The team that wasn’t supposed to be there just collected its fifth national title in nine years.
Alabama beat Georgia 26-23 in overtime on Monday night in Atlanta, sticking the second dagger in that city’s heart in 11 months. Last February, the Atlanta Falcons let a 28-3 lead slip away and lost 34-28 in overtime to the New England Patriots. In this one, the Crimson Tide overcame deficits of 13-0 and 20-7 as coach Nick Saban collected his sixth national championship, tying him with Bear Bryant for the modern record (dating to 1936). Saban also won one at Louisiana State.
The Tide overcame a pair of missed field goals and won with backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa coming in after halftime for an ineffective Jalen Hurts. Imagine, replacing a QB who had thrown one interception the entire season. But Saban did and Tagovailoa delivered three touchdowns, including a 41-yard strike on the final play to Devonta Smith.
More pain for Georgia. Smith was originally headed to Georgia, but the change of coaches from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart two years ago flipped him to Bama. And Tagovailoa’s bullet to Smith came after a 16-yard sack that seemed to have put the Tide out of field goal range.
Alabama was considered a questionable pick for the College Football Playoff’s four-team bracket, having failed to win its division in the Southeastern Conference and therefore not even eligible for the conference championship game. Perhaps it is unwise to ever question Bama’s invitation to anything.
A year ago, Alabama lost the national title to Clemson on the final play of the game. On this night, the final play and the championship belonged to the Crimson Tide.
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