(AP) — Stetson Bennett threw two touchdown passes and scored two first-half scores as No. 1 Georgia routed No. 3 TCU 65-7 Monday night to become the first team to win back-to-back College Football Playoff national championships .
The Bulldogs (15-0) became the first repeat champs since Alabama back-to-back a decade ago and left no doubt that they had replaced the Crimson Tide as the new bullies on the block.
TCU (13-2), the first Cinderella team of the playoff era, never stood a chance against juggernaut Georgia. Unlike Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl semifinals, the Bulldogs didn’t fall under the spell of the Hypnotoads.
Georgia pulled off one of the most shutouts ever in a national title game, reminiscent of Nebraska’s 38-point victory over Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, USC’s 36-point victory over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl and Alabama’s 28-point blowout BCS championship game over Notre Dame in 2013.
But it was worse.
Too much talent. Too well trained. Two straight titles for coach Kirby Smart’s Dawgs.
No team has ever scored more points in a national championship game since the BCS’s inception in 1998.
With 13:25 left in the fourth quarter, coach Kirby Smart called a timeout midway through the offensive play so Bennett could exit to a hero’s ovation in the final game of his circuitous college career.
He finished 18 of 25 for 304 yards and four touchdown passes.
Georgia offensive linemen snacked on chicken wings on the sideline as the game wound down.
Smart is now 81-15 in his first seven seasons at Georgia with two national titles. His mentor, Alabama coach Nick Saban, was 79-15 with three titles in his first seven seasons with the Tide.
The Bulldogs have been a different kind of dominant this season: not as stingy on defense, but more explosive on offense.
Earlier in Smart’s tenure at his alma mater, Georgia fans worried whether Saban’s former defensive coordinator would be able to build an offense that would match this high-scoring era of college football.
Under third-year coordinator Todd Monken, the Bulldogs have become productive, creative and diverse on offense. They opted for TCU’s 3-3-5 defense on all sides.
Versatile tight end Brock Bowers had seven catches for 152 yards. Receiver Led McConkey caught two TDs. Georgia rushed for 254 yards, with seven players scoring at least 10.
In the first half, the Bulldogs scored on all six of their touches. Twice Bennett launched it himself; The former walk-on turned two-time national champion was barely touched by two defenders.
In the first quarter, he hit McConkey wide for 34 yards, a perfectly executed play from a tight formation that had TCU’s defensive backs in disarray. Bennett’s 22-yard score to Adonai Mitchell was the ultimate in difficulty, falling through a defender in tight coverage.
It was very reminiscent of the Bennett-Mitchell touchdown that gave Georgia a fourth-quarter lead it didn’t relinquish against Alabama in last year’s CFP title game.
Georgia beat the Tide to end a 41-year drought last season, avenging their only regular season loss.
There was no such drama against the upstart Horned Frogs.
The Bulldogs didn’t have to worry about Alabama this year. They cruised through the SEC, survived Ohio State in the CFP Classic Semifinals, and then emphatically established themselves as a developing dynasty.
Bennett hit Brock Bowers 22 yards with 10:52 left in the third quarter to make it 45-7. The sophomore tight end scored the touchdown while lying on the turf at Sophie Stadium. Bennett smiled broadly as he tapped the helmets with one of his linemen.
UGA’s famous Georgia Bulldog mascot couldn’t make the cross-country trip to cheer on his team, but it still felt like Sanford Stadium in SoCal.
Many TCU fans left the game with more than half of the fourth quarter remaining, choosing to head out into the rainy and cold night rather than witness a huge mismatch.
Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan had two interceptions in the first half in the final game of TCU’s rollercoaster career.
A four-year starter who had never played in a bowl before this season, Duggan led TCU on one of the most incredible runs in college football history. Unranked nationally after a losing season and ranked seventh in the Big 12 in Sonny Dykes’ first year as coach, the Frogs won nine games by 10 points or less. They were within touching distance of winning the program’s first national title since 1938.
Georgia Bulldogs route TCU, 65-7, for back-to-back college football national titles
Source link Georgia Bulldogs route TCU, 65-7, for back-to-back college football national titles