For college football fans who were upset about an All-SEC national championship, the game was anything but upsetting. In fact, this year’s 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, which took place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, was not only thrilling, but an instant classic for the ages. Alabama defeated Georgia 26-23, giving Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban his 6th National Championship, 5th at Alabama, as well as his 5th in the past nine years, making it the shortest span to win 5 titles since Bear Bryant did it in 16 years.
While Alabama came out on top at the end, it was Georgia who controlled the game for most of the night, even leading 13-0 at halftime as the result of two field goals and a 1-yard touchdown by Mecole Hardman. For the Crimson Tide, the 2nd half was where everything changed, starting with Coach Saban deciding to replace starting quarterback Jalen Hurts with true freshman backup Tua Tagovailoa. Alabama finally cracked the scoreboard in the 3rd quarter with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Henry Ruggs III. But on the first play of Georgia’s next drive, they got those points right back with 80-yard touchdown pass from Jake Fromm to Mecole Hardman, making it 20-7. An Alabama field goal would make it 20-10 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
In the 4th quarter it was practically all Alabama. Down by 10 points at the start, Alabama kicked a field goal, making it 20-13 Georgia with 9:24 left in regulation. Despite numerous attempts by Georgia to score again, the Alabama defense stood firm, forcing Georgia to punt the ball back to them. Then with 3:49 left, Tagovailoa throws a 7-yard touchdown pass to star receiver Calvin Ridley, tying the game at 20. After Alabama gets the ball back, they march downfield to the Georgia side of the field, giving Alabama’s kicker Andy Pappanostos the chance to win the game with a 36-yard field goal with three seconds left. Pappanostos shanked the field goal, however, sending the game to overtime.
After a 51-yard Georgia field goal to take the lead 23-20, Alabama came right back for the win. After a 16 yard sack by the Georgia defense, Tagavailoa connected DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard touchdown pass to win the national championship, stunning Georgia, the world, and maybe even themselves. While certainly Alabama is proud, Georgia should be as well, as they return several defensive starters and their quarterback, Jake Fromm, is only a true freshman. Both Alabama and Georgia will be competing for many more championships in the near future.