Georgia strikes repeat and defends national title with final rout of TCU's CFP

Georgia strikes repeat and defends national title with final rout of TCU’s CFP


INGLEWOOD, Calif. — A rainy day around Los Angeles seemed like the perfect time to head inside for an art exhibit, and 72,628 people ended up doing so on Monday — whether they were thrilled or discouraged. They have seen the murderous art of American football calibrated to one of its greatest levels in the 153 years since a group of thugs launched it on a dilapidated New Jersey field.

They saw Georgia, America’s dynasty of the moment, take a meritorious group of TCU horned frogs, beat them 65-7 inside SoFi Stadium, and turn them into something that looked a lot like prey. They saw Georgia win the first repeat national championship of the college football playoff era (and the first overall in 10 years), become the fourth team to go 15-0, and go 29-1 over two seasons between which the NFL spent late April raided its roster of 15 players, including five defensemen in the first round of the draft.

They saw the greatness of collaboration even if they didn’t see competitive drama.

“I hope [Georgia fans] get the message I’m about to say,” said Kirby Smart, Georgia’s seventh-year coach, former Georgia player and Georgia MVP. “They can’t take it for granted. You cannot take opportunities like this for granted. And they showed up in force. And they better never get tired of it because we need them.

Two thousand miles from Athens, Georgia, they saw things they might never tire of. They saw a tough group of Bulldogs sprinkle the field with the elegant plays and inelegant saves needed to elevate their college football to some of the finest forms ever seen. Nine days after Ohio State’s 42-41 escape in a Peach Bowl national semifinal, they saw a beautiful urgency that prompted TCU coach Sonny Dykes to spot “a lot of pride in their performance in the way they played”.

They saw something – really something – that reminded others who decorated their repeated titles with antics, like Nebraska in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl (62-24) or Alabama in the title game of the 2013 Bowl Championship Series (42-14), and they saw an imposing reinforcement of the reality that the best American football comes from the Southeast, the region of eight consecutive national championships from four different universities.

As it happened: blow-by-blow Bulldogs rout

From the start on Monday night, Georgia players raced across the open grasslands of their own creation and reflecting their own array of threats, from 25-year-old quarterback Stetson Bennett IV streaming through the gaping space for a run of 21-yard touchdown that opened the scoring, to Ladd McConkey catching a 37-yard touchdown pass from Bennett which McConkey ran over so careless he looked a bit lonely, to tight end Brock Bowers making precise catches of precise throws to amass seven catches for 152 yards and a masterful touchdown in the third quarter.

If you needed Georgia to demonstrate they could rush the field, they could do it, with drives like four plays for 70 yards, five for 57, or four for 55. If you needed them to show that she could effectively advance he could, with 11 plays for 92 yards or 11 plays for 66 yards. If you wanted schemes that left people open, they had them, and if you wanted precision passes like Bennett’s 22-yard touchdown pass to a well-guarded Adonai Mitchell that went 38-7 at halftime , they had them.

“[They] kind of just executed on our misalignments and kept scoring on those,” TCU linebacker Dee Winters said. “We kept fighting, overthinking, trying to run too fast for the ball and things of that nature.”

To defend this defence, people often experience personality disturbances in the presence of greatness. Georgia hogged 589 yards with a nice balance of 254 (rushing) and 335 (air), and Bennett floated in quarterback clouds throughout the game before landing a delirious 226 .9, which Smart called “astonishing” and “probably his best play of his career,” and Bennett passed 18-for-25 for 304 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 39 and two more scores, and earned his second straight offensive MVP in national title games.

“And,” Smart said, “when you have a quarterback who can do the protections and check things out and know what the defense is doing, and still be fighting with their feet, you’ve got a tall quarterback. level.”

Stetson Bennett has always had star potential. Ask the Georgia reconnaissance team.

He’s a top Georgia quarterback who walked to Georgia in 2017, transferred from Georgia to a junior college in Mississippi in 2018, then transferred to Georgia in 2019 even as his own coaches joined in to do so. to forget. Then all these years later, he’s a two-title quarterback who spent his last college term on the sidelines with calm nerve endings after Smart called timeout to give Bennett an encore that Bennett said: “The caucus, I said to all the guys, ‘What are we doing? Why don’t we have a play?'” Then he understood the reason and felt moved “in caucus, no matter how simple, just one last caucus with the guys, you know?”

Yet in all that time, something just as artistic happened elsewhere in the game’s stats, even if it was the kind of art that causes bruises. A TCU team (13-2) that only once gained less than 377 yards in a game its entire dizzying season suddenly gained 188. A darling of an unlikely finalist who rushed for 263 yards in a dreamy Fiesta Bowl semifinal against Michigan suddenly rushed for 36. Where 32 pretty first downs went to Georgia, nine gnarly went to TCU. TCU’s best player, wide receiver Quentin Johnston, caught a pass for three yards. A prodigious first sacking saw star TCU quarterback Max Duggan with a tough committee of defenders around him: Jalen Carter, Nazir Stackhouse and Smael Mondon.

“I mean, they were good up front,” Duggan said. “They had good blitzes, good pressure that passed. I held onto the ball a little too long, I couldn’t read, I was causing trouble on the offensive line myself. It was a bit on me. But . . .”

But: “They had good plans.”

Brewer: TCU was a deserving finalist and college football is better with variety

“As a kid, you know, you always dream of moments like this,” said Georgia defensive back Javon Bullard, who intercepted two passes.

All of this sent this former defenseman and defensive coach Smart into a near soliloquy about his defensive scouting team, and it all seemed to feel like TCU had encountered something bigger, faster and more powerful. than he had seen. It’s something that reigns – and rains red and black – on the country of football now, with an 81-15 record during the seven-season tenure of Smart, the former Georgia defensive back who once coordinated defense from another dynasty, Alabama. His last Georgian team would find “a regularity of performance [that] is hard to find,” Smart said, and he would express his admiration for it. And those who look at Georgia, especially those in Georgia Red and Black, would know they’ve seen a rare level in all the years of art.

“It seems like for three or four months,” Bennett said, “we’ve been looking to see if anyone can beat us, and we’ve just run out of games.”

And then he finished: “No one could.”

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