The college football champion for the 2021 season was crowned on Monday night in Indianapolis, as SEC rivals Alabama and Georgia clashed in the playoff’s national title game.
The game was a rematch from last month, when the Crimson Tide defeated the then-No. 1 Bulldogs, 41-24, to earn a playoff spot and give coach Nick Saban his fourth victory in four tries against former assistant Kirby Smart.
Georgia ends a 41-year title drought that began in 1980, during the freshman season of all-time great Herschel Walker. In the other previous meeting of conference foes in the national championship, the Bulldogs lost to Alabama in the 2017 title game.
After 41 years without a national championship, Bulldogs fans can finally rejoice. Georgia wore down Alabama in the fourth quarter and scored three touchdowns on four possessions to put them ahead 26-19 late, and Kelee Ringo sealed the 33-18 victory with a 79-yard interception return off an errant pass by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.
The running game was crucial as the Crimson Tide defense appeared to wilt late in the game. After Alabama took an 18-13 lead in the fourth quarter, James Cook and Zamir White found consistent room, and Stetson Bennett delivered two key touchdown passes to complete the comeback.
The long-overdue championship drought that began when Hershel Walker and Georgia won in 1980 is finally over, and the celebrations in Athens should be intense.
The defeat deprives Alabama of its seventh national championship under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide had flaws throughout the season, but they performed admirably in the SEC title game and the semifinal against Cincinnati. They only came up short because the loss of star receiver Jameson Williams hampered an offense that was already missing John Metchie. The Bulldogs were deeper and made key plays to seal the deal.
It took nearly 40 minutes, but the Bulldogs offense has finally woken up. Stetson Bennett hit Brock Bowers in the flat, and Bowers ran 15 yards untouched to the end zone. Georgia has three touchdown drives in its last four possessions. With 3:33 remaining, the Bulldogs lead 26-18.
The Bulldogs and Stetson Bennett didn’t give up after a blunder gave Alabama the lead in the fourth quarter. Todd Monken, the offensive coordinator, decided to live and die with his quarterback, calling for five consecutive pass plays.
Jemaine Burton’s catch and a pass interference call moved them into Alabama territory before Bennett found Adonai Mitchell for a 40-yard touchdown in the end zone’s corner. With 8:09 remaining, a two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score 19-18 Georgia.
Georgia was attempting to defend a 13-12 lead early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Stetson Bennett was pressured and broke the pocket. The ball went forward and tumbled toward the sideline after being hit while he was in a throwing motion. Brian Branch recovered for the Crimson Tide, though the call was unclear. After a lengthy replay review, officials determined that the ball was awarded to Alabama at the Bulldogs’ 16.
With 10:14 remaining, Bryce Young hit Cameron Latu on third down for a touchdown, putting the Crimson Tide ahead. The Bulldogs’ only saving grace was that they stopped the ensuing two-point conversion and kept the score at 18-13. We’re only one score away from taking the lead. Can their offense now produce enough points to get them into the end zone?
As yet another drive stalls near the Georgia end zone, the Crimson Tide has four field goals. Bryce Young had two touchdown passes to put Alabama ahead before Alabama coach Nick Saban decided to kick a field goal and cut his team’s deficit to 13-12 with less than 13 minutes remaining.
After James Cook’s 67-yard run put the Bulldogs in scoring position, his senior sidekick Zamir White scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 13-9, with 1:20 left in the third quarter.