The Georgia Bulldogs are your new National Champions! As the two heavyweights of the SEC in No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-2) and the No.3 Georgia Bulldogs (14-1) faced off on Monday night in Indianapolis for one to come up victorious in being named the National Champion. Some top prospects were on display on both teams with Alabama having quarterback and Heisman Winner Bryce Young, wide receiver Jameson Williams, linebacker Christian Harris, and many others.
Meanwhile, Georgia has no slouch of top-notch talent as well in defensive tackle Jordan Davis, linebacker Nakobe Dean, cornerback Derion Kendrick, among many others. The game started with a crucial play when Davis sacked Young on the opening drive for the game which led to what seemed like a touchdown for Dean and the Bulldogs, but upon official review they overturned the call after they saw Young threw the ball and was an incomplete pass.
The Bulldogs pressured Young on early in the first, blitzing and making him make tough throws on their opening drive. Alabama would have to eventually end up settling for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead off Will Reichards kick due to the Bulldogs suffocating pressure defensively, one of the best, if not the best defensive team all season.
Meanwhile, Georgia opened up their offensive drive, led by the first ever former walk-on quarterback to play in a championship game in Stetson Bennett IV, who’s coming off a big game against Michigan on Dec.31 where he threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, started with a 14 yard loss due to a sack by Harris.
Defense dominated for the most part in the first quarter until a long rane 52 yard bomb from Bennett to George Pickens which helped gain the Bulldogs some momentum as the quarter was winding down. No team scored a touchdown in the first quarter.
Georgia would get near the goal line but fail to score a touchdown, settling for a field goal from Jake Podlesny to make it 3-3. Alabama would then come back on offense with a beautiful pass from Young to Williams, but then Williams was carried off the field in an injury scare to his knee. Alabama had a false start and couldn’t get into the endzone once again as Williams headed to the locker room to check on his knee as Reichards converted on a field goal to make it a 6-3 game.
The reigning National Defensive Player of the Year in Alabama’s outside linebacker Will Anderson who forced Georgia to punt the ball early in the second due to pressuring Bennett and getting a big tackle on third down. This would lead to a 61 yard gain on Alabama’s next offensive drive from Young to Cameron Letu, which got them inside Georgia’s ten yard line. But, Georgia’s defense showed resilience in not allowing the touchdown as inside linebacker Channing Tindall sacked Young for the loss and making them settle for the field goal once again to make it 9-3 Alabama,
Neither team could take command in the first half with Alabama leading 9-6 as Georgia had only 153 total yards in the first half, along with going three of eight (37.5%) on third down and having seven penalties which cost them 49 yards, with most of them being silly errors like false starts. On the other side, Alabama wasn’t much better, totaling just 216 yards in the first half and going three of nine on third down (33%), and two penalties themselves which cost them 10 yards. Both teams punted the ball three times due to their elite defense and lack of capitalizing on big plays.
The first touchdown came in the second half by Georgia running back Zamir White to give the Bulldogs a 13-9 lead after the converted field goal with under two minutes left in the third quarter. But the Crimson Tide came back early in the fourth quarter on a beautiful pass from Young to the freshman Agiye Hall who made a crucial 26 yard catch with their top receiver Williams out with a knee injury he suffered in the second quarter.
Alabama would fail to convert the touchdown on that drive and settle for a field goal once again, with Georgia leading 13-12. Young would later find Letu for a crucial touchdown to give them a 18-13 lead at a pivotal point in the game with 10:14 remaining in the fourth after a huge fumble call that went Alabama’s way and a Devonte Wyatt penalty that gave Alabama a new set of downs.
Georgia would comeback with a 40 yard touchdown reception by Adonai Mitchell from Bennett to regain the lead, 19-18! They weren’t done there though, as Bennett would find Brock Bowers for a touchdown with 3:33 left in the fourth and a 26-18 lead to make it difficult for Young and the Tide to make a comeback against that raging Bulldog defense.
The Bulldogs would then go on to score in the endzone once again to give them that 33-18 win over Alabama. Georgia’s defensive back Kelee Ringo sealed the game with a pick six on Young to help Georgia win their first national championship since 1980. The Bulldogs had a total of 211 yards in the second half and had fewer penalties (three) compared to seven in the first half while Alabama had just the same amount of yards Georgia had in the first half (153) and had four penalties in the second half that cost them 32 yards and had two interceptions.
After years of heartbreak and a 40 year drought the Bulldogs finally reclaim the title, but another storyline is Georgia head coach Kirby Smart defeats his mentor over the years in Alabama coach Nick Saban to get the last laugh after they lost to them 37 days earlier in the SEC Championship.