The Tide has receded.
Behind a solid defensive effort that included sealing the deal with a pick-six, the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 33-18 Monday night to claim the 2021-2022 college football national championship. It is Georgia’s first title since 1980.
Going into the game, the primary question was how would the aforementioned Georgia defense, which had throttled every opponent except Alabama against which it surrendered 41 points in the national championship semi-finals … er, SEC title game (let’s face it, folks, in Realville they’re the same), would adjust to at least slow down the Crimson Tide’s high-octane offense led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young. As it turned out, the Bulldogs adapted quite nicely, often yielding yardage but stiffening when it counted.
The first half was a grinder’s paradise, with a collective scoring output of five field goals as neither team crossed the goal line. Georgia thought it had scored a touchdown on the game’s opening drive when it was initially ruled on the field that Young had been sacked, fumbling the ball in the process, which was scooped up by a Bulldogs defender and run into the end zone. However, replay indicated, at least to the on-field officials, that Young was in the act of passing and changed the play to an incomplete pass. An Alabama drive in the second quarter came close to the end zone, but a well-timed Georgia sack reduced the damage to a field goal. After thirty minutes, it was Alabama nine, Georgia six.
The tide started turning against the Tide in the third quarter when the Bulldogs blocked another field goal attempt. Georgia seized upon this momentum builder with a James Cook 67-yard run, capping the drive with the game’s first touchdown on a Zamir White one-yard run. 13-9 Georgia.
The fourth quarter saw Georgia’s lead cut to one with yet another Alabama field goal. In the next series, Georgia fans could be forgiven for saying “here we go again” when a play not entirely dissimilar to the Alabama first-quarter fumble subsequently ruled not to be one was this time decreed to be a fumble, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett coughing up the pigskin. Young moved the Tide 16 yards downfield and into the end zone. A failed two-point conversion attempt made the score 18-13 Alabama.
Bennett atoned for his fumble on the next possession with a drive culminating with a 40-yard completion to Adonai Mitchell for the score. Georgia’s attempt at a two-point conversion went awry, the score now 19-18 Georgia. Alabama went three and out upon receiving the ball, followed by Georgia saying, “Well, you’re pretty good, old son, but sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done,” as it drove 62 yards in seven plays, capping the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Bennett to Brock Bowers. 26-18 Georgia.
With 3:33 left in the game, Alabama needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime. They got neither, as with less than a minute remaining, Kelee Ringo picked off a Young pass that was in-between two Crimson Tide receivers and ran it back 79 yards for the clinching score.
The win was Georgia head coach Kirby Smart’s first against his former boss Nick Saban after four losses. With the two teams already favored to meet again for the national championship in 2023, get ready because the South’s gonna do it again. More power to ’em.