College football writer and college basketball writer
It was just a year ago when Georgia embarrassed Michigan In the semi-finals of the College Football Playoff, the Wolverines coach, known for his impenetrable pride, waved the white flag before the third quarter ended.
That’s when Jim Harbaugh removed the starting quarterback Cady McNamara To save him from an infernal defense packed with eight NFL Draft draft picks that smashed the Wolverines’ offensive game plan.
Fast forward to Monday night, where Georgia choked TCU In the national championship, which turned out to be a 65-7 Carnage, The Horned Frogs coach known for his gritty, machine-gun-wielding personality and wary of the wind raised the surrender sign even earlier, with a quarter and a half remaining.
That was when Sonny Dykes kicked the ball wide near midfield, despite being 38 points behind on the scoreboard and nothing to lose in a game his team entered as underdogs.
The first was a dominating victory over a team that had dominated the Big Ten the past two seasons, a rejuvenated Blue Blood that returned to the national spotlight with two defeats. Ohio State On the way to back-to-back conference titles.
The latter was a schoolyard defeat of the best the Big 12 could offer at a time when the traditional powers Oklahoma And Texas They walk the waters ahead of high-profile moves to the Southeastern Conference. Throw in the CFP Semifinals over the Buckeyes and handle from Alabama For winning the National Championship last year and the Bulldogs don’t have much left to prove with 29 wins in their last 30 games.
“It seems like for the last three or four months we’ve been looking forward to seeing if someone can beat us,” Georgia midfielder Stetson Bennett He said, “And we’re out of toys. Nobody can.”
The Georgia Bulldogs dominate TCU in the national championship
It’s a story that isn’t likely to change anytime soon, given the breadth of talent that will return to Georgia next season. bulldog has it Already opening as a favorite to win a third title in a row, per FOX Bet.
The list starts with Brock Powers, a striking second tight end who would be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft if the rules let him in. He caught seven passes for 152 yards and a touchdown Monday night, while tormenting the Horned Frogs out of the hole, from positions in the line, from wherever offensive coordinator Todd Monken chose to deploy him.
Powers snapped and rushed through tackle attempts to compile 58 yards after connecting as easily as he beat a safety Abe Kamara For an acrobatic 14-yard score to begin the third quarter. There was a point in the second half when he had the lead against TCU himself – 152 yards against Bowers; 126 total yards for the Horned Frogs—and calling him the most dangerous weapon in college football hardly does Bowers enough justice.
And he is not alone.
The scariest aspect of Georgia’s outing to a second straight national title is how many underclassmen played prominent roles in the dynamic Satan that Smart has built.
Secondary defensive back Javon Pollard He was named Defensive Player of the Game after two interceptions and recovery of a fumble that led to 17 points on turnovers. wide receiver Adonay Mitchell He caught a breathtaking one-handed touchdown pass from Bennett as he wrestled the ball away from a defender. New player at full back Samil Mondon Jr He led the Bulldogs in tackles with five. A real novice nose tackle Bear Alexander He cracked a career-high two tackles for a loss, one of which was a sack. None of the starting tacklers are old.
“The biggest challenge is the same we live in today, the society we live in: entitlement,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart. “The moment you think you have the right to win games and you don’t have to work hard – the uphill battle for these guys (the comeback) is that you think you just inherited success. And I personally think next year is going to be more challenging than this year because we had a lot of Players who left last year. A lot of players have come back.”
Is Georgia the next dynasty in College Football?
It’s true that Smart will see off a handful of bigwigs led by Bennett, who completed 18 of 25 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns before finally exhausting his eligibility at age 25. Darnell Washingtonthe tail Kenny Macintoshdefensive line Galen Carter and cornerback Kelly RingoAmong others, at least two of them are expected to be first-round picks.
But waiting in the wings is another elite recruiting class that is ranked second nationally behind Alabama in 247 Sports Composite. Smart’s freshman freshmen include two five-star prospects in edge climber Damon Wilson (No. 13 overall) and cornerback AJ Harris (No. 32 overall), as well as 22 four-star prospects, all top 300 recruits. . The five highest-ranked players fall on the defensive side of the ball to restock a locker that has been overflowing for years. And one of those players — inside linebacker Raylen Wilson, the 52nd in the country — turned to Georgia after initially committing to Michigan.
“They obviously have really good players,” said the TCU QB Max Dugan He said. “I bet they’re in the top 10 recruiting class every year. And then they develop them, and they have a really good coaching staff. So that’s a good recipe for success, and that’s why they’ve been so successful the last couple of years. Now when you come out of a game like this, you know what you need to improve if You want to be on this stage again, if you want to compete with guys like Georgia.”
The only thing missing in Georgia’s recruiting process is a quarterback, though that could change between now and the February signing period. Smart has signed at least one signal call in every recruiting class since he took over the program on December 6, 2015, but there’s plenty of talent behind Bennett on the depth chart that he probably won’t even bother with.
Support Carson Becka redshirt sophomore, was a four-star and the No. 9 quarterback in the class of 2020. Third stringer Brooke VandagriffHe was a redshirt freshman, a five-star prospect and the fourth player in the class of 2021. Gunner StocktonA true freshman, he was a four-star prospect and the No. 7 quarterback in the class of 2022.
Debates about who should be the Bennett heir will dominate talk radio between now and next season’s opener, but Georgia isn’t the only elite program that needs to replace its top-tier quarterback.
Alabama loses former Heisman Trophy winner Bryce YoungWhile Ohio State He will likely concede a Heisman Trophy Final bye CJ Stroud. Tennessee Moves forward without Hendon HookerWhile University of California See Dorian Thompson Robinson Take his swan song. There are high profile returnees in USC (Caleb Williams), Michigan (JJ McCarthy), Florida (Jordan Travis), LSU (Jaden Daniels), Oregon (Bo Nix) And Washington (Michael Bennix Jr.)but only one of those teams has reached the playoff in the last five years.
Georgia, Michigan and Colorado headline RJ Young’s Way-Too-Early Top 25
“We’ve got some good players out there,” Smart said. “We got one that took off a black shirt and took a beating all week so Max (Dugan would be on the scouting team). And Gunner Stockton said, ‘Coach, take my shirt off, I’m going to hit.’ And Brock Vandagriff has been learning all year. Carson Beck has had a lot of Playing time and he has a lot of composure to come back and be able to play. So these three guys are going to fight it. They’re going to learn a lot.”
So why can’t the Bulldogs get back to this point and claim a third straight national title? Why not be the first team to race three times since then Minnesota Did she do it in 1934, 1935 and 1936? Why can’t Smart get past Alabama coach Nick Saban and do something his mentor hasn’t accomplished yet?
At this point, it wouldn’t be wise to bet on them.
Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with a focus on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter @michael_cohen13.
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