The University of Georgia Football Team won the 2021 National Championship as a rematch against the University of Alabama after a 41 year drought on Monday, Jan. 10 in the Lucas Oil Stadium of Indianapolis with a final score of 33-18.
Georgia and Alabama faced off for the SEC Championship in Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Going into the game, No. 1 ranked Georgia was picked to win against No. 3 ranked Alabama.
Georgia had a dominating regular season and week after week smothered their opponents, rising in ranking after Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M in Week 6. While Alabama dropped ranking tremendously, Georgia moved to Alabama’s previous slot at the top and continued to power through their season.
Alabama defeated Georgia as the underdog 41-24 for the SEC title. After the devastating loss, Georgia dropped to the No. 4 slot, and Alabama was boosted to the top; however, Georgia was still in the semifinals, but would have to beat Michigan to get a rematch.
When the Orange Bowl came, Georgia showed their previous style and overpowered Michigan with brute force. Georgia was headed to Indianapolis for justice against Alabama.
Prior to being Georgia’s Head Coach, Kirby Smart served under Alabama’s Head Coach, Nick Saban, as his Defensive Coordinator. Kirby began coaching at his alma mater in 2016 and, since then, has lost four straight times against Saban.
As the National Championship game came around, Alabama was picked to win by a field goal. Both teams had been powerhouses throughout the season, and the game was expected to be a close, low-scoring game.
The game started just as expected-Alabama and Georgia neck and neck, only scoring field goals. Every time one team would reach the red zone, the other would stop them prior to the end zone, forcing them to kick a field goal for any hope of points.
Alabama took the lead in the first quarter with a field goal. However, during the second quarter it was back and forth with field goals. Both Alabama and Georgia scored two field goals in the second. The Crimson Tide was leading 9-6 heading into halftime.
During the third quarter, the game continued as a close, high-stakes game. Georgia finally was able to take the lead and score the first touchdown of the game, when running back Zamir “Zeus” White rushed from the one yard line with 1:20 left in the third quarter.
Alabama was able to reach the red zone; however, they settled for a field goal due to Georgia’s defense.
Georgia turned up the heat in the fourth quarter. Controversy arose when quarterback Stetson Bennett was sacked and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Alabama defensive back Brian Branch. Referees ruled the play as a fumble, but many believed it was an incomplete pass. However, once reviewed, the call was confirmed and stood as a fumble. Georgia’s lead was stolen as Alabama scored their first touchdown of the game just a few plays later.
Just over two minutes later Bennett hit wide receiver Adonai “AD” Mitchell for a 40-yard touchdown pass, taking the lead back 19-18. With 3:33 left in the game, Georgia tight end Brock Bowers ran it in for Georgia’s second touchdown of the fourth quarter, furthering the lead to 26-18.
Although Georgia’s offense dominated in the fourth quarter, their defense took the cake for the play of the game when cornerback Kelee Ringo intercepted an Alabama pass and ran it back 79 yards for a touchdown. Emotion erupted from the Georgia sideline, as the interception was caught-Stetson Bennett broke into tears. The game ended with a final score of 33-18.
Players of the Game:
Offensive: Stetson Bennett, QB
Stetson was awarded the Offensive MVP for the National Championship for his impeccable ability and determination to bring his team to victory. He had 224 total yards and a 65.4% completion rate. Stetson is the first previous walk-on quarterback to win the National Championship.
Defensive: Nakobe Dean, LB
Nakobe was awarded the Defensive MVP for the National Championship for his ability to read where help was needed and step up for the job. He kept his teammates accountable and contributed to Georgia’s defensive being as dominating as they were throughout the season. Nakobe is the 2021 Butkus Award winner.
For the first time since 1980, the Georgia Bulldogs are National Champions. Bulldog fans lined up in droves on Saturday for a parade in Athens on Lumpkin Street, which culminated with a celebration program in Sanford Stadium.
The 41-year title deficit came full circle, and all it took was everything the players, coaches, and fans had.