Sometimes the football truisms are just right. It’s a game of inches. The team that wins the line of scrimmage wins the game. Same for the turnover battle. Defense wins championships. The fifth-year walk-on QB plays the game of his life and beats the young Heisman phenom. The perineal loser topples the historic victor. For the Georgia Bulldogs, it took every bit of these commonly uttered phrases to come true in their historic defeat of the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the College Football Championship.
The near-goat turned hero for the Bulldogs was their underdog quarterback Stetson Bennett. For most of the game, Bennett was tossed around by the Alabama defense, led by pass-rusher extraordinaire Will Anderson III. Bennett was able to deliver big throws down the field but struggled to get the ball into the end zone. Both teams were able to execute in the red zone and the score settled at the very nice 6-9 advantage for Alabama for most of the contest.
Still looking for that first TD in the CFP Championship Game pic.twitter.com/82Gi0wH2Ah
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) January 11, 2022
Then, disaster seemed to strike for Georgia. Bennett attempted to throw the ball away to avoid a sack, but the call on the field was ruled a fumble by the Georgia QB, and recovered by Alabama’s Brian Branch. Branch appeared to be stepping out of bounds during the recovery, but he was able to just squeak his foot in. The call was confirmed and Alabama took over. This led to Young’s only TD of the game, and gave Alabama a 18-13 lead. It seemed like the football gods had smiled on the Rolling Tide once again.
— ESPN (@espn) January 11, 2022
Bennett, whose lifelong dream was to quarterback the Bulldogs, showed the tenacity and never-quit attitude that allowed him to secure the starting job over higher ranked teammates. Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken trusted his senior QB, allowing him to throw the ball, and throw Stetson did. On a absolute dime of a throw to end zone, Adonai Mitchell made the play of the game with a touchdown catch that will live in the annals of college football for eternity.
Unreal play pic.twitter.com/R2mk1rX9Kv
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) January 11, 2022
While Bennett will be remembered as the Tide conqueror, the Bulldogs employed a tried and true method of championship football that was the main reason for their win. Run the ball and play good defense. It may be simple, but the combination has proven time and again to be true. Alabama has used it on many occasions to win their titles, but were unable to do so against Georgia’s vaunted defense and dynamic duo of backs.
Led by an extremely impressive front seven, the Georgia defense was able to stop Young and the Bama offense with better success than anyone all season. The tenacious Bulldogs sacked the Heisman four times, and had an impressive nine tackles for loss during the contest. They were also able to intercept Young twice, the second of which was returned for a touchdown and sealed the game for Georgia.
As called on Georgia radio: pic.twitter.com/V87mHUL6Zh
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 11, 2022
A huge detractor to Alabama’s success on offense was the loss of stand-out wide receiver Jameson Williams. The speedy wide-out was a key to Young and the Tide’s aerial attack, which for the rest of the season was historically good. Williams was injured while making an impressive reaching catch down the field as his knee buckled in a gruesome fashion as he attempted to race down the field. Alabama came into the championship contest without perhaps their best overall receiver John Metchie III, who was injured in the previous SEC Championship between Alabama and Georgia.
The area that the Bulldogs was the most dominant was the run game. The dangerous combination of Zamir “Zeus” White and James Cook were able to gash a weaker than normal Alabama defense for 140 yards. The man they call Zeus was able to seal the game late with a series of big runs as his offensive line was able to move the Alabama defensemen with surprising ease.
History suggested that Alabama would win this game, and Georgia would lose. Alabama has dominated college football for more than a decade, and while Georgia has been a top-tier program, they had not won a championship since 1980. More than that, Nick Saban always beats his former assistant coaches in the big games. Sports are not always consistent, but that felt like an inevitability. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart had tasted defeat from Saban’s hand in the biggest games. His undefeated team was embarrassed by Alabama just weeks ago. However much those defeats stung, Smart was good enough to vanquish his mentor in a victory that must have been as sweet as a Georgia peach.