The Georgia Bulldogs sit atop the world. Get used to it

caption arrowCaption
The biggest momentsof the national championship game.Georgia receiver George Pickens catches a 52-yard pass in the first quarter.Alabama receiver Jameson Williams catches a 40-yard throw early in the second quarter, but injures his knee on the play.Alabama TE Cameron Latu explodes for a 61-yard catch and run to the Georgia 8-yard line with 6:49 to go in the second quarter. .Three plays later, Georgia's Channing Tindall sacks QB Bryce Young for a 13-yard loss, forcing Bama to kick a field goal. .The score at the half: Georgia 6, Alabama 9.Georgia intercepts a pass by Bryce Young with 12:05 to go in the 3rd quarter.Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter blocks a 48-yard field goal try by Alabama late in the 3rd quarter..Georgia RB James Cooks breaks loose on a 67-yard scamper late in the 3rd quarter.Georgia running back Zamir White scores on a 1-yard run three plays later, and the Dogs take the first lead of the game, 13-9.At the start of the 4th quarter, Alabama QB Bryce Young hit a 28-yard pass to Agiya Hall for a first down at the Georgia 5 yard line.A stout Georgia defense held, and Bama had to settle for another field goal.In a controversial call, Georgia QB Stetson Bennett is sacked as he appears to throw an incomplete pass; instead it's ruled a fumble.the ball is recovered by Alabama's Alab Brian Branch just before he steps out of bounds.Five plays later, Alabama takes the lead again on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Young to Cameron Latu.On the ensuing drive, Georgia QB Stetson Bennett hit Adonai Mitchell for a 40-yard TD, putting Georgia up again, 19-18.A 15-yard touchdown pass to TE Brock Bowers puts Georgia up 26-18 with 3:33 remaining.Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo intercepts a pass by Bryce Young and returns it 79 yards for a touchdown to ice the game

To gaze into the future might be construed as not paying due reverence to what occurred Monday night, but gaze we must. Next year’s national championship game is set for SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., which sits 12 miles from the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The date will be Jan. 9, 2023. Georgia fans should make travel plans. All this winning could go on for a while.

ExploreRead more about Georgia's national championship

Over the final 12 minutes at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Bulldogs answered all questions about Stetson Bennett, about Kirby Smart, about this program and the twin peaks it hadn’t yet climbed. By beating Alabama to win the national title, Georgia has left nothing undone. Few teams have the resources the Bulldogs possess. When those resources – rabid fans, fertile recruiting base, top-tier coaches, NFL-ready players, an all-in administration – coalesce, Georgia football is a colossus.

The College Football Playoff has been in place eight years. Four programs – Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia – have claimed 14 of the 16 berths in the championship game. The Bulldogs were unlucky not to win the title Jan. 8, 2018, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That they won it on their second CFP try tells us they were no one-hit wonder. They saw Roquan Smith, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel leave for the pros. They were back four years later, bigger and better.

Alabama isn’t apt to go away until Nick Saban steps aside, but how much longer does a 70-year-old who carries seven national championships care to work? Clemson, which became No. 1B to Bama’s No. 1A, dropped from the playoff to the Cheez-It Bowl and lost its longstanding offensive and defensive coordinators. Oklahoma saw coach Lincoln Riley leave for USC. Notre Dame lost Brian Kelly to LSU, which mightn’t be a fit.

caption arrowCaption
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett reacts as running back James Cook makes a long run during the 4th quarter in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`Georgi

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Georgia football-2022 roster tracker-live updates-transfer portal-2022 NFL Draft-coaching changes
caption arrowCaption
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett reacts as running back James Cook makes a long run during the 4th quarter in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`Georgi

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

You become a national championship coach only by winning a national championship. Having joined the club, Smart is more apt to become something approximating the next Saban – he was the sorcerer’s apprenticeship in Tuscaloosa before answering his alma mater’s call – than to fizzle in the manner of Gene Chizik and Ed Orgeron. Smart built Georgia in the Bama mold for a reason: The Bama mold works and keeps working.

We’ll wonder forever how Mark Richt’s Bulldogs would have fared in the playoff era. His teams in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2012 would have been tough outs in a four-team field. Alas, the Bowl Championship Series limited itself to No. 1 versus No. 2, and Richt’s teams were never better than No. 3. We keep hearing that the CFP is about to expand to 12 invitees, which would mean a team of Georgia’s eminence would need to mess up royally to fall from contention.

The Bulldogs have lost 10 games over five seasons. Four of the 10 were to Alabama. When they meet again, and you know they will, it will no longer be Little Brother facing Big Brother. It will be as equals. Not for nothing was Georgia favored over the Crimson Tide twice in five weeks. The belief in the industry held that Georgia had become the better team. The better team won Monday night. The world is that team’s oyster.

caption arrowCaption
Georgia's head coach Kirby Smart reacts as quarterback Stetson Bennett (not pictured) speaks during Champions News Conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Georgia's head coach Kirby Smart reacts as quarterback Stetson Bennett (not pictured) speaks during Champions News Conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
caption arrowCaption
Georgia's head coach Kirby Smart reacts as quarterback Stetson Bennett (not pictured) speaks during Champions News Conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Smart could have his pick of jobs, but Smart isn’t so silly as to chase bigger money at a lesser program. He’s making $7 million per year. He can name any price – almost any price – and UGA will meet it. He’s the new king of college football. He’s the prince of Athens. He came home to make his school win bigger. His school just won it all. He’s 46. He should have many more seasons left in him. Put it this way: He’s not leaving to coach Auburn.

We knew in 2017 that Smart’s Bulldogs were gathering steam. Nothing in sports is inevitable – weird stuff happens – but even after another stroke of that famous Alabama luck thrust the Tide into a fourth-quarter lead Monday, Georgia was unfazed. Said Bennett: “I knew when I fumbled the ball I was not going to be the reason we lost this game.”

Two minutes and five seconds later, the Bulldogs were ahead to stay. Bennett threw the prettiest ball of his life to Adonai Mitchell, who rose above defender Khyree Jackson to snag the rainbow. It was the sort of throw Bennett’s detractors believed the former walk-on couldn’t make, and he made it with a national championship on the line, and why are we still giving voice to those detractors?

Said Bennett: “It’s the thing coach Smart and the whole team has been preaching all year – resiliency, toughness, composure, connection.”

Georgia scored the frantic game’s final 20 points. It took its first national title in 41 years. It won’t have to wait so long for its next. It mightn’t have to wait any longer than next January. There’s no lid on this program anymore. The Bulldogs can beat any opponent, win any game. They’re where they always believed they belonged. They have no plans to vacate their exalted premises.

About the Author

Editors' Picks