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Crimson Tide v. Bulldogs (College Football)

Ian Sutliff, Writer

On Jan. 8 the Alabama Crimson Tide took on the Georgia Bulldogs in the fourth annual College Football Playoff National Championship at the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta. Alabama had come into the game with a 12-1 record after beating Clemson 24-6 in its third straight meeting in the CFP. Georgia on the other hand took on the Sooners and Heisman winner, Baker Mayfield. It was a long fought battle at the Rose Bowl that went to double overtime. The Bulldogs eventually prevailed in a 54-48 win after a blocked field goal and a long touchdown run by star running back Sony Michel.

 

Alabama and Georgia carried their stellar defenses into Monday night’s national championship trying to prove which team was the top dog in the SEC. The game started off very slowly with both teams not being able to get their high powered offenses into the end zone. Georgia played one of their best quarters of the year Monday night when they were able to put up 13 points on Alabama’s tough defense and force Bama to go three and out for three straight drives in the second quarter.

 

Nick Saban, down 13-0 at the half had to figure out how to win his fifth national championship in nine years. Kirby Smart, the former assistant of Saban was looking to be the first of Saban’s twelve students to beat him. The eleven-year Alabama head coach knew he had to do something big to at least keep his team in the game. This gutsy call was to bench his Sophomore quarterback, Hurts, who has gone 25-2 as a starter. Saban would give the ball to his left-handed Freshman quarterback, Tua Tagovialoa.

 

The decision to go with Tua didn’t work immediately though, as Tagovailoa led the Tide to yet another three and out. Things were looking as if they were on the brink of a blow out, but Bama got the stop they needed and marched 56 yards in seven plays to get within six points of the Bulldogs. On the next drive, Georgia was able to match the Crimson Tide by going 93 yards on only four plays to regain their 13-point lead.

 

Down 20-7, Alabama was able to score two field goals to cut the lead to 20-13. After Georgia’s third three and out of the half, Alabama was just 66 yards away from tying the game. Tua led a perfect drive down the field in eight plays to tie the game and give his team a shot to win the game. Georgia was held to just seven yards on the next drive and set up the Tide with a possible game winning drive. Tagovailoa led Alabama on another great drive, which set up the Crimson Tide kicker up with a 36 yard field goal. If the field goal was good the Tide would have another title and if it missed, the game would be headed to overtime.

 

Andy Pappanastos was 14/15 on the season with field goals inside the 40 yard range. Even with a perfect snap and hold, the senior kicker could not get the ball through the uprights. This sent the game to overtime and gave the Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm only twenty five yards to score. The drive didn’t end in a touchdown, but the Bulldogs were able to walk away with three points and put the pressure on. The way Pappanastos was kicking the ball that night almost ensured that the Tide needed a touchdown. Georgia’s defense was able to come up with a huge play on first down by sacking Tagovailoa for a loss of 16. Saban and his staff had to do something big to make up the lost yardage. On the next play, the Bama receiver, Devonta Smith lined up by himself on the left sideline. Smith beat his man in coverage and Tua forced the safety to move right and then threw the ball out in front of Smith. Smith was able to run under the ball in the endzone and win it all for the Tide.

 

There were many takeaways from the national championship game this year. Nick Saban made maybe the most gutsy call he will ever have to make and a freshman who never played any meaningful football this year led his team back from being down 13 to win the national championship. It was also nice to see the once starting quarterbacks for Alabama (Jalen Hurts) and Georgia (Jacob Eason) be great teammates even when two inexperienced freshman played in their place during the title game. With the transfers, recruits, and coaching changes, the 2018-19 season is looking like it might be even more entertaining than this year.

 

Graphic courtesy of COVERTHESPREAD365.COM

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Crimson Tide v. Bulldogs (College Football)