On January 10th, the Georgia Bulldogs became the national college football champions of the 2021 season. After a suspenseful game, the Bulldogs eventually dethroned the University of Alabama Crimson Tide with an unexpected score of 33-18. The remarkable Georgia win in Lucas Oil Stadium was their first national championship win since 1980 and third ever national title. Regardless of Alabama’s #1 ranking, #3 Georgia managed to break their 7 game losing streak against coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
The first half of the game was tense with both teams being noticeably apprehensive, especially Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett who got sacked twice by the Crimson Tide defense. No touchdowns were scored but 3 field goals from Alabama’s kicker Will Reichard and 2 from Georgia kicker Jack Podlesny led to a 9-6 score at halftime.
In the third quarter, Georgia began their comeback with an interception of Alabama quarterback and Heisman winner Bryce Young by Georgia’s defensive back Christopher Smith. Later in the 3rd quarter, the Bulldogs’ defense managed to block Alabama’s field goal, their 3rd block of the season. Shortly after, Zamir White scored the first touchdown of the game and put Georgia in the lead with a score of 13-9.
The fourth quarter started with a field goal from Alabama’s Reichard bringing the score up to a close 12-13. Georgia’s Stetson Bennett then fumbled the ball, turning it over to Alabama. On this drive, Cameron Latu scored a touchdown reclaiming Alabama’s lead. Georgia answered with a 40 yard touchdown reception from Adonai Mitchell setting the score at 19-18. Nearing the end of the game, Freshman of the Year winner Brock Bowers scored a touchdown and Kelee Ringo completed a pick six for Georgia totaling the final score at a Bulldog win of 33-18.
When the clock hit 0:00, the Bulldogs coaching staff and ecstatic fans flooded the field as the announcer declared, “National champions, at long last,” nodding to the fact that UGA hasn’t won a national championship in 41 years.
As players, coaching staff, and fans celebrated their victory, head coach and former Georgia player Kirby Smart walked over to talk to his old boss Nick Saban. Saban congratulated Coach Smart on his first national college football championship. Smart and Saban both playing in the national championship this year is no coincidence. Both coaches have mastered the art of recruiting national champion talent onto their teams. If there’s one thing Saban has taught Smart in the decade they worked together, it’s that you can’t win a championship on coaching alone.
Shifting focus onto the Georgia players themselves, the defense made up for the last game against Alabama where they let up more yards in one game than they had all season. It was reported in the first game that a lot of players on the Bulldog defense caught the flu but still had to play since it was the SEC championship. Additionally, walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett had been receiving scrutiny almost all season from fans who favored backup quarterback JT Daniels. Bennett even said during the trophy presentation, “I wasn’t going to be the reason we lost,” expressing the pressures he felt from not only the game but his team’s own fans.