Georgia And Ohio State Just Did
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 31: Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after… [+] defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart pocketed a $250,000 bonus for winning the Peach Bowl on Saturday night in Atlanta. He’ll get another $250,000 on Monday, Jan. 9 after his Bulldogs won their second straight national championship, and here’s why: He gets it.
You become a dynasty by looking ahead instead of behind.
Take Georgia, for example.
Minutes after the clock struck midnight — you know, literally, not just for a new year, but for Ohio State — Smart wasn’t focused on Georgia managing an improbable 42-41 win at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium after a potential game-winning field goal for Ohio State wobbled left. He was thinking ahead of his Bulldogs trying to win it all against a TCU team that outlasted Michigan earlier in the day in another College Football Playoff (CFP) semifinal game.
So the coach ripped his quarterback.
I’ll put it softer to start the new year: Kirby Smart mostly shrugged off Stetson Bennett who spent the final two minutes and 36 seconds of the game leading the Bulldogs from a six-point deficit on the game-breaking touchdown. and to extra point with the most effective 72-yard, five-play drive you’ll ever see.
“He has to play into our system for us to be successful. He has to play better if we hope to win the next one,” Smart told ESPN as his Bulldogs joined the Georgian-dominated crowd of 79,330 in going crazy in the background. The coach preferred to send a message to his 25-year-old quarterback in his sixth season, and it involved Bennett’s tough times – including an interception that helped Ohio State lead 21-7 at the second quarter – before his success at the end.
Smart added of his Bulldogs 14-0 overall, “I mean, at the end of the day, we didn’t play very well. Ohio State probably deserved to win the game, but we never gave up. We never give up.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 31: Javon Bullard #22 of the Georgia Bulldogs sacks CJ Stroud #7 of… [+] the Ohio State Buckeyes during the third quarter of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 31, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
No, the Bulldogs didn’t. Neither did Ohio State, thanks to quarterback CJ Stroud playing the game of his life. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, and he rushed for 34 yards. He kept the Buckeyes 12-2 in the lead throughout the night, but Georgia continued to shrug off his unusual uneven play on offense and defense to create a classic finish.
It was the CFP national championship game.
Well, the unofficial one.
In New York, they dropped the six-ton ball of crystal triangles in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, but in Atlanta, they retaliated with 800 pounds of fiberglass and foam resembling one of the peaches of Georgia. As for the latter, with about 50,000 to 60,000 people watching the whole thing from the so-called underground part of downtown Atlanta, that’s not the main reason nearly $60 million was generated this weekend for the local economy.
We are back to the unofficial national championship game.
If you follow a survey of 68 former college football players from 2001 to 2022 conducted by Goodyear and the Players’ Tribune, Ohio State fans travel better than any of their peers. Georgia fans are as loyal as it gets as Sanford Stadium’s 92,746 seats have been sold out for 63 straight games. In other words, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce loved this matchup.
Not only that, but only Alabama (7) and Clemson (6) have appeared in more CFP games than Ohio State (5). This is Georgia’s third trip in five years, and the Bulldogs join Ohio State with a national title since the CFP’s inception in 2014. Neither Michigan nor the TCU can say anything close to those. CFP things, which is why the most important game of the season happened. Saturday night in Atlanta.
For the record, TCU shocked significantly favored Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl to continue the Horned Frogs’ pursuit of making a lot of people look like 200-1 underdogs regarding their national title chances.
TEMPE, AZ – DECEMBER 29: Michigan State Spartans kicker Dan Conroy #4 celebrates after… [+] kicking a 47 yard field goal against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium on December 29, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. The Spartans defeated the Horned Frogs 17-16. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Don’t worry, Las Vegas. Championship honors won’t happen for TCU despite having a fairy tale season, because Georgia is just significantly better.
This was also the case for Ohio State, meaning CFP officials got their Final Four rankings wrong. They had No. 1 Georgia followed by Michigan, TCU and Ohio State. They should have made No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 TCU. If that happens, Georgia handles TCU in the semis without the hint of drama and a highly motivated Ohio State drops out of Michigan. after being crushed by the Wolverines at home during the regular season. final.
Which brings us back to Ohio State-Georgia.
For so many reasons, Georgia should have lost.
Nothing better than that: Smart’s vaunted defense spent a second game in a row watching an opponent abuse their secondary. First, LSU threw for over 500 yards against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, then Stroud combined with Marvin Harrison Jr. early on and Emeka Egbuka before, during, and after that, especially when an injury knocked Harrison out of the game deep into the third quarter.
Also, Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter spent much of the game looking like he needed an oxygen mask. This contributed to the Bulldogs’ lack of pass rush for much of the game. Clutch wide receiver Ladd McConkey has struggled with knee issues. And where was Brock Bowers, one of the best tight ends in college football? He was out until the end, but that’s when the Bulldogs needed him the most.
The same goes for Bennett, the Peach Bowl offensive MVP, but he came into this final practice completing just six passes for the half.
You know the rest.
The clock struck midnight, and just like that, Georgia transformed into a combination of a powerhouse with a Cinderella sequence.
Not good for TCU.