My God, we did it.
The dream has come true.
The University of Georgia Bulldogs are the 2021 national champions of college football.
On January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, Georgia defeated defending national champion Alabama 33-18 to secure the Bulldogs’ first national title since 1980. So close, so many times. There was Pitt, Penn State, thrice Alabama, and of course heartbreakers to old rivals that stood in the way.
Alabama though has been the most notable nemesis. The Crimson Tide beat Georgia 26-23 in the National Championship Game on 1/8/18 in overtime, leading after but one play. The last one. Bama came back to beat Georgia in the 2012 SEC Championship Game, then throttled Notre Dame for the big prize. That could’ve been Georgia. In 2018, Bama came back and beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, costing the Bulldogs a playoff berth. The Bulldogs had double-digit second-half leads in all three heart-piercing losses.
The Bulldogs of 2021 were downright dominant, posting a perfect 12-0 regular season, with 11 of those victories coming by at least 17 points.
Georgia was No. 1 in the national polls for most of the season.
But in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide again prevailed, dominating the Dogs 41-24. That extended their winning streak against Georgia to seven games. Georgia was bloodied and beaten.
But not dead.
A playoff berth still came Georgia’s way, and there were questions on how the Bulldogs would react? Kirby Smart’s Dogs came out roaring against Big Ten champion Michigan in the Orange Bowl semifinal, pounding the Wolverines 34-11 in Miami. Earlier that New Year’s Eve Day, Alabama beat Cincinnati 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl semifinal.
The rematch was set. Georgia and Alabama. For the national championship.
And with one mighty sword, the Georgia Bulldogs slew two dragons.
Georgia has finally reached the mountaintop of college football.
This national championship means so much to so many people. It’s a Georgia Bulldogs version of one of the original British Bulldog Sir Winston Churchill’s most famous speeches.
Losses truly unify a fan base. Bandwagoners be gone. The hurt from the heartbreak, it brings the die-hards together. The dark days, the lost seasons, the investment, the hurt.
“He who has health, has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” – Sir Thomas Carlyle in his masterpiece Sartor Resartus.
There was hope all season long. Hope that this could be the year. It started in Charlotte, North Carolina when Christopher Smith’s 74-yard interception return for a touchdown made the difference in a 10-3 victory over Clemson. It would be the front side, what a nice twist, of magnificent bookend pick-sixes.
Clemson won the national championship in both 2016 and 2018. The Tigers both times in the title game beat Alabama, a six-time national champion under Nick Saban’s watch between 2009 and 2020.
Prior to the season, it could be argued that the Clemson game was the least important on the schedule. Lose to the Tigers, run the table, make the playoffs, maybe even win a rematch with Clemson.
As it turned out, the Clemson game was the most important. Of the regular season.
Georgia gained an immense amount of confidence. Let’s face it, if you can beat Clemson, you can beat Alabama. And everyone in between. The victory also vaulted Georgia to No. 2 in the national polls.
Over the next 11 games, Georgia scored at least 30 points in every one of them, while holding the opposition to 17 or fewer points each time out. In those 11 games, culminating with a 45-0 triumph over Tech in Atlanta, the Bulldogs won by at least 17 points.
Though it would have been nice to have won a Southeastern Conference title, in this playoff era of college football, what happened in Atlanta proved to be positive. Georgia was re-centered, re-grounded, and re-focused.
In just under four weeks, 27 days to be exact, in one of the most important games in the history of the program, the Bulldogs played maybe their best half in a game of that magnitude ever. Georgia led Big Ten champion Michigan, which has more wins than any team in the history of college football, 27-3 at halftime of the Orange Bowl in the second College Football Playoff semifinal. The Bulldogs, picked against by most in the national media, were hungry and dominant in the 34-11 victory over the Wolverines.
Thank all that is good in the Universe the national championship game wasn’t in Atlanta or New Orleans. Too much heartbreak, too many tears in those Southern domed stadiums.
Lucas Oil Stadium, right there with Sanford Stadium for the Bulldog faithful as a hieroglyphic expression of the divine.
There were times in Indianapolis that the Bulldogs were hanging by a thread. But hang in there Georgia did.
Survive. Then thrive.
The Bulldogs scored the final 20 points of the game, with a trio of touchdowns giving Georgia the lead, then control and finally victory.
Following Kelee Ringo’s iconic interception return for a touchdown, there were 54 seconds and three Alabama timeouts to weather, but the game and national championship belonged to the Georgia Bulldogs.
Euphoria, joy, relief.
They shared tears of ecstatic disbelief.
It’s finally happened.
The Dawgs did it … Georgia is No. 1!