Georgia’s dream season has reached its final destination, the National Championship Game, and awaiting is the college football kingpin of the last decade, fellow Southeastern Conference foe Alabama.
With the spirits of the Bulldog faithful soaring through an incredible campaign that featured routs of Tennessee, Florida and Tech and a Southeastern Conference Championship Game triumph over Auburn, which handed Georgia its lone loss of the season – the holidays would deliver even more.
For starters, with the first early signing period for recruiting, Georgia has assimilated a class that ranks number one nationally thus far, giving further optimism that this first playoff trip under Kirby Smart’s watch won’t be the Bulldogs last. Then on New Year’s Day, Georgia punched its ticket to Monday night’s Atlanta showdown at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium with an incredible 54-48 double-overtime victory over Oklahoma at the Rose Bowl – the Dogs biggest win since defeating Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl to clinch the 1980 national championship.
Alabama is in familiar territory.
This is a third straight trip to the title tilt for the Tide. Bama beat Clemson to win the 2015 championship, the fourth of the Nick Saban era, then lost to the Tigers for the championship last year. This season, Bama and Clemson met again, with the Crimson Tide beating the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl 24-6 to advance to Atlanta. It was a dominating defensive performance, and Saban certainly used as motivation the criticism of Alabama’s playoff selection after an Iron Bowl loss to archrival Auburn kept the Tide out o the SEC Championship Game.
Smart trained under Saban, serving as defensive coordinator for four Alabama national crowns. He was a big part of Bama becoming the college football standard of excellence this decade.
Now Smart is driving Georgia to the mountaintop, trying to vanquish mighty Bama and become the first Saban disciple to lead his team to a victory over his old boss’s Crimson Tide, while trying to deliver to the Bulldog faithful a national championship everyone is so hungry for.
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