In what may be one of the best college football championship games in history, the Georgia Bulldogs allowed the Alabama Crimson Tide to do the exact thing they did to the Oklahoma Sooners just a week ago.
The Bulldogs were up by 13 points at halftime against the Crimson Tide. A week ago in the Rose Bowl, Oklahoma was up by 14 points at halftime against the Georgia.
Both teams losing at half-time came back to win the game in overtime. It took Georgia two overtime possessions to come away with the win in the Rose Bowl, but it only took Alabama one overtime possession.
This was not just a loss for the University of Georgia football players and their fans, but the loss felt all too similar to the one the professional team that resides in Georgia, the Atlanta Falcons, experienced in last year’s Super Bowl.
This loss left the same feeling the Falcons left when they allowed the New England Patriots to come back from a 28-point deficit and beat them in the Super Bowl, which coincidently also went into overtime.
The Bulldogs dominated the first half but only managed to score one touchdown and kicked two field goals. They also had a costly interception on their first possession of the game.
Alabama players could not capitalize on that turnover as the kicker missed the field goal so some would say that negates the interception. I think otherwise.
Alabama could not score off the turnover but that does not negate the turnover because it still took away a possession from the Bulldogs in which they could have possibly put points on the board, whether a touchdown or field goal, which could have changed the final outcome of the game.
Alabama coach Nick Saban made a huge decision to bench his starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, who had a 25-2 record over two seasons, in the second half of the game to put in an inexperienced true freshman, Tua Tagovailoa. On social media, many people were shocked with the move by Saban, who is arguably the best head coach in college.
That was until this freshman started to move through that Bulldogs defense, breaking tackles and extending plays with his legs like the baby Russell Wilson he is. They said he was panicking and crazy to bench his starting quarterback for this freshman and everyone remembered that he is the Bill Belichick of college football and he makes it very difficult to ever bet against him and his decisions.
When Tagovailoa came in to replace the struggling Hurts, he threw three touchdowns passes, including the 41-yard touchdown in overtime to another freshman, DeVonta Smith, to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Saban.
After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanstos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won the game for the Tide in the final seconds of regulation, Georgia took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.
Tagovailoa took a horrible sack on the first play, losing 16 yards. On the second play, he found Smith and hit him in stride for the national championship.
I do not know what happened in the Bulldogs locker room or maybe it was a result of the extended halftime but those players could not tackle in the second half. Tackling is an important part of football and in the biggest game of their college careers, they allowed Alabama to gain many yards after first contact. They also didn’t give running back Sony Michel the carries he should have had. He was the back squeezing through Alabama’s defense.
There also were some questionable calls in the second half that would have given Georgia a better chance to have this outcome the way they wanted it. The referee missed a clear facemask that would have allowed the Bulldogs to stay on the field longer in the fourth quarter. The questionable offsides call on the blocked punt was also a momentum taker.
Georgia would have gotten the a couple yards from field goal range, which would have allowed them to put more points on the board. The touchback interception was also a key moment because at that point in the game, Georgia had a two-possession lead. If the interception would have stood up like it should have, that negates the field goal that Alabama ultimately made on that drive.
Without those points they would not have enough time to complete the comeback. That is the emotional rollercoaster football games send you through.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.