INDIANAPOLIS — Taking place in the wintry wilderness that is Big Ten Country: early on, the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship looked to be a low-scoring, classic Big Ten affair. Neither Georgia or Alabama scored a touchdown in the first half.
Much to the joy of the SEC faithful and college football fans: both teams' offenses found themselves just in-time to make this year's championship game a thriller. And much to the joy of many fans here locally: it was the Georgia Bulldogs that got the last laugh.
Former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett avenged his two previous career losses to Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns as third-seeded Georgia took down the reigning national champions, 33-18. For Bennett's head coach Kirby Smart, it is his first win in five tries against his old boss, Saban. It is Georgia's first national championship since 1980.
Trailing 9-6 at the half, the Dawgs finally found the end-zone in the waning minutes of the third quarter, as Zamir White scored from one-yard out to give Georgia a 13-9 lead. The Tide responded with their fourth field goal to cut the lead to one. It looked like Bennett's day might be over when he fumbled deep in Georgia territory to set up the Tide's first touchdown of the game, as they went up 18-13.
That's when Bennett kicked things into over-drive.
He completed every pass he threw the rest of the game. He fired a 40-yard touchdown to Adonai Mitchell that proved to be the go-ahead score. On the next drive, Bennett hit Brock Bowers for the exclamation mark, 15-yard touchdown, as Georgia went up 26-18.
Bennett's now-legendary defense took over from there. They stopped Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young in his tracks, limiting him to just one touchdown and picking him off twice. Brian Robinson and the Tide run-game were held to just 48 yards. Keelee Ringo sealed the victory with a 79-yard pick-six.
End result: Georgia's first national championship since 1980. The drought is over.
Final score: Georgia 33, Alabama 18. A far cry from a 9-6 halftime score.
It was worth the wait.