Rapid Reaction: Back-to-back! Georgia destroys TCU to repeat as national champs
Anthem to confetti, Georgia put together one of the most dominant title game performances Monday in Los Angeles, Calif., seemingly scoring at will en route to a 65-7 beatdown of TCU to win its 2nd consecutive national title.
The Dawgs set BCS/Playoff championship game records for most points scored and the widest margin of victory.
In the process, Georgia finished the season with 616 points, breaking last season’s program record of 579.
The Dawgs became the first repeat national champion since Alabama did it in 2011-12 and are sure to begin talks of a college football dynasty similar to those generally reserved for teams coached by Nick Saban.
Kirby Smart said before the game the Dawgs would hunt. And, boy, did they.
Any questions about how Georgia, nearly a 2-touchdown favorite entering the game, would fare against an upstart underdog like the Horned Frogs went out the building in the early moments of the first quarter. After forcing a TCU punt on its first drive of the game, Georgia went 57 yards in five plays, culminating in a 21-yard touchdown run by quarterback Stetson Bennett to give the Dawgs a 7-0 lead.
The play was executed so well that even the broadcast camera followed the wrong player, adjusting late as Bennett jogged into the end zone for the game’s opening score.
Bennett then added a 37-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Ladd McConkey, another 6-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter and a 22-yard touchdown pass to AD Mitchell just before halftime.
All told, the Dawgs scored 5 TDs and kicked a field goal on their 6 first-half drives.
Mitchell’s score continued his streak of scoring a touchdown in each of the 4 College Football Playoff games he’s played in.
For a quarterback who has defied doubters and turned in impressive performance after impressive performance over the past 2 years, Bennett saved the best for last.
Playing in his final game for the Dawgs, Bennett, facing off against fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Max Duggan, was nearly perfect in the first half. Playing in his final collegiate game, the former Georgia walk-on – who has turned into a bona fide all-time college football great – looked as loose as he’s ever played. Laughing to the sideline after successful place. Tossing completion after completion to open receivers. Running for touchdowns.
By halftime, Bennett had completed 13-of-17 passes for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns to go with 39 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing. He finished with 304 yards pass and 6 total touchdowns (4 passing, 2 rushing), and earned offensive most valuable player honors, an award he has won in every CFP game he has played in.
As if to assuage any fears of an Atlanta Falcons-like collapse, Georgia continued to attack in the third quarter. Bennett added a 22-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brock Bowers with 10:52 left in the third and a 14-yard score to McConkey near the end of the quarter.
Bowers, who caught 5 passes for 102 yards before the break, finished with 7 catches for 152 yards and a score.
Backup running back Branson Robinson ran for 2 TDs to cap the scoring.
The Georgia defense, which had been ranked near the top of the list nationally throughout the regular season, had been questioned over the course of the past 2 games. Against LSU in the SEC Championship, Georgia gave up over 500 yards passing and 30 points. In the Peach Bowl, Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud picked the Dawgs apart, scoring 41 points and nearly giving his team a victory.
On Monday night, the Dawgs were fantastic.
Cornerback Javon Bullard recorded 2 interceptions. The Georgia defense regularly punished Duggan, who finished 2nd in Heisman voting (ahead of Bennett). TCU finished with just 121 total yards in the first half.
The Horned Frogs finished the season 13-2, an incredible feat after being projected as the 7th-best team in the Big 12 entering the 2022 season. They finished last season with a losing record, but in first-year head coach Sonny Dykes’ first season at the helm put together one of the most improbably runs in recent memory.
Georgia’s 29-1 record over the past 2 seasons ties the modern record for most wins in a 2-year span. While Bennett will be gone next year – along with a host of other NFL hopefuls from the Dawgs – Georgia has a chance to go for the first 3-peat in modern college history.