ATLANTA — Alabama got a hand on the ball, which wobbled into the arms of a Georgia receiver who wasn’t supposed to catch it.
Before the Bulldogs could get off another play, the clock ran out.
The Crimson Tide are heading back to the national championship game.
By a mere 5 yards.
AJ McCarron threw a 45-yard TD pass to Amari Cooper with 3:15 remaining and No. 2 Alabama barely held on, beating No. 3 Georgia, 32-28, in a Southeastern Conference title game for the ages on Saturday.
‘‘I’m ready to have a heart attack here,’’ Tide coach Nick Saban said.
As confetti fell from the Georgia Dome, the Bulldogs collapsed on the field, stunned they had come so close to knocking off the team that has won two of the last three national titles.
‘‘We just ran out of time,’’ Georgia coach Mark Richt moaned.
Alabama (12-1) will get a chance to make it three out of four when they face top-ranked Notre Dame for the BCS crown on Jan. 7 in Miami.
This time, Alabama will head to the big game with a championship already in its pocket — unlike last year’s squad, which didn’t even make it to Atlanta, but got a do-over against SEC champion LSU in the national title game.