No words can describe as Georgia wins first NCAA championship in 42 years


Ayaana Pradhan

Bryce Young, Dick Butkus, Aidan Hutchinson, and Ahmad Gardner made themselves known by everyone on their path to the College Football Playoff.

Max Berglind, Sports Reporter

Influence. Shock. Resilience. Experience. Those four words come to mind describing the final four participating in the 2021 College Football Playoff. Every team, every year has a different story to their season that gets them to their final destination. While it may not be the desired destination, it is where teams were meant to end up. 

Influence. Cincinnati was always an afterthought in Ohio, as Ohio St. was the powerhouse. They were initially ranked number eight in the top 25 at the beginning of the season and won ranked games against their conference rival Houston and Notre Dame. 

Led by standout cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Ahmad Gardner, the seventh-best pass defense allowed less than 180 passing yards per game. The big, tall Bearcat corners would intercept passes left and right, all the while locking down the opposing team’s number one wide receiver. Defensive backs are more sought out than ever in recruiting classes. Especially after the Bearcats’ stacked defensive back core carried Cincinnati to a number four seed in the college football playoff. 

Shock. Every expert thought the University of Michigan’s football team’s narrative would remain the same as the last five years. The Wolverines usually suffered a regular-season upset from a measly opponent followed by a blowout by archrival Ohio St. Michigan then shocked the world and dominated Ohio St, 42-27, behind three sacks from defensive captain Aidan Hutchinson and five rushing touchdowns from running back Hassan Haskins. The team went 12-1, resulting in the third seed in the college football playoff after not being ranked in the top 25 to begin the season. 

Resilience. The University of Georgia brought in the best recruiting class in 2020 with one goal in mind: To beat Alabama. The Georgia Bulldogs lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide the previous four meetings before the 2021 season. 

Standout linebacker Nakobe Dean and top recruit defensive tackle Jordan Davis. The stout defense of the Bulldogs allowed 9.5 points per game in the regular season, 5.5 points less than the next closest. 

The Southeastern Conference Championship was against none other than the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide dominated the Bulldogs, 42-24, winning the SEC title. Georgia, with the loss, locked up the second seed and would play the Wolverines in the Orange Bowl. 

Experience. Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban is not unfamiliar to the playoff setting. Alabama consistently brings in top ten recruiting classes to replenish any players lost to the NFL, as they have done for the last decade. 

Heisman-winning Quarterback Bryce Young carried the Crimson Tide to an SEC title, throwing for 4,782 yards, 47 touchdowns with a 67 completion percentage. 

The Tide suffered a regular-season loss to 14th-ranked Texas A&M. It was a loss that had people thinking that Alabama did not deserve the number one spot in the top 25. The Roll Tide would later secure the number one spot with a four-touchdown, 300-yard performance from Young in the SEC Championship win over Georgia.

Influence vs. Experience, the one seed vs. the four seed, for the Cotton Bowl. The semifinal between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Cincinnati Bearcats. 

The game would open with a Young touchdown pass to wide receiver Slade Bolden. 7-0 Alabama. A field goal by Cincinnati kicker Cole Smith on the ensuing drive would make it 7-3 in favor of the Tide. Alabama’s Will Reichard would kick a 26-yard field goal on the next drive, extending the Alabama lead back to seven. Young found wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks on the sequential drive. 

The touchdown would give the Tide a two-touchdown advantage over the Bearcats. The Roll Tide was going right at the strength of Cincinnati, and it was paying off in spades. Another Bearcat field goal to open the second half, this time from 37 yards out, would be Cincinnati’s last scoring of the night. Young would find tight end Cameron Latu from nine yards out to give the Tide a 24-6 lead. One more Will Reichard field goal put the game out of reach, and Alabama won 27-6. 

Resilience vs. Shock. The battle for the Orange Bowl. A trip to the National Championship was on the line for the Georgia Bulldogs and the Michigan Wolverines. Georgia would jump out quick with a strike from quarterback Stetson Bennett to tight end Brock Bowers from nine yards out. Michigan turned it over on downs, and later the Bulldogs would draw up some trickery. 

Georgia running back Kenny McIntosh threw an 18-yard touchdown to wide receiver Adonai Mitchell. A Jack Podlesny field goal extended Georgia’s lead, and after a Michigan punt made it 17-0. Michigan would finally get on the board with a Jake Moody field goal with 7:16 left in the first half. Another field goal and touchdowns from Bennett with one to wide receiver Jermaine Burton and one to running back James Cook would be the three succeeding scores of the game, putting Georgia up 34-3. 

Michigan would finally get their lone touchdown of the game, a 35-yard pass from freshman backup quarterback JJ McCarthy to wide receiver Andrel Anthony. Wolverines running back AJ Henning would run in for the two-point conversion, and the margin was now 34-11 Georgia. The lead stuck, and Georgia would play Alabama in the National Championship.

Ah, the National Championship. The culmination of the college football season boils down to one ultimate locking of the horns for national supremacy. Alabama is vying for its fourth national championship since the invention of the playoff in 2015. Georgia wants another shot at knocking off their bitter rivals. 

The entire first half’s scoring consisted of field goals, showcasing the prowess of the two defenses. Alabama led by a score of 9-6 going into the half. After a punt by Georgia to start the half, safety Christopher Smith intercepted a Young pass. Alabama would come away from the turnover unscathed with another Georgia punt. Georgia blocked an Alabama field goal attempt on the ensuing defensive drive. The Bulldogs answered right back on offense, with running back Zamir White tumbling into the endzone for the game’s first touchdown. Alabama responded as a Reichard field goal made it 13-12 in favor of Georgia. Bennett and the Bulldogs turned it over on a fumble, and Alabama was inside the 20-yard line. 

Young, after four plays, found security blanket Cameron Latu for a three-yard touchdown. Latu caught six touchdowns in the regular season and became a favorite of Young’s in the red zone. The two-point conversion failed, and Alabama was up 18-13 with a little over 10 minutes left in the game. With revenge on their minds, a 40-yard missile from Bennett to Mitchell gave the Bulldogs the lead. The two-point attempt failed, and the score stood at 19-18 in favor of Georgia. Georgia’s defense then showed what they did all year: stifle their opponents on offense. 

A quick three-and-out from Alabama turned into a touchdown for Georgia’s tight end Brock Bowers. The former walk-on showed up big time for the Bulldogs down the stretch, hauling in massive touchdowns during the regular season. The point after was converted by Podlesny, making the margin eight with the Crimson Tide having one last shot to add to their already massive trophy case.

As the Crimson Tide was driving down the field, Georgia fans looked on with the hope that their defense would make a play. Then, with just under a minute to play, Georgia cornerback leaped into the air and intercepted a Bryce Young pass that he brought back 79 yards for a touchdown. The interception-turned touchdown effectively ended the game, with the Bulldogs winning, 33-18.

The pick-six represented years of heartbreak and hardships for the Georgia faithful. Blown leads and comebacks coming up just short were now a thing of the past. Georgia can now rest easy after being so resilient.