College football and soccer analyst
ENGLEWOOD, Calif. – The results that followed sounded like tournaments more often than not.
Confetti flew everywhere as fans chanted “We are the champions” and the locker room filled with celebratory cigar smoke and rapping. Every Georgia player knows Chief Keef’s “Vanito” and Kodak Black’s “La Fluken.”
But what was different about Georgia’s lopsided win over TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship at SoFi Stadium Monday night was the fact that that win put the Bulldogs in extremely rare company. They are now the seventh program to repeat as outright national champions since the AP Poll began in 1936.
Is Georgia the next dynasty in college football?
Of course, the last team to do so was Alabama in 2011 and 2012, and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator at the time.
So the question must now be asked: Is Georgia the new Alabama?
“We don’t want to compare ourselves to anyone else,” said cornerback Kelly Ringo. “We started our own business here, and we want to continue building on that.”
“Nah, we’re Georgia,” added rightful addressee Warren McClendon. “We don’t want to be like Bama. We are Georgia.”
that’s fair. But when Smart was hired by his alma mater in December 2015, he began building Georgia in his image, an identity he developed and refined while working for Saban 11 years at LSU, with the Miami Dolphins, and then at Alabama, where he helped the program win four national championships. as assistant secretary.
Over the past seven years, Smart has transformed the Bulldogs into a physically imposing and easygoing team on defense, with an unrelenting, must-win attitude. Before kick-off, he said on the telecast: “We’re going to chase tonight.” It looked like the kind of Alabama team that sought to get its opponents to fold before the game even started.
While Georgia wants to differentiate itself from its SEC rival, it’s essentially the next iteration of the Crimson Tide as the new measuring stick in conference and sports. The torch has been passed.
Georgia showed no mercy for TCU on Monday night in many ways. Smart said after the game that he has instructed his scout team defense to become the Horned Frogs defense as they prepare to face them this week.
“We said we’d do it better than they do,” Smart said. “You’re going to watch the tape, sit here, and learn how to do it. We had guys to be their guys and we’d do their defense just right. Up until the last day we walked in, they were giving an incredible look. That positioned our offense for success.”
It helped Heisman finalist Stetson Bennett make his way from the start, running for 21 yards on the opening drive and finishing with a glowing baseline completing 18 of 25 passes for 304 yards with four touchdowns, and no sacks or interceptions. .
Bennett, whose story has been fondly told in Hollywood over the past two seasons, led the offense to accumulate 589 total yards while averaging 8.2 yards per play. The Bulldogs scored 65 points in 72 plays and set up the half early with no response, putting up 254 yards to 36 Frogs.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s defense held TCU to nine first downs (UGA’s offense was 32) and 188 total yards. Defensive back Javon Pollard had a fumble recovery and consecutive interceptions in the first half that were absolutely deflated.
Georgia dominates TCU in the title game
Georgia led 38-7 at halftime, breaking the previous CFP record of 35 first-half points set by Alabama against Ohio State in the 2021 semifinals. Georgia then finished with 65 points, breaking another CFP record for highest total points, which Also kept by Alabama (52 against Ohio State in 2020).
By the end of the night, TCU was ready for the game to come to an end. Most of the purple-clad fans missed the fourth quarter entirely, fleeing SoFi Stadium. That means they thankfully avoided watching Jalon Walker, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound freshman, sack Max Duggan for a 10-yard loss. And they didn’t see the play that followed, which was when the Georgians on fourth-string running back Branson Robinson scored the game’s final touchdown.
Meanwhile, Georgia fans seated in plush suites at field level were clinging to wine glasses and saying cheers with seven technical minutes left to play.
“It’s hard to put it into words,” said McClendon of winning his second title. “I never thought we’d be in this position. You know, during the recruiting, Coach Smart told me we were going to win championships and I thought he was offering the same old idea of recruiting as everyone else.
“But he stuck to his word.”
Over the past 20 years, it has been widely felt that, until Saban retired, no other program would be able to reach this level of sustained excellence.
But Smart has learned from the best, and is actually way ahead of what his mentor once was. Smart won his first national championship at the age of 46, and became the first Saban schoolboy to defeat his boss himself when Georgia knocked out Alabama one year earlier. When Saban was the same age, he was coming off a 6-6 season at Michigan State. Now, 47, Smart has just won his second straight title; Saban did not win his second until he was 57 years old. And Smart is making success during an unprecedented era of NIL and Gateway Transfer. He still has a ways to go for Saban’s seven titles, but he’s young and should be around college football for a long time.
One of the most amazing details about this Georgia moniker is the fact that 15 players from last year’s team were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Bulldogs can still go undefeated and win it again after those holes are filled.
“I’ve had four national championships at Alabama, I don’t think we’ve only had one undefeated, and that championship was really special,” Smart said. “Sometimes it takes a loss to motivate the force, put your team in a position to win. It happened last year. And it didn’t take that.” [this year]. I always say guys, do you have to lose to learn? why? And this team is special because they had no defect.
“There are some parts of me that think, if last year’s team played against this year’s team, then last year’s team probably had more talent. But this year’s team was different. They just had that eye of the tiger; they weren’t going to lose.” .
Gone are the days of fans holding up “We Want Bama” signs and making preseason predictions assuming Alabama would win it all. The smart thing is to build this thing to last.
And even if Georgia doesn’t want to compare itself to Alabama, how does it feel about the word dynasty?
“One start 100%,” Ringo said. “You can definitely say it’s a one-start.”
Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball, and soccer for FOX Sports. She has previously written for Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of Strong Like a Woman, which will be published in the spring of 2022 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.
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