INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Georgia bookended the 2022 season with dominance.
The No. 1 Bulldogs crushed No. 3 TCU, 65-7, to win their second national title in as many seasons on Monday night at SoFi Stadium. Georgia is the first team since Alabama in 2011 and 2012 to win back-to-back national titles and the first team in the College Football Playoff era to accomplish the feat.
It didn’t take long for Georgia to make it clear that TCU’s chances of winning the game were very slim. After TCU cut the lead to 10-7 in the first quarter, the Bulldogs reeled off 24 straight points to end the first half thanks to a couple of Javon Bullard interceptions before he had to leave the game with a left shoulder injury.
The Bulldogs scored a TD with 1:09 to go in the second quarter to go up 31-7 after Bullard intercepted Max Duggan on a wildly overthrown deep pass to Quentin Johnston. Bullard then picked off Duggan on a third and long deep in Georgia territory with 36 seconds to go before the half. AD Mitchell made a fantastic contested catch two plays later for a 38-7 halftime lead.
Georgia’s 58-point win is the biggest margin of victory in any national championship game dating back to the start of the BCS era in 1998, eclipsing USC’s 55-19 win over Oklahoma in January of 2005.
Stetson Bennett’s great game
After leading Georgia to a comeback win in the second half against Ohio State in the Peach Bowl a week ago, Stetson Bennett capped off his college career with a phenomenal title game performance. Bennett became the third QB to rush for multiple TDs in either a BCS or CFP national title game and also threw for 304 yards and four scores.
Bennett is also just the third starting quarterback to win consecutive national titles. A.J. McCarron was the starter for both of Alabama’s titles a decade ago and Nebraska’s Tommie Frazier was the team’s starter for both the 1994 and 1995 national title games.
The former walk-on displayed why he was a Heisman finalist and one of the top starting quarterbacks in the country on Monday night. He made several exceptional throws — including a third down pass he zipped around three TCU defenders over the middle in the first half — and was in absolute command of an offense that flummoxed the TCU defense.
Georgia averaged more than nine yards a play in the first half as both Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey made big plays at receiver. Bowers had over 100 yards receiving in the first half on the way to a 152-yard day that included a great leaping catch on a perfect back-shoulder TD pass from Bennett early in the third quarter.
TCU’s very bad day
The Horned Frogs gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Derius Davis caught a 60-yard pass from Duggan to set up Duggan’s first-quarter TD run to cut Georgia’s lead to seven.
But that was unfortunately the high point for the Horned Frogs. In the first minute of the second quarter, TCU found itself with a fourth-and-6 at the Georgia 47-yard line and trailing 17-7. TCU coach Sonny Dykes sent out the punt team instead of going for it in plus territory.
Georgia then went 92 plays in 11 yards as Bennett capped the drive with his second rushing score of the game.
Duggan also had his worst game of the season on Monday night. It was clear from the start of the game that Georgia didn’t want Duggan to get any yardage on the ground and instead try to pick apart the Bulldogs through the air.
And that gameplan worked perfectly. Georgia didn’t let Duggan escape the pocket like C.J. Stroud did in the Peach Bowl and the defensive line got pressure when there wasn’t anything open in the secondary.
Georgia was No. 1 most of the season
Georgia opened the season emphatically with a 49-3 win over Oregon in Week 1. That game looked a lot like the national title game too. The Bulldogs had a 28-3 halftime lead in that one before scoring 14 points in the third quarter to give Oregon no shot of coming back.
While Georgia started the season at No. 3 in the AP poll, that victory made it clear the Bulldogs were the best team in the country. Georgia moved up to No. 1 after Week 2 and stayed there the rest of the season while also sitting atop the final five sets of playoff rankings.
The talent up and down the Georgia roster allowed the Bulldogs to play much of the season on cruise control. Sure, there was a test at Missouri, but it was clear over the second half of that game that Georgia’s better players would win out despite the narrow 26-22 result.
After that, Georgia won every other game before the playoff by 10 points or more, including a 14-point win over Tennessee and a 10-point win over Kentucky that were a lot more lopsided than the scores indicated.