positive rat poison. The rat poison you usually give us is fatal. This rat poison you gave us this week was yummy."
Forget about just making the final four. That conversation is over. The Crimson Tide likely needed a win to crack the playoff, and it got that and then some. While it will be official on Sunday, this, like the Heisman, seems like all but a formality now.
Winning the SEC and making the playoff has almost become routine at Alabama. It is no longer the hope, it is the expectation.
But that cannot and should not take anything away from what Young just did. This is a performance, no matter what happens next, that should carry onward.
Amid an endless sea of Alabama accolades and individual brilliance, this still feels like an outlier.
To seamlessly deconstruct a defense that has largely been a brick wall—a defense that was playing its way into conversations about its all-time historical standing—is something that transcends Alabama's natural excellence.
The stakes couldn't have been higher. And in 60 pristine minutes of football, Young put the Crimson Tide in a position to conquer the sport again while positioning himself to win one of the most coveted awards in all of sports.
The work, of course, is not complete. Alabama and Young will not be satisfied with individual awards and access to a four-team playoff it regularly dominates. In many ways, they're just getting started.
But Young's Saturday is one we will remember. He had everything to gain and everything to lose, and he left no doubt along the way. Alabama might be used to this kind of game no matter how many records fell, although it never gets old.