NCAA FB

Georgia annihilates TCU to win 2nd consecutive CFP National Championship game

Jan 9, 2023, 9:21 PM | Updated: 9:48 pm
Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs raises the College Football Playoff National Championsh...
Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs raises the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at SoFi Stadium on January 09, 2023 in Inglewood, California. Georgia defeated TCU 65-7. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Stetson Bennett threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores in the first half as No. 1 Georgia demolished No. 3 TCU 65-7 Monday night to become the first team to win consecutive College Football Playoff national championships.

The Bulldogs (15-0) are the first repeat champs since Alabama went back-to-back a decade ago, and they left no doubt that they have replaced the Crimson Tide as the new bullies on the block.

“We wanted our kids to play without fear,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “All year I told them, I said, ‘We ain’t getting hunted guys, we’re doing the hunting, and hunting season’s almost over. We’ve only got one more chance to hunt,’ and we hunted tonight.”

TCU (13-2), the first Cinderella team of the playoff era, never had a chance against the Georgia juggernaut. Unlike Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal, the Bulldogs would not succumb to the Hypnotoads’ spell.

Georgia turned in one of the all-time beatdowns in a game that decided a national title, reminiscent of Nebraska running over Florida by 38 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, USC’s 36-point rout of Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl and Alabama’s 28-point BCS championship blowout over Notre Dame in 2013.

But this was worse.

Too much talent. Too well-coached. Two straight titles for the ’Dawgs.

No team has ever scored more points in a national championship game, dating to the beginning of the BCS in 1998.

With 13:25 left in the fourth quarter, Smart called timeout in the middle of an offensive drive so Bennett could exit to hero’s ovation in the final game of his circuitous college career.

“That was special,” said Bennett, who finished 18 for 25 for 304 yards and four touchdown passes. “I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”

Georgia offensive linemen were snacking on chicken wings on the sideline as the game wound down. Then, for the second straight year, the Bulldogs were showered by confetti and presented a championship trophy.

Smart is now 81-15 in his first seven seasons at Georgia with two national titles. His mentor, Alabama coach Nick Saban, was 79-15 with three titles in his first seven seasons with the Tide.

The Bulldogs were a different kind of dominant this season: not quite as stingy on defense, but more explosive on offense.

Earlier in Smart’s tenure at his alma mater, Georgia fans worried about whether the former defensive coordinator for Saban would be able to build an offense to match this high-scoring era of college football.

Under third-year coordinator Todd Monken, the Bulldogs have become prolific, creative and diverse offensively. They picked apart TCU’s 3-3-5 defense from all angles.

Versatile tight end Brock Bowers had seven catches for 152 yards. Receiver Ladd McConkey caught two TDs. Georgia ran for 254 yards with seven players gaining at least 10.

The Bulldogs scored all six times they touched the ball in the first half. Twice Bennett ran it in himself; the former walk-on turned two-time national champion was barely touched on the two quarterback keepers.

He hit a wide-open McConkey for a 34-yard score in the first quarter, a perfectly executed play out of a bunched formation that had TCU’s defensive backs in disarray. Bennett’s 22-yard score to Adonai Mitchell was a higher degree of difficulty, dropped in over a defender who had tight coverage.

It looked a lot like the Bennett-to-Mitchell touchdown that gave Georgia a fourth-quarter lead it would not relinquish against Alabama in last year’s CFP title game.

Georgia vanquished the Tide to break a 41-year national title drought last season, avenging its only regular-season loss in the process.

There was no such drama against the upstart Horned Frogs.

This year the Bulldogs never had to worry about Alabama. They rolled through the SEC, survived Ohio State in a classic CFP semifinal and then emphatically stamped themselves as a burgeoning dynasty with a perfect season.

Bennett hit Bowers for a 22-yard score with 10:52 left in the third quarter to make it 45-7. The sophomore from Northern California signaled touchdown while lying on the turf at Sofi Stadium. Bennett flashed a wide grin as he tapped helmets with one of his linemen.

Georgia’s famous bulldog mascot UGA could not make cross-country trip to root on his team, but it still felt a little like Sanford Stadium in SoCal.

Many of the TCU fans cleared out with more than half the fourth quarter left, choosing to venture out into a rainy and chilly night rather than watch any more of the massive mismatch.

Heisman Trophy runner-up Max Duggan threw two first-half interceptions in the final game of his roller-coaster TCU career.

A four-year starter who never played in a bowl before this season, Duggan led TCU on one of the most improbable runs in college football history.

Unranked after a losing 2021 season and picked seventh in the Big 12 for Sonny Dykes’ first year as coach, the Frogs won nine games by 10 or fewer points. They were within a victory of the program’s first national title since 1938.

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) is hit by TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) leaps over TCU safety Millard Bradford (28) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) makes a touchdown catch against TCU safety Abraham Camara (14) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) makes a touchdown catch against TCU safety Abraham Camara (14) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) makes a touchdown catch against TCU safety Abraham Camara (14) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) makes a touchdown catch against TCU safety Abraham Camara (14) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) celebrates his touchdown with his teammates against TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia defensive lineman Bear Alexander (99) hits TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) runs against TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Georgia tight end Brock Bowers (19) celebrates his touchdown with Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game against TCU, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (0) is tripped up by TCU safety Abraham Camara (14) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) makes a touchdown catch against TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) celebrates his touchdown against TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) celebrates his touchdown against TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) prepares to make a touchdown catch against TCU safety Millard Bradford (28) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) TCU wide receiver Derius Davis (11) misses the pass against Georgia during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) runs away from Georgia linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson (10) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) runs out of the pocket against Georgia linebacker Robert Beal Jr. (33) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) runs out of the pocket against Georgia linebacker Robert Beal Jr. (33) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Lights on cell phones are displayed during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game between Georgia and TCU, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Georgia defensive back Kelee Ringo (5) reacts during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game against TCU, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) A fan looks at a phone during a watch party for the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game between TCU and Georgia in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe) Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) passes in the pocket against TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) passes in the pocket against TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) A fan watches the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game between TCU and Georgia during a watch party in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe) A fan puts their hands to their face while watching the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game between TCU and Georgia in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe) Georgia running back Branson Robinson (22) falls into the end zone against TCU safety Mark Perry (3) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Georgia running back Branson Robinson (22) falls into the end zone against TCU safety Mark Perry (3) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) A fan carries a stuffed horned frog as they depart a watch party for the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game between TCU and Georgia in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe) A fan reacts to a play during a watch party for the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game between TCU and Georgia in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Emil T. Lippe) Georgia fans cheer during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game between Georgia and TCU, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis) Georgia linebacker Jalon Walker (11) celebrates his sacking of TCU quarterback Max Duggan during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith (23) sacks TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia linebacker Jalon Walker (11) sacks TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is doused during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game against TCU, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia won 65-7. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia head coach Kirby Smart celebratyes a win over TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia won 65-7. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is doused during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game against TCU, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia won 65-7. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Georgia head coach Kirby Smart celebratyes a win over TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia won 65-7. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Georgia head coach Kirby Smart celebratyes a win over TCU during the second half of the national championship NCAA College Football Playoff game, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia won 65-7. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs raises the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship game at SoFi Stadium on January 09, 2023 in Inglewood, California. Georgia defeated TCU 65-7. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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