Bennett, Georgia Bulldogs win second-straight National Championship

Reading Time: 3 minutes The Georgia Bulldogs have won their second-straight championship after a title drought since 1981.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The University of Georgia Bulldogs (15-0) rolled past the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (13-2) 65-7 in the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday, Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. 

In the final college football game of his career, UGA starting quarterback Stetson Bennett accounted for six total touchdowns (four passing, two rushing), tying the record set by Joe Burrow in the 2020 CFP Championship game. Bennett also went 18-25 for 304 yards in the air with a 99.5 quarterback rating and rushed three times for 39 yards. 

Sophomore tight end Brock Bowers, the primary target for Bennet, caught seven passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Ladd McConkey followed with five catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns while rushing once for 14 yards. The Bulldogs also displayed a balanced ground game, led by Kenny McIntosh, as they had six running backs rush for 30 or more yards. McIntosh rushed eight times for 50 yards while freshman Branson Robinson added seven more carries for 42 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Bulldogs’ defense sacked TCU quarterback Max Duggan five times and sophomore defensive back Javon Bullard picked Duggan off twice.

After a quick three-and-out by TCU to start the game, the Bulldogs marched their way to a 10-0 lead with 6:51 left in the first quarter. Duggan led the Horned Frogs on a touchdown drive to cut the deficit down to 10-7; however, the Bulldogs would score 28-straight unanswered points to end the first half with a 38-7 lead. 

TCU was able to force UGA to punt the ball to start the third quarter but the Horned Frogs’ offense was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. The Bulldogs then scored 27 more points to close out the game with a final score of 65-7, leaving no doubt that they were the best team in the country.

Going into the game, the Bulldogs were a 13-point favorite as the Horned Frogs weren’t expected to win. 

UGA, after winning the title last year, entered the season as the top-ranked team in the nation and started with a 49-3 win over the No. 11 Oregon Ducks. The Bulldogs had a few games where they weren’t as dominant, dropping them down a few rankings before picking things up to end the season and routing the LSU Tigers 50-30 in the South Eastern Conference Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia to go 13-0. 

The Bulldogs then faced the No. 4 The Ohio State Buckeyes in a showdown at the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bow at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. UGA trailed 38-24 after the first three quarters before going on an 18-3 run to take the lead 42-41 with 54 seconds left in regulation. The Buckeyes marched down the field with an opportunity for kicker Noah Ruggles to hit the game-winning field goal from 50 yards out. However, he missed, sending the Bulldogs to the Championship game.

TCU defied expectations heading into this year as they came into this season under first-year Head Coach Sonny Dykes expected to finish seventh in the Big 12 after a 5-7 finish to the 2021-22 season. However, the Horned Frogs, led by Duggan (who started the year as the backup), found a way to eke out some close wins over Big 12 foes to finish the regular season undefeated with a record of 12-0. However, TCU fell 31-28 in overtime to the No. 10 Kansas State Wildcats in the Big 12 Championship game. 

The Horned Frogs still earned a berth in the CFP Semifinal at the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona where they faced the No. 2 University of Michigan Wolverines. TCU, using a pick-six, a pair of offensive touchdowns, and some big stops, went up 21-6 over the 7-point favored Wolverines after the first half. TCU then was able to stay ahead and have their defense hold on to survive a second-half rally from the Wolverines to win 51-45 and send themselves the CFP Championship. 

UGA will enter the 2023-24 season looking to become the first team in the Associated Press Poll and CFP era to win three-straight titles. TCU, on the other hand, will look to capitalize on a strong transfer portal and recruiting class to make another run back to the CFP.