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The defacto national title game

This is the best Alabama team ever, they said. That makes it the best college football team ever because Bama is the nation’s elite football school, they said. Tua is the latest incarnation of the greatest player ever, they said. Bama will hang 50 on Georgia, they said. Alabama did, indeed, defeat Georgia 35-28 in the SEC Championship Game Saturday afternoon in a game they led for exactly one minute and nine seconds. The Dawgs took it to the Tide for much of the game. The Dawgs came to play. The UGA coaching staff – or at least some of them – apparently stayed on the bus. Quarterback Jake Fromm was sizzling hot. He threw for 301 yards. He was carving up the Tide secondary yet Kirby Smart and company kept inserting freshman backup Justin Fields into the game for random plays. He did nothing. He hasn’t done much of anything all year and any analysts who ranked him higher coming out of high school than Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence must have studied under noted quarterback guru Ray Charles. Fields may win a lot of games in a Georgia uniform but he has a long, long way to go before he can be described as an elite college quarterback. Smart and Company seem to have a problem letting star players get in rhythm and stay there. They don’t let their horses get lathered up. Tailback D’Andre Swift rushed for 75 yards against the vaunted Tide defensive front yet had only three touches in the second half of the game. At that point, Georgia should have been pounding the ball. The patchwork Georgia offensive line, decimated by injuries, had largely neutralized Bama’s all-world nose guard Quinnen Williams and his mates but the coaches went away from the power run game. The Georgia defense played very well. They pounded on the great Tua who left the game after one of his own offensive linemen stepped on his ankle but he was limping badly by that point. Then the Georgia coaches got real cute and called a fake punt using the aforementioned Fields. It was a disaster. In fact, none of the staff’s fakes all year have worked as I recall. They should have punted the ball deep and trusted the defense. They will learn, I hope. Smart has cursed and cajoled this program out of its Richt-induced malaise and taken it to the very upper echelons of college football. He built a smash mouth team and installed in his charges a smash mouth attitude. They talk about physicality yet they insist on getting cute and, when he and his staff get cute, they lose. This is a very young Georgia team – the youngest in the SEC. It just stood toe-to-toe with mighty Bama in what was, in my opinion, the defacto national title game. The Tide will now roll through the playoffs. Georgia will play Texas in the Sugar Bowl where so many great Bulldog memories have been made. They will rout the Longhorns and add to those memories. In the meantime, the early signing period for recruits looms. Georgia will likely land another top three class. Smart and his assistants need to load up on young talent, put that talent on the field and let them play. And, forget the fakes! Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald-Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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