On Monday night, No. 1 Georgia beat No. 3 TCU 65-7 to become the first team to win consecutive College Football Playoff national championships. Stetson Bennett accounted for four touchdowns in the game, throwing for two and running for two.
The undefeated Bulldogs (15-0) proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had supplanted the Crimson Tide as the new bullies on the block by becoming the first repeat champions since Alabama won back-to-back titles a decade ago.
The first Cinderella team in the playoff era, TCU (13-2), was completely outclassed by Georgia (14-1). The Bulldogs would not be hypnotized by the Hypnotoads as Michigan was in the Fiesta Bowl semi.
Like Nebraska’s 38-point rout of Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, USC’s 36-point rout of Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl, and Alabama’s 28-point BCS championship blowout against Notre Dame in 2013, Georgia produced one of the all-time beatdowns in a game that decided a national championship.
Unfortunately, this was even worse. We have too much good talent to waste. Unfortunately, they had too good of a coach. Georgia has won two consecutive national championships under head coach Kirby Smart.
Since the BCS’s inception in 1998, no team has ever scored more than that in the title game.
In the final game of Bennett’s winding collegiate career, with 13:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, head coach Kirby Smart called timeout in the midst of an offensive drive so Bennett could retire to hero’s applause.
He passed for 304 yards and four scores while going 18 for 25.
As the game came to a close, the offensive linemen for Georgia munched on chicken wings on the sidelines.
In seven years as head coach at Georgia, Smart has led the Bulldogs to an 81-15 record and two national championships. His role model, Nick Saban, started off as coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide and went 79–15 in seven seasons while winning three national championships.
This season’s Bulldogs team was not quite as stingy on defense but more dynamic offensively, yet they were still dominant.
Fans of Smart’s old institution, Georgia, were initially skeptical that the former defensive coordinator for Saban could create an offense competitive with the current scoring standards of college football.
The Bulldogs’ offense has flourished under third-year coordinator Todd Monken, who has introduced a wide variety of new strategies. TCU’s 3-3-5 defense was dissected from every possible vantage point.
Flexible end tight end Seven of Brock Bowers’ receptions totaled 152 yards. Ladd McConkey scored two touchdowns as a receiver. A total of 254 yards were gained while running the ball for Georgia, with seven different runners reaching double figures.
During the first half, the Bulldogs had six opportunities to advance the ball and scored on each one. Bennett ran it in twice; the two-time national champion and former walk-on barely got touched on either of his quarterbacks keeps.
In the first quarter, on a wonderfully executed play out of a bunched formation that had TCU’s defensive backs in disarray, he hit a wide-open McConkey for a 34-yard touchdown. Bennett’s touchdown pass to Adonai Mitchell for 22 yards was more difficult because it had to be dropped in over a defender who was providing tight coverage.
Reminiscent of the Bennett-to-Mitchell touchdown that gave Georgia a lead it wouldn’t lose in the fourth quarter of last year’s CFP championship game against Alabama, this play seemed similar.
Last year, Georgia defeated the Tide to win the national championship, avenging the Bulldogs’ lone loss from the regular season.
Against the upstart Horned Frogs, there was no such drama.
The Bulldogs were never threatened by Alabama this season. They breezed through the Southeastern Conference, made it past Ohio State in a memorable College Football Playoff quarterfinal, and then firmly established themselves as a rising dynasty.
With 10:52 remaining in the third quarter, Bennett threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brock Bowers, increasing the lead to 47-7. While sprawled out on the field at Sofi Stadium, the sophomore tight end threw up his hands to indicate a touchdown. Bennett beamed as he and one of his linemen tapped helmets.
Although the University of Georgia’s beloved bulldog mascot, UGA, was unable to make the trip to Sanford Stadium in Southern California to cheer on the Bulldogs, the atmosphere was strikingly similar.
Many TCU supporters left the game with over half of the fourth quarter still to play, opting to brave the dreary weather outside rather than endure another minute of the lopsided loss.
Runner-up for the Heisman Trophy In the final game of his wild TCU career, Max Duggan threw two interceptions in the first half.
TCU’s improbable run this season was headed by Duggan, a four-year starter who had never appeared in a bowl game before. In Sonny Dykes’ first season as head coach, the Horned Frogs were expected to finish seventh in the Big 12 and were unranked nationally after a losing season.
Despite this, they won nine games by a margin of 10 points or less. They needed just one more victory to claim the program’s first championship since 1938.