Why you shouldn’t bet against a Georgia hat-trick next year

Why you shouldn’t bet against a Georgia hat-trick next year

Why you shouldn’t bet against a Georgia hat-trick next year

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The night Georgia embarrassed Michigan in a college football playoff semifinal that ended shortly after it started, the Wolverines coach known for his inscrutable pride waved the white flag even before the third quarter had expired. That’s when Jim Harbaugh pulled starting quarterback Cade McNamara to save him from a hellish defense filled with eight NFL draft picks that destroyed the offensive game plan.

On the night Georgia snuffed out TCU in a national championship that turned into a 65-7 massacre, the Horned Frogs coach, known for his spunky, gun-throwing, and wind-cautious character, lifted his sign of surrender even earlier, with a quarter and a half remaining. That’s when Sonny Dykes returned the ball close to midfield despite being 38 points down on the scoreboard and with nothing to lose in a game when his gifted braves came on as two-man underdogs affected.

The first was a dominating victory over a team that has led the Big Ten for the past two seasons, a resurgent blue blood that returned to the national spotlight by beating Ohio State twice en route to titles. consecutive conferences.

The latter was a schoolyard beat of the best the Big 12 can offer at a time when traditional powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas are treading water ahead of high-profile moves to the Southeastern Conference. Toss in a CFP semi-final against the Buckeyes and an abuse of Alabama winning the national championship last year and the Bulldogs have little to prove with 29 wins in their last 30 games.

“It seems like for three or four months we’ve been looking to see if somebody can beat us,” Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said, “and we ran out of games. Nobody could.”

Georgia Bulldogs DOMINATE TCU in National Championship

Georgia Bulldogs DOMINATE TCU in National Championship

It’s a story that likely won’t change anytime soon, given the breadth of talent that will return to Georgia next season. The Bulldogs have already opened up as favorites to win their third straight title, per FOX Bet.

The list begins with Brock Bowers, the sophomore tight end who would be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft if only the rules allowed him in. He caught seven passes for 152 yards and a touchdown Monday night, while tormenting the Horned Frogs from the slot, from line positions, from anywhere offensive coordinator Todd Monken chose to deploy him.

Bowers rumbled and rolled through tackle attempts to amass 58 yards after contact just as easily as he passed safety Abe Camara for an acrobatic 14-yard score to start the third quarter. There was a moment in the second half where he passed TCU on his own – 152 receiving yards for Bowers; 126 total yards for the Horned Frogs — and describing it as college football’s most dangerous weapon barely does Bowers justice.

And he is not alone.

The most terrifying aspect of Georgia’s cakewalk to a second straight national title is how many underclassmen played a starring role in the dynastic demon Smart built.

Sophomore defensive back Javon Bullard was named Defensive Player of the Game after picking up two interceptions and recovering a fumble that led to 17 points behind on turnovers. Sophomore wide receiver Adonai Mitchell had a jaw-dropping one-handed catch on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Bennett in which he snatched the ball from a defender. Sophomore linebacker Smael Mondon Jr. led the Bulldogs in tackles with five. True freshman nose tackle Bear Alexander had two tackles for loss, one of which was a sack. None of the starting offensive linemen are senior.

“The biggest challenge is the same as in the world we live in today, the society we live in: the law,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “As soon as you think you have the right to win games and you don’t have to work hard – the uphill battle for these (returning) guys is you think you inherit success. And I personally think that next year is going to be a much tougher challenge this year because we had so many guys leaving last year we have a lot of guys coming back.

Is Georgia the next college football dynasty?

Is Georgia the next college football dynasty?

True, Smart’s program will be bidding farewell to a handful of prominent upper class men headlined by Bennett, who completed 18 of 25 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns before finally exhausting his eligibility. At 25 years. Washington, tailback Kenny McIntosh, defensive lineman Jalen Carter and cornerback Kelee Ringo, among others, at least two of whom are expected to be first-round picks.

But behind the scenes, another elite recruiting class is ranked second nationally behind Alabama in the 247Sports Composite. Smart’s incoming freshmen include two five-star prospects in rusher Damon Wilson (No. 13 overall) and cornerback AJ Harris (No. 32 overall), as well as 22 four-star prospects, all of whom are among the top 300 recruits. The five highest rated signers are on the defensive side of the ball to replenish a closet that has been overflowing for years. And one of those players — inside linebacker Raylen Wilson, the nation’s 52nd-ranked prospect — returned to Georgia after initially committing to Michigan.

“Obviously they have some really good players,” TCU QB Max Duggan said. “I bet they’re in the top 10 scouts every year. And then they develop them, and they have a really good coaching staff. So that’s a good recipe for success, and that’s why they have so well done.” the last two years. And now when you come out of a game like that, you know what you need to improve on if you want to be on that stage again, if you want to compete with guys like Georgia.

The only thing Georgia’s recruiting lacks is a quarterback, though that could change by the February signing period. Smart has inked at least one caller in every recruiting class since taking over the program on Dec. 6, 2015, but there’s so much talent behind Bennett on the depth chart he might not care. not even.

Backup Carson Beck, a redshirt sophomore, was a four-star prospect and No. 9 quarterback for the Class of 2020. Third stringer Brock Vandagriff, a redshirt freshman, was a prospect five stars and the No. 4 quarterback in the class. of 2021. Fourth stringer Gunner Stockton, a true freshman, was a four-star prospect and the No. 7 quarterback for the Class of 2022.

Debates over who can emerge as Bennett’s heir will dominate talk radio heading into next season’s opener, but Georgia is far from the only elite program to have to replace a quarterback leading.

Alabama loses former Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young while Ohio State will likely forgo goodbye to Heisman Trophy runner-up CJ Stroud. Tennessee advances without Hendon Hooker, while UCLA watched Dorian Thompson-Robinson resume his swan song. There are high profile returnees at USC (Caleb Williams), Michigan (JJ McCarthy), Florida State (Jordan Travis), LSU (Jayden Daniels), Oregon (Bo Nix) and Washington (Michael Penix Jr.), but only one of those teams have made the playoffs in the past five years.

Georgia, Michigan and Colorado top RJ Young’s Top 25 Way-Too-Early

Georgia, Michigan and Colorado top RJ Young's Top 25 Way-Too-Early

“We have good quarterbacks in there,” Smart said. “We had one who took off a black jersey and took shots all week so he could be Max (Duggan on the scout team). And Gunner Stockton said, ‘Coach, take off my shirt, I’ll take the hits.’ And Brock Vandagriff is there to learn all year. Carson Beck has had a lot of playing time and has a lot of nerve to come back and be able to play. So these three guys are going to fight. And they’re going to learn a lot. “

So why can’t the Bulldogs come back at this point and claim a third consecutive national title? Why can’t they be the first team to triple since Minnesota did it in 1934, 1935 and 1936? Why can’t Smart get past Alabama head coach Nick Saban and do something his mentor has yet to achieve?

At this point, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against them.

Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with a focus on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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