Before this year, it had been over 40 years since the Georgia Bulldogs won the National Championship. If they wanted to win the title this year, they were going to need to go through the Alabama Crimson Tide. That would be no easy task considering Alabama had won six National Championships since 2009.
The Bulldogs were not only going through a title drought, but had also not beaten the Crimson Tide since 2007. Since Georgia’s last win, Alabama had won seven straight in their head to head rivalry. That included the Crimson Tide winning in a dramatic overtime affair in the 2018 National Championship Game, when Tua Tagovailoa found DeVonta Smith on the last play of the game to win 26-23. As well as winning that National Title, Alabama had also blown out Georgia earlier this season in the SEC Championship game by a score of 41-24.
Despite the losing streak against Alabama, the Bulldogs entered the game as slight favorites to win. From the beginning it was clear the game could come down to which defense played better. Through the first half of the game, there was not a touchdown scored by either offense, something that is uncommon in a college football game. Alabama had a slim 9-6 lead entering the half. The Bulldogs offensive line seemed to lift their level in the second half, which allowed them to be more effective running the football. This paid off in the final minutes of the third quarter as running back Zamir White scored a one yard touchdown run for the Bulldogs to put them up 13-9. Alabama responded with another field goal. Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett had played a conservative game through three quarters and it appeared he was feeling the pressure of the moment. Bennett made his first and only vital mistake early in the fourth quarter when he fumbled and lost the football deep in Georgia territory. The turnover quickly led to Alabama’s first touchdown of the game to put them up 18-13 with just over ten minutes remaining in the game. At that moment, it appeared likely that Alabama would win a seventh National Title under head coach Nick Saban.
Bennett shook off the mistake and appeared to loosen up as he led two consecutive touchdown drives for the Bulldogs. During those drives, Bennett fired a beautiful 40 yard touchdown pass to receiver Adonai Mitchell. On the following drive, Bennett found Brock Bowers on a screen for a 15 yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 26-18 with about three minutes left.
Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young attempted to lead the Crimson Tide to tie the game but threw his second interception, which was returned for a touchdown by Georgia. The pick six essentially sealed the win for head coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs. Alabama got the ball back but the Georgia defense stepped up again. Fittingly, the last play of the game ended with another sack on Young, with the final score being 33-18 in favor of the Bulldogs.
For Alabama, it was a disappointing way to end the season, as anything less than a National Title usually is for them. Luckily for the Crimson Tide, Young is only a Sophomore and will likely only improve before next Fall. As for Georgia, Bennett was named offensive MVP of the game finishing 17 of 26 passing for 224 yards and two touchdowns. It was the perfect way to end his college career as he helped the Bulldogs win the National Title for the first time since 1980.
Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Stetson Bennett kissing the trophy after winning the National Championship Game.