Heading into the 2022 college football season, Georgia players shared a message with head coach Kirby Smart about the style of play they wanted to bring to the field.
“Our kids said, ‘We want to play from a point of being aggressive’” Smart said. “We’re not letting people come after us this year. That’s not what it’s about. We’re gonna come after you every down and put pressure on you every down.”
That message was on full display Monday night in the Bulldogs’ dominant 65-7 victory over TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
There were plenty of highlight moments throughout the game for Georgia, but there was one moment in particular that, according to FOX Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt, let the college football world know that Georgia now runs the sport.
Holding onto a commanding 59-7 lead with 10:08 remaining in the game, Smart opted to go for it on fourth-and-5 from the TCU 24-yard line. Backup QB Carson Beck completed an 11-yard pass to Dillon Bell, and the Bulldogs went on to score two plays later.
“I think Kirby Smart and Georgia were sending a message to all of college football that they run college football now,” Klatt said of Smart’s decision to go for it on that fourth-down play. “Everybody is chasing the Georgia Bulldogs, and in a lot of ways, that fourth quarter and those decisions, that was Kirby announcing to the world: We run the sport. You come out here against the Dawgs, you better buckle up.”
Has Georgia taken the throne of college football?
Joel Klatt explains why the Georgia Bulldogs are the kings of college football and have dethroned Alabama.
The Bulldogs were dominant from the opening kickoff Monday night, outgaining the Horned Frogs 589-188, while also converting 32 first downs to TCU’s nine. Perhaps the most alarming stat, and there were plenty of them, was that Georgia didn’t punt until the third quarter.
When asked what he was looking for from his team ahead of kickoff, Smart gave a short, simple answer that proved to be true. “Aggression,” he said. “We’re going hunting tonight.”
Georgia did just that, and while Smart’s aggressive playcalling might have raised some eyebrows, Klatt understood that is part of that larger message he was sending.
“There are some teams that can buckle up and play a great game against them, but that’s the message he was sending, and I can’t argue with that,” Klatt said. “Kirby is under no obligation to call the dogs off, and I think Sonny Dykes would probably agree with me. If you can’t stop their backups, that’s not his problem. And I’m OK with that.”
It is no secret Georgia didn’t play its best game against Ohio State in a narrow 42-41 victory in the Peach Bowl. History wasn’t going to repeat itself on Monday, and Smart made sure the college football world understood that.
The Bulldogs’ totaled 11 offensive possessions in the game and scored on 10 of them, not including the final drive of the game, which resulted in a victory formation and three straight kneel downs. The 72 points Georgia put up marked the highest point total ever in a BCS/CFP championship game.
It was the most dominant college football national title performance not only in the College Football Playoff era, but perhaps ever, which led Klatt to make the following assessment.
“Kirby Smart and Georgia have passed Alabama,” Klatt said.
Georgia has a long way to go before its trophy case is as stocked as Alabama’s – The Crimson Tide have 18 national championships to the Bulldogs’ three – but what Smart has done in seven seasons is nothing short of remarkable.
Since arriving in Athens in 2016, Smart has compiled an 81-15 record, which includes six AP Top 10 finishes, five SEC division titles, two conference championships, and now two national championships.
Since Georgia won its first national title back in 1980, only three other programs have won consecutive national championships: Nebraska (1994-95), USC (2003-04) and Alabama (2011-12).
The statistics certainly back up the fact that Georgia is indeed the new measuring stick in the sport. The days of fans thinking “Alabama will just win it all again this year” are gone, and Smart made sure of that.
“Alabama’s current run is the best run we’ve ever seen in college football. I don’t think we’re going to see it equaled,” Klatt said. “Having said that, if you take more of a micro-outlook of what we’re seeing in the last 18-19 months in college football, Georgia is the preeminent program in the sport now. They run the sport.”
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