What a year!
Unexpected (by me, at least) blowout wins bookended the 2022 season/postseason. Between lie, a blowout of South Carolina, a hard-nosed Kent State squad, and Missouri was also a hard out. The Dawgs brought the Vols back to earth, followed by wins in artic conditions and against stiff competition at Mississippi State and Kentucky.
I was surprised by Ohio State’s outstanding performance in the Peach. But when one thinks of that game, the enduring memory has to be the field goal attempt to end it.
Bennett-to-Mitchell beats the defender toward the corner of the end zone to give the Dawgs the lead after Podlesny’s PAT. Ohio State moved the ball to the Georgia 40, and the ref placed it about one-half yard inside the left hash. Only eight seconds were on the clock as the Buckeye kicker moved forward.
From about 73 yards behind the ball, I focused on Darris Smith, Georgia’s other number 19. From Baxley, he is a true-freshman outside linebacker who mainly played on special teams. Darris, Georgia’s designated field goal blocker, is 6-5, 225-pound and has excellent leaping ability.
The ball zips to the holder, I press and hold the shutter release, and a split second later, the roar explodes. I thought Mr. Smith had just achieved a moment of lifetime fame; instead, a duck hook field goal propelled the Dawgs to LA and the showdown with up-start TCU.
The national championship game and the environs were just weird. First was the weather, indistinguishable from a dreary winter day in North Georgia. Then there was a stadium designed to take advantage of the beautiful SoCal environment featuring a sail rather than a roof. However, a sail is marginally effective when a North Georgia winter storm visits.
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The game’s weirdness is all about the destruction of an opponent in a national title game. TCU is a better football team than the score of the championship game indicates, and they are the type of team that often gives UGA fits. The Frogs’ early score indicated a close game was in store. NOT!
The outcome was not so much a function of TCU’s inability as it was the combination of Georgia putting all aspects of its game together. Of course, UGA also possessed a marked advantage in talent, and that talent was hitting on all cylinders. The Dawgs led 24-7 with more than eight minutes left in the half before extending the lead to 38-7 at the horn. They had defeated TCU’s defense and shut down their vaunted offense. Game faces began to dissolve into smiles. The ‘Toads were toast, and both teams knew it.
At this time last year, pundits declared that Georgia and Kirby could not contend with some many experienced players leaving for the NFL. We’ll see!
Kirby 2, Pundits 0