What a game, what a CFP, what a season. The Alabama Crimson Tide are your 2017-2018 college football National Champions and have done it in style, winning the championship in OT with one of the nicest passes you will ever see in your life. This is Alabama’s second national championship in the CFP era, head coach Nick Saban’s 6th national title and the programs 17th total championship. Because Alabama is such a dynasty, every team in the entire country is going to look to take down the Tide and that has been evident all season and especially in this game.
In the way of Alabama and that national championship was a familiar foe who was young, talented and hungry, the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia had been coming off a Rose Bowl win that will go down as one of the greatest football games of all time so you can see that they were riding all sorts of momentum. They were also essentially playing in front of their home fans as the game was being held in Atlanta. Although this had a feel of a SEC championship game, the hype was still there, the stage was set and Atlanta was ready to go.
The game started with a quick turnover by the Alabama defense who had been so stout all season which had led to production from the Tide offense. After Alabama drove the ball down the field, they were set to attempt a field goal and get the first points of the night on the board. However, Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed from 40 yards out to keep the game scoreless. Now keep this miss in the back pocket because it will come of importance later on in this article and that is a guarantee. The defense remained stout on both sides until early in the second quarter, when Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who has been so consistent all season, drilled a 41 yard field goal to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. Blankenship would add another FG nearly 7 minutes later to give his team a 6-0 advantage. Now the defense for Georgia in the first half was nothing short of spectacular. After getting torn apart by Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma’s offense in the Rose Bowl, Georgia showed the country that they still had it and that they were still one of the best defenses in the country. Georgia had the ball to end the half and with just 12 seconds to go in the half, Georgia WR Mecole Hardman rushed for a yard into the end zone to give Georgia a 13-0 lead going into the break.
The story of the first half was the dominance from the Bulldog defense and the horrendous play from Alabama’s QB, Jalen Hurts. Coach Nick Saban knew he needed to make a change to give his team a chance to win the game and he would make one of the ballsiest decisions in the history of college football. Saban decided to start his freshman QB, Tua Tagovailoa, who had not played a meaningful snap all year or for the matter a snap in the history of his young career and Saban decided to start him in the second half of the national championship game. Tagovailoa looked confident early and it had seemed like this was not this young man’s first rodeo, even though it was. With 8 minutes left in the third quarter, Tagovailoa delivered a 6 yd strike to Alabama WR, Henry Ruggs III to get the Crimson Tide on the board. The score was now 13-7 in favor of the Bulldogs and we had a ballgame on our hands. This score could not have been possible however if it was not for an incredible third down run by Tua that kept the drive alive and in a way showed everyone that he was here to compete and was not going to be afraid of the moment.
The Bulldogs needed a response as you could start to sense the momentum shifting in the Tide’s favor and who else to turn to then their true freshman QB who has stepped up for them all season long, Jake Fromm. Fromm delivered an 80 yard strike to Mecole Hardman for a TD that put Georgia back up by two scores and gave the momentum back to the Bulldogs.
Alabama added two field goals to get within 7 and we were heading down the stretch with a nail bitter on our hands. The freshman from Hawaii who literally put on one of the most remarkable performances given the scenario in college football history, delivered once more. He led his Tide team down the field and with 3 minutes to go Alabama star WR Calvin Ridley, who had been quiet the entire night caught a 7 Yd TD pass from the freshman sensation and just like that we were tied at 20. The freshman had led his team all the way back from being 13 down and was now only a stop and score away from winning the National Championship.
Alabama’s defense who had been huge the entire second half by creating turnovers that led to points, stopped Georgia once again and now had a chance to win it. Tagovailoa once again constructed an amazing drive and with only 3 seconds to go, Andy Pappanastos set up for a 36 Yd FG. If he made it, the Alabama Crimson Tide were National Championships and have completed the comeback. If he missed, Georgia had new life and this thing was heading to OT. No way this guy could miss right? It’s too makable of a kick. Wrong! Pappanastos hooked it WIDE left and this thing was heading to OT. Atlanta was in a state of shock and you could almost feel the disbelief through the TV.
After Alabama won the coin toss and deferred to go on defense first, it was time for Georgia’s offense to go to work. They failed to do so however, as the Alabama defense began to take over the game. The Bulldogs had to settle for a FG to go ahead 23-20 and now it was Alabama’s turn. If they put the ball in the end zone, they were going to be National Champions, it was simple. On the first play of Alabama’s turn with the ball, Tagovailoa made his first freshman mistake of the night. He took a huge sack when he should have just thrown the ball and now Alabama was faced with a tough 2nd and 26 and in a way was out of field goal range. Then it happened. Tagovailoa delivered one of the prettiest balls I have ever seen in my entire life to win the National Championship. He delivered a 41 Yd DIME to freshman WR DeVonta Smith for a TD and the Crimson Tide had done it.
They had completed the comeback, they are champions of the world and it is all thanks to an unknown hero from Hawaii. Tagovailoa finished with 166 passing yards to go along with 3 TDs and made Nick Saban’s job a whole lot harder come next season.
This game will go down as a classic but also is a very sad occurrence. It is a sad occurrence because it concludes the college football season. This year I have followed college football like I never have before. I watched week in and week out in great detail and then at the end of each week, I wrote a recap. Every week all season, did not miss one. I found a love I truly have for this sport and I am so blessed that I was able to cover it for you guys this year. I cannot wait to bring you guys more content come next season and who knows maybe we’ll be talking about Tua Tagovailoa for the Heisman.