Kirby Smart: The New King of College Football

Alabama, you have been dethroned. There is a new king of college football. I don’t care how great Bama’s recruiting classes are, I don’t care how many great players they yank from the portal.

Georgia is the apex predator of college football now. The two teams that beat Bama this year, Georgia thumped them both.

I started this post right after the semifinal games. I was like 98% certain Georgia would win this game. Before the semis I said the Georgia-Ohio State game was the real National Championship. That proved to be true.

But I did not see 65-7 coming. I thought it would be like 45-20 Georgia or something like that. I figured Georgia would be up 10-14 for most of the game and then pull away in the 4th quarter. But this was an all-time ass-whooping.

Just look at that:

32 first downs to 9.

589 yards to 188.

254 rushing yards to 36.

37 minutes possession to 23.

It was about as big of a beatdown as I’ve seen in any big game, much less a National Championship. There was one point in the first quarter where TCU scored their only points of the game to make it 10-7 Georgia, and I thought we might just have a game on our hands here. But we were all quickly disabused of that fanciful idea. By halftime it was 38-7.

We shouldn’t take anything away from TCU here. They won a damn playoff game. That’s more than a hell of a lot of schools can say–most notably their Big 12 rivals Oklahoma and Texas, who are about to get a taste of what TCU got tonight once they move to the SEC in a few years.

TCU has nothing to be ashamed of. They were picked to finish like dead last in the Big 12 by the media before the season. They were just outmatched. Right when the playoff teams were announced, I went into the recruiting numbers of the four semifinalists. Georgia has 68 combined 5 and 4 star recruits on their roster.

TCU has 17.

The talent mismatch was so lopsided it wasn’t even fair. Georgia has QUADRUPLE the 5 and 4 star talent that TCU has.

17 x 4 = 68.

The 65-7 massacre we saw is what happens when an elite SEC team like Georgia plays its best game against a team that it has 4x as many big time players as, and doesn’t let off the gas.

This game reminded me a lot of the Georgia-Oregon game in week 1. Georgia won it 49-3, just dominated Oregon in every possible way. But they scored their last touchdown on the first play of the 4th quarter and then called off the dogs. If they kept their foot on the gas in that game, they could’ve won 63-3 or even 70-3–if they really wanted to.

That’s the thing about a lot of these blowouts: most of them could be a lot worse if the better team doesn’t let up off the gas.

Georgia was not going to let up in this game. It’s the National Championship, you let your boys run wild. Some of those boys are playing their last game of college football ever. Georgia put their backups in early in the 4th quarter and they were still scoring at will. Plus, you want to run the score up for the history books. Put an exclamation mark on it.

Was the moment too big for TCU? Yeah, clearly. You could tell early on that they were just overwhelmed. The combination of the big stage, and the fact that TCU simply has not seen players like Georgia has. TCU has played Texas and Oklahoma, and those two programs have talent, but not like Georgia has.

TCU was playing in the Mountain West conference as recently as 2011. We shouldn’t lose sight of that. For them to make it all the way to the National Championship game barely a decade after moving up to the Power Five level, that’s pretty incredible.

I kind of wish it had been Michigan getting run off the field like this instead of TCU, because maybe just maybe an ass-kicking like this would disabuse these arrogant Michigan people of the crazy idea that they’re an elite program, but seeing them lose in the semifinals was amazing either way.

I have to give a ton of credit to Kirby Smart. This year’s Georgia team was not as talented as last year’s. It couldn’t possibly be. They lost so, so many players to the NFL that they couldn’t possibly be as good as they were last year.

Georgia sent a incredible 15 players to the 2022 NFL draft.

15.

You only have 22 starting positions on a team.

They had 5 guys go in the first round including the #1 overall pick, Travon Walker.

Let’s just go over the players they sent to the NFL:

  1. Travon Walker, DE, pick 1
  2. Jordan Davis, DT, pick 13
  3. Quay Walker, LB, pick 22
  4. Devonte Wyatt, DT, pick 28
  5. Lewis Cine, DB, pick 32
  6. George Pickens, WR, pick 52
  7. James Cook, RB, pick 63
  8. Nakobe Dean, LB, pick 83
  9. Channing Tindall, LB, pick 102
  10. Zamir White, RB, pick 122
  11. Jake Camarda, P, pick 133
  12. Justin Shaffer, OL, pick 190
  13. Jamaree Salyer, OL, pick 195
  14. Derion Kendrick, DB, pick 212
  15. John Fitzpatrick, TE, pick 213

So they lost 8 defenders to the NFL draft.

It was almost a completely new defense outside of Jalen Carter, Christopher Smith and the edge rusher Nolan Smith. Nolan Smith, however, has been out for the season since October with a torn pec. And Jalen Carter technically wasn’t even a starter last year.

This is the depth chart for Georgia’s 2021 defense:

It’s pretty much all new guys on defense as far as starters go.

They also lost two offensive linemen, two running backs, a wide receiver, a tight end, and a punter.

To lose that many players from a National Championship team and still be able to repeat, it’s incredible.

It’s almost like “they” didn’t repeat—it’s a whole different group of players. At least defensively it is.

I also want to give Kirby credit for keeping this team motivated, almost to the point of brainwashing his players. After the game, Georgia players were being interviewed and saying things like, “People thought we’d go 7-5 this year!”

Huh? Where did they get that idea in their heads? It had to be from Kirby. Just brilliant motivating.

I questioned his ability to maintain his program’s elite play during the middle of the season, when they had that close call against Mizzou and when they failed to put away Kent State. I wondered if maybe some complacency was beginning to set in within that Georgia football program after winning their first National Championship in 41 year. I wondered if perhaps they were going to prove unable to sustain their success. Turns out they were very much able.

An interesting fact about this Georgia team: they became just the second team since 2008 to win a National Title without having to go through Alabama.

Take a look:

  • 2021: Georgia beats Alabama 33-18 in the National Championship
  • 2020: Bama won the Natty
  • 2019: LSU beat Bama 46-41 in the regular season
  • 2018: Clemson beat Bama 44-16 in the Natty
  • 2017 Bama won the Natty
  • 2016: Clemson beat Bama 35-31 in the Natty
  • 2015: Bama won the Natty
  • 2014: Ohio State beat Bama 42-35 in the semifinal
  • 2013: Florida State beats Auburn in the Natty, did not play Bama. Only reason Bama wasn’t in the National Championship game this year was because of the Kick Six
  • 2012: Bama won the Natty
  • 2011: Bama won the Natty
  • 2010: Auburn beat Bama 28-27 in the regular season
  • 2009: Bama won the Natty
  • 2008: Florida beat Bama 31-20 in the SEC Championship game

In the past 15 years, only two teams have won a Natty without beating Bama (or being Bama). Bama lost to LSU this year and failed to win the SEC West, and that’s why Georgia never had to play them.

It may be a sign of the changing times: the National Championship may not go through Alabama anymore.

We’ll still need a few more years to confirm that, but it is very notable that, other than the freak Kick Six year, this is the first time since 2007 that the National Champion didn’t have to go through Alabama.

You may say that Georgia got some fortunate bounces to go their way throughout the course of this season. 9 of their 15 games this year were played in the state of Georgia: 6 home games, and 3 “neutral site” games played in Atlanta.

Would they have beaten Ohio State if Marvin Harrison Jr. didn’t get knocked out with a concussion? Probably not. But Georgia was also missing Darnell Washington, who is extremely important to their offense.

And yes, they did still need Ohio State’s kicker to miss the game-winner at the end in order to hold on.

But name me one National Championship-winning team that hasn’t gotten some favorable bounces and good luck. You can’t. There are none, other than maybe the 2001 Miami Hurricanes.

Even last year’s Georgia team wasn’t perfect: they lost a game. They lost to Bama in the SEC Championship.

This year’s squad didn’t lose a game.

I want to just quickly go through some past national champions and point out how they needed luck to win it all:

  • 2020 Bama: Really didn’t need much luck as they were insanely dominant, but it was a Covid season and a lot of teams were not at their best. Plus, Ohio State’s roster was absolutely decimated for the National Championship game, although Bama probably would’ve won that game either way.
  • 2019 LSU: There were a few close calls, specifically the Texas game in week 2 (LSU won 45-38). But not a whole lot of luck needed here–other than the fact that Joe Burrow transferred to LSU from Ohio State! Burrow broke his hand during training camp in 2017, when he was battling with Dwayne Haskins for the backup QB spot. Had Burrow not broken his hand, perhaps he beats out Haskins for the backup QB spot behind JT Barrett in 2017, perhaps he then wins the starting QB job at Ohio State in 2018, and never ends up at LSU in the first place. It’s one of the great what-ifs in college football history, because if Joe Burrow is at Ohio State as the starting QB in 2018 and 2019, then does Justin Fields ever transfer to Ohio State? Does he stay at Georgia? Does he transfer somewhere else? Perhaps Oklahoma, where Jalen Hurts transferred in 2019? But then where does Hurts transfer to? The bottom line is that it was a freak injury to Joe Burrow in August of 2017 that set off a chain of events that culminated in Joe Burrow leading LSU to the National Championship in January of 2020. Pretty crazy.
  • 2018 Clemson: They absolutely obliterated everybody they played that season, so I guess they were just lucky that Trevor Lawrence was as good as he was as a true freshman? The real good fortune for Clemson was that Bama, in that National Championship game, played, and I am not exaggerating here, the worst game a Saban Bama team has ever played. Actually, it’s not even a debate. Bama lost to UL-Monroe in 2007, but they played even worse in the 2018 Natty.
  • 2017 Bama: they got in as the 4th seed in the CFP. They lost to Auburn in their last game, didn’t even make it to the SEC Championship, and needed help to get into the playoff. Wisconsin, for instance, was 12-0 going into the last week of the season but lost in the Big Ten championship and fell out of the playoff.
  • 2016 Clemson: They weren’t called for offensive pass interference on that game winning touchdown play. It was a rub route to Hunter Renfrow, very well could’ve been called OPI.
  • 2015 Alabama: They had to get an onside kick and a kick return touchdown in the 4th quarter of the National Championship game to get the win. I also think Bama was fortunate that Ohio State lost to Michigan State in the regular season and got left out of the playoff, because Ohio State was the best team in the country in 2015 and nobody will convince me otherwise.
  • 2014 Ohio State: Lost ugly early in the year to Virginia Tech, had to get into the playoff as a 4 seed, basically snuck in. Got lucky that the Committee decided to put them in over TCU and Baylor, who split the Big 12 Championship. Ohio State ran up the score to beat Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship, and that convinced the voters to put them in the playoff. Also, Ohio State benefitted from the fact that the Big 12 didn’t have a championship game, so TCU and Baylor had to split the conference title. Had one of them been able to win sole possession of it in a conference championship game, the winner probably would’ve finished ranked ahead of Ohio State. In the week 14 CFP rankings, TCU was #3, won their final game against Iowa State 55-3, and somehow dropped down to #5. Ohio State, meanwhile, moved up from 5 to 4 after conference championship weekend–despite the fact that nobody ahead of them lost.
  • 2013 Florida State: They were down 21-3 to Auburn in the National Championship game. Came down to a final minute drive down the field. And, I think Florida State was pretty fortunate to avoid Alabama in the Natty. Auburn beat Alabama on the Kick Six play, and that 2013 Auburn team was one of the luckiest football teams I’ve ever seen in general. If the Kick Six doesn’t happen, Bama probably wins that game against Auburn, wins the SEC Championship over Mizzou the next week, and then goes to the National Championship against Florida State. Alabama would’ve been a greater challenge for Florida State, without a doubt, and Florida State still barely even beat Auburn (even though FSU was an 11 point favorite over Auburn, which was the third-largest point spread in a National Championship game since the start of the BCS in 1998
  • 2012 Alabama: Both Alabama and Notre Dame were lucky that they even made it to the National Championship because Ohio State was 12-0, yet under a bowl ban, so they were unable to play for the Natty. Ohio State, were they not under bowl ban, probably would’ve taken the spot in the Championship from one of them. It may well have been Bama, because Bama had a loss on their resume that season: they lost 29-24 to Texas A&M in the famous Johnny Manziel game. Notre Dame didn’t have any losses, so if Ohio State wasn’t under bowl ban, the National Championship game probably would’ve been Ohio State vs. Notre Dame. Now, I think Bama would’ve beaten both of those teams pretty convincingly, but the fact remains that Bama probably only got in to the Championship game because Ohio State was on bowl ban.
    • Additionally, there was another team that actually was bowl-eligible that could’ve kept Alabama out of the National Championship game: Oregon. Starting in week 4, Bama and Oregon were ranked 1 and 2 in the AP Poll, and appeared to be on a collision course for the National Championship. When Bama lost to A&M in week 10, Oregon moved up to #1, but only for a week, as they would lose 17-14 at home, in OT, to Stanford. This was back when Stanford was really good. The game was played in heavy rain, which partly explains why Oregon’s typically high-flying Chip Kelly offense (they averaged 49.6ppg that year) couldn’t get much going, but overall, it was just a bad game for Oregon. They got down to the Stanford 7 in the first quarter and came away with zero points due to a failed fourth down attempt. Probably would’ve been nice to at least get three given how low-scoring the game was. Oregon had a 14-7 lead until very late in the game; Stanford made one last push down the field and was able to finally tie it up with 1:35 to go. They had to convert a 4th and 1. In OT, the Oregon kicker doinked one off the upright, which meant Stanford only had to hit a field goal when they got the ball, which they did. Down went the Ducks and their National Championship hopes. Had Oregon won the game, the National Championship almost certainly would’ve been Oregon vs. Notre Dame.
  • 2011 Alabama: Since they had a loss on their schedule, they actually needed Oklahoma State to lose late in the season in order to get a spot in the National Championship game. Luckily, Iowa State–a 27 point home underdog–beat 10-0 and #2 ranked Oklahoma State in the penultimate game of the regular season. The game went to 2OT. Had Oklahoma State won this game, and then beat Oklahoma the next week (which they did, by a score of 44-10), it probably would have been Oklahoma State playing against LSU in the National Championship, with Bama on the outside looking in. Again, Bama was a better team than both LSU (definitely) and Oklahoma State (probably), but due to the way the BCS system worked, they needed help to actually get in to the National Championship game.
  • 2010 Auburn: Where do I even start here? First off, Auburn was lucky that they even got Cam Newton in the first place. He was originally at Florida, then went to juco, and then his father basically auctioned off Cam’s letter of intent to the highest bidder, asking for $200k. The whole 2010 season for Cam at Auburn was overshadowed by NCAA investigations and rumblings of dirty dealings (probably due to one of the teams that didn’t land him, Mississippi State, having sour grapes and snitching to the NCAA). Cam was even ruled ineligible by the NCAA on November 30, 2010, but the decision was later reversed and he wound up missing zero games. I remember back then there was even doubt over whether Cam was allowed to win the Heisman. Somehow, he and Auburn were able to avoid getting into any trouble for the whole saga. On the field, this Auburn team was basically carried by Cam on offense and Nick Fairley on defense. They had 6 one-possession wins in the regular season–without Cam Newton, this Auburn team probably would’ve been 7-5. They came back from being down 24-0 to Bama to win the Iron Bowl 28-27. Auburn won the National Championship game on a last second field goal over Oregon, and that game really could’ve gone either way. There was a big 4th down stop on the goal line that Auburn made up 19-11 late in the third quarter that really made a huge difference in the game, given that Auburn eventually won 22-19.
  • 2009 Alabama: Colt McCoy got knocked out of the National Championship game very early on with a shoulder injury, and Bama still barely won the game. Another one of the great what-ifs in college football history: what if Colt McCoy never got hurt in this game? I think Texas would’ve won. They almost won even without McCoy.
  • 2008 Florida: They lost earlier in the season to Ole Miss and had to rely on teams ahead of them losing to get into the Championship game. Also, they may well have ducked the stronger National Championship game opponent. They played Oklahoma and won 24-14, but Texas was probably the better team. Texas had beaten Oklahoma straight up that year, 45-35. Yet it was somehow Oklahoma that made it to the Big 12 championship game, which they won and finished 12-1. Texas was 11-1. Complicating the matter was that Mike Leach’s Texas Tech was also 11-1 at the end of the regular season, but their only loss was a 65-21 beat down to Oklahoma in the last game of the season. However, TTU had beaten Texas in dramatic fashion to knock Texas off from the #1 spot. So there was a three-way tie in the Big 12. All three teams were in the same division, too, so they couldn’t even take two of them and have them rematch in the Conference Championship game. They had to go to a convoluted tie breaking process which ultimately selected Oklahoma based on the grounds that they were ranked highest in the BCS formula. This itself was only a function of the fact that they had lost to Texas on October 11, while Texas lost to Texas Tech on November 1, meaning Oklahoma had more time to recover from its loss in the rankings. This arbitrary and convoluted mess of a system is of course what makes college football so special, but it also makes it hopelessly archaic and ass-backwards. Texas probably deserved to play for the national championship against Florida but couldn’t because of the inherent brokenness of the sport’s system for deciding its champions.
  • 2007 LSU: This team had 2 losses on their resume; they needed chaos in the final weeks of the season and they got it.
  • 2006 Florida: Also needed chaos at the end of the regular season to get in, as they had lost earlier to Auburn.
  • 2005 Texas: USC and Texas were ranked 1 and 2 starting with the preseason rankings. But in that unforgettable National Championship game between them, USC scored a touchdown to go up 38-26 with 6:42 left in the game. Texas had to make a stop on 4th and 2 from their own 45 yard line with 2:12 left in the game. USC’s LenDale White, the running back, came up just short and Texas took over on downs. If USC had picked up that first down, the game was probably over. I understand why Pete Carroll didn’t punt the ball away; because the USC defense couldn’t stop Vince Young. Texas that year didn’t play in many close games. The only other one they had was up in Columbus to play Ohio State early in the season when Ohio State was ranked #4. Texas had to engineer a late scoring drive to pull ahead by a point with about 2 minutes to play, and Ohio State made some blunders that cost them the game (a dropped TD pass in the end zone late in the third quarter that would’ve made it 26-16 Buckeyes). I wouldn’t say this Texas team was “lucky,” but they certainly had some close calls.

Luck has played a role in deciding almost every national championship.

So if you want to knock this Georgia team for being “lucky,” then you have to knock pretty much every other National Champion as well.

Look, I do think that Ohio State was probably the best team in the country this year. And I’ll tell you why: because they were good enough to beat Georgia even though they were missing their top tight end Cade Stover, their top receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (and by the 4th quarter of the Peach Bowl, their top two receivers) and their top THREE running backs.

I don’t care that they lost to Michigan. That game was a fluke, it proves nothing other than Michigan was better than Ohio State on that day only (and really they were just better than Ohio State on like 5 or 6 key plays, otherwise they were getting dominated).

In the NFL, do we take single regular season games as the be-all, end-all? No of course we don’t.

In the 2021 NFL regular season, the LA Rams, who won the Super Bowl, had a 37-20 loss to the Cardinals. They also lost 31-10 to the 49ers.

The 2020 Bucs won the Super Bowl, but in the regular season, they lost to the Saints by a score of 38-3.

In 2018, the eventual Super Bowl Champion Patriots had a regular season game in November where they lost to the Titans 34-10.

The 2016 Super Bowl Champion Patriots had a regular season game where they lost 16-0 to the Bills.

The 2014 Super Bowl Champion Patriots lost 41-14 to the Chiefs in the regular season. 

You can be the best team and still have some really ugly losses on your resume. We all understand this innately in the NFL.

It’s only college football where a single regular season game can completely destroy your team’s reputation and even end your entire season.

So I do think that Ohio State was probably the best team in the country this year. They weren’t a perfect team by any stretch, but nobody was. The top teams in the country were all flawed this year. All of them were.

When we stack up this Georgia squad with past National Champions, there is no way anyone will put them up there in the same category as the 2021 Georgia squad, or the 2020 Alabama squad, or 2019 LSU. This Georgia team is not on the same level as any of those three teams.

But they didn’t have to be better than any of those teams. They only had to be the best team in the country this year.

The only thing Georgia didn’t do this year, and I’m sure they’ll probably hear about it in drunken sports debates for years to come, is they didn’t beat Alabama.

They’re already talking about it on the Bama message boards:

Unfortunately we can’t prove you wrong, BamaFreak1978, because Bama didn’t make it to the playoff.

They didn’t even make it to the SEC Championship, where Georgia was waiting for them.

Like I said earlier, the two teams that beat Bama this year–LSU and Tennessee–Georgia smacked both of them.

Bama fans may not be able to accept this, but their team was not that great this year. Bama fans will say it’s because Bryce Young was hurt. And it’s true that Bryce Young hurt his shoulder in the Arkansas game in week 5. He missed the following game, in which Bama, led by backup Jalen Milroe, barely hung on to beat Texas A&M at home by a score of 24-20.

But Young came back the next week against Tennessee. Maybe he was still hurting for that game, maybe he wasn’t. But he threw for 455 yards on 35/52 passing, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. How much better could he have been in that game? Bama lost to Tennessee because they gave up 52 points, not because of Bryce Young.

Bryce was healthy against Texas and Bama still barely won that game. How do you explain that?

And as for the LSU game? Bryce Young was the only reason that game was even close. He’s the only reason it went to overtime.

Bama’s offensive line could not protect Bryce against LSU, and he still led them on two incredible scoring drives in the 4th.

You may say that Bama had to play Tennessee and LSU on the road while Georgia got them at home. Valid point. (Well, technically Georgia played LSU in Atlanta, but that’s a home game.)

But Tennessee and LSU were nowhere close to Georgia in those games. Georgia soundly beat both of them.

Face it, Bama fans: Georgia was better than you this year. They just were.

What Bama fans had better be worried about is next season, because with Bryce, Will Anderson and Jahmyr Gibbs gone, I don’t think Bama is going to be all that great. Jordan Battle is going to the league, so is To’o To’o, so is Hellams, so is Latu to the TE, Brian Branch is gone, Eli Ricks is gone–they’re losing a ton of players.

But the most important thing is that Bryce Young is gone. He absolutely carried Bama this year–and last year, too.

Replacing Bryce will be either Jalen Milroe (unlikely) or Ty Simpson, the true sophomore. It’ll most likely be Simpson taking over for Bryce Young. Simpson was a 5 star, and Milroe didn’t look very good when he played this past season.

I’ll admit, Simpson looks like a stud. He’s a white boy but he can scramble. He’s no AJ McCarron or Jake Coker. However, I don’t think he’s on Bryce Young’s level.

The bottom line is that Bama is losing a ton of talent including a Heisman QB who may well go #1 overall in the NFL draft in a few months, and that’s from a team that went 10-2 and failed to even make the playoff.

They’ll have Dallas Turner and Kool Aid back next year, which is big for the defense. But they are losing a lot from a team that wasn’t even good enough to get to the SEC Championship.

Nick Saban is going to turn 72 next season, and I just don’t know how much more he has left in the tank. I predicted that Saban would retire after this season, and while that appears to have been proven wrong, the fact remains that Bama is slipping ever so slightly and Saban doesn’t have more than a few years left of elite-level coaching.

Meanwhile, Kirby Smart is just 47 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. Kirby has taken the crown. Georgia is the king of college football now.

Georgia no longer has to go through Bama; Bama now has to go through Georgia.


Speaking of next year, what’s it looking like for the Dawgs?

People on Twitter are already pulling up next year’s schedule and penciling in a three-peat, and it does look like a cakewalk at first glance:

South Carolina is going to be tougher next year. Auburn will be improved under Hugh Freeze.

It’s up in the air whether Florida will improve in year 2 under Billy Napier.

Tennessee will probably be the toughest game Georgia plays next year, just because it’ll be on the road. But I’m not sure Tennessee will be better next year than they were this year. They loose Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman, their three best offensive players. We’ll just have to see how they look with Joe Milton and his absolute rocket launcher of an arm.

That non-conference schedule for Georgia next year, though: UT-Martin, Ball State and UAB. Cakewalk.

The good part for Georgia is that it’s likely that next year, two of the three best teams in the SEC will be in the West–LSU and Alabama. And Georgia doesn’t play either of them in the regular season, which means they’ll only have to play one of them in order to get to the playoff, and that’ll be in the SEC Championship. It works to Georgia’s advantage that LSU and Bama will take each other out next year and only one of them can make it to Atlanta.

Georgia is probably the favorite to win the SEC again regardless.

What about nationally?

People are high on Michigan next year, Ohio State is always going to be ranked highly, and Penn State should be really good.

As far as Penn State goes, I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m not saying they won’t be good, I’m just saying they need to prove it.

Michigan is, as usual, being vastly overrated. JJ McCarthy is mid, and they lost to the team that Georgia beat by 58 this year. Plus, Harbaugh is almost certainly going to the NFL, which is bad news in Ann Arbor. Michigan poses no threat to Georgia. I’m confident saying that right now. People are talking about Blake Corum coming back. Dude, Donovan Edwards is better than Corum. All Corum does is take carries away from Edwards. Those two big long runs at the end of the Ohio State game? If Corum was in the game he wouldn’t have busted those off; he’s not fast enough.

I don’t think any team from the Big 12 or Pac 12 stands a chance against the Dawgs next year, but there is one other team from another conference out there that people are high on going into next season: Florida State. They’ll probably be ranked in the top-5 when the preseason rankings come out, they get Jordan Travis and a ton of talent coming back. FSU might be Fully Back™. So they’re a legitimate playoff threat for next season.

(Side note: the next time I’m in a state with legal online sports gambling, I’m placing a futures bet on Jordan Travis to win the Heisman next year. I won on Caleb Williams last year after betting on him in April.)

I think we all just want to see the rematch against Ohio State, honestly. Ohio State is the only team that has really given Georgia a scare in the past two years. I know Bama beat Georgia in the SEC Championship game last year, but let’s be real here: Georgia didn’t really have anything to play for in that game. They knew they were in the playoff regardless, whereas Bama had to win or else they’d be knocked out of the playoff picture. When it came down to the rematch in the National Championship, Georgia took care of business.

We deserve a Georgia vs. Ohio State rematch in the playoff next year. I know Ryan Day is thinking about it, and a lot of Ohio State’s best players are returning for next season. The only issue is that CJ Stroud is going to the NFL (he hasn’t declared yet but it would be shocking if he comes back another year). Ohio State’s quarterback is always great under Ryan Day, but it’s still a question mark given that they’re about to likely lose a guy who will go top-3 in the NFL draft, if not #1 overall. You can’t just assume they won’t miss a beat without Stroud.

And while we’re all clamoring for a Georgia vs. Ohio State rematch, a lot of Georgia’s best players are departing. Stetson Bennett has finally exhausted all of his eligibility (and I do think he will get drafted, by the way–underestimate him at your own risk). Jalen Carter, Kelee Ringo, Nolan Smith, Christopher Smith–they’re all gone from the defense. Darnell Washington is going to the draft, Broderick Jones, Sedrick Van Penn–those will be big losses along the offensive line.

They do bring a lot of young and great players back:

The biggest loss is Stetson, though. The Georgia defense may have carried them last year, but this year, they would not have repeated without Stetson Bennett. That dude made plays. They might have honestly gotten blown out by Ohio State without Stetson Bennett at QB–he was the only reason they were able to keep pace and claw their way back into that game.

People don’t take Stetson seriously because he was a walk-on, but he’s legit, man. Baker Mayfield was a walk-on and he went #1 overall. Stetson is mobile and he can fit throws into windows. The dude has some speed.

I might be getting caught up in the moment, but I think he’ll have an NFL career. He might not be a starting QB, but somebody will pick him up and if he’s in the right system, he might surprise some people. I could see him having a Taylor Heinicke-like NFL career. That’s my comp for him, I think. He’s a bit smaller than Henicke (Heinicke is listed at 6’1″ and 205lbs, Stetson is listed at 5’11” and 190lbs) but he’s got so much dawg in him. He plays big.

I’ll be interested to see what he measures out at during the combine compared to Bryce Young. Bryce Young is considered basically the consensus top pick in the draft and he’s probably even smaller than Stetson Bennett. In fact, I’m certain he’s even smaller. They’re saying Bryce Young might not even be 5’10”.

But the question here is how Georgia will replace him. Stetson Bennett was a special player, and you don’t just replace a guy like him willy nilly.

Carson Beck is the likely successor, and he got some playing time late in the Natty when Kirby took Stetson out. We can’t really draw too much from that, but Beck was a 4-star recruit in the 2020 class. He might be good, but I don’t think he’ll be as good as Stetson Bennett. And that’s the chief concern for Georgia, because until they got Stetson Bennett, they weren’t really having much success at the highest level. They were always kind of held back by the QB position. It was the missing piece for them.

They would’ve probably won the Natty in 2017 if Jake Fromm was a better QB. Maybe even 2018 as well.

They ran with JT Daniels for a little while but once Stetson emerged, they sent Daniels to the bench rather quickly.

The bottom line here is that it won’t be easy for Carson Beck to fill Stetson Bennett’s shoes. It’s almost an impossible task. I mean, how can you follow up for a guy who led the team to back-to-back National Titles?

That’s the biggest worry for Georgia–losing Stetson Bennett. Georgia has always had freak athletes all over the field, ever since Kirby Smart took over. And that won’t change.

What Georgia hasn’t had until recently was a dynamic and special quarterback. And it’s no coincidence that once they got on in Stetson, they reeled off back-to-back National Championships.

Stetson Bennett is the difference-maker for Georgia. He took that program to the next level. Before him, they were constantly losing in big moments to Bama, or to Joe Burrow’s LSU. Stetson was what got them over the hump.

You need to be dynamic at quarterback nowadays. You can’t win a National Championship with a Jake Fromm-type QB. You need more out of your quarterback. You need him to be a playmaker–a plus player who brings value to the table. Your QB cannot just be along for the ride nowadays. It ain’t 2009 anymore. You are going to have to lean on your quarterback at some point.

Several times this year Georgia had to lean on Stetson Bennett to make plays and, frankly, carry them to victory. The Mizzou game, the Ohio State game, and even a little bit the LSU game. They don’t win those games with Jake Fromm or JT Daniels. Sorry to pile on Jake Fromm–nothing against the guy, but I’m just trying to emphasize how much of a difference-maker Stetson is.

If Carson Beck is another Jake Fromm or JT Daniels, Georgia ain’t getting it done. They’ll be a good team, but they won’t be an elite team.

And so that’s the big concern for them when it comes to three-peating: replacing Stetson Bennett.

As far as I know, nobody has ever three-peated in college football, at least during the poll era (since 1936). It’s even rare to repeat because of the inherent roster turnover built into college football.

Three-peating is so difficult precisely because it virtually requires you to keep the same quarterback for three years. Nobody does that anymore. Typically, by the time the QB is good enough to win even one National Championship, he’s also good enough to go to the NFL, and he does. You’d have to have a situation like Trevor Lawrence, where he won the Natty as a true freshman, in order to have any shot at three-repeating.

Georgia is going to have to do it the hard way–with a different quarterback.

I just don’t see how they do it, the more I think about it. Nothing against Carson Beck at all. I’m sure he’s a decent quarterback. It’s more about how good Stetson Bennett is. You don’t just replace players like him. It’s not just his on-field play, either. It’s his intangibles, his leadership, his checks at the line, his attitude that rubs off on the team.

I’m skeptical of Georgia’s chances to repeat. I hate to rain on the parade so quickly, but really, I’m just giving Stetson his flowers here. Not having him makes it significantly less likely that Georgia is able to repeat.

Fortunately for UGA fans, they don’t have to worry about that for 9 months.


The last thing I want to touch on here is the idea of the 12-team playoff. The doubters have come out in full force again, grumbling against the 12-team playoff and saying, “We told you so.”

For one thing, the 12 team playoff is happening regardless. There’s no use complaining about it now. It’s not going away, and if anything it’ll only expand over time.

It’s not like the college football big wigs are going to be like, “Oh! Some stat geeks on Twitter just totally owned our 12 team playoff idea with #Facts and #Logic and now we’re going to cancel the whole thing. In fact, we’re going back to the BCS system. In fact, fuck it: let’s not even play college football at all. Let’s just give the trophy to the #1 team in the preseason poll!”

I really don’t understand the arguments against an expanded playoff. At the end of the day, these people are arguing that we should play less, not more, football. They’d rather these games not be played because they are convinced that only 2-3 teams are even capable of winning a National Championship in a given year.

But to me that’s beside the point entirely: let’s see those teams prove it. Let’s not just assume we know.

I don’t care if TCU has very little to no chance of beating Georgia. I really don’t care. The whole idea being pushed by the 12-team playoff doubters is that since Georgia is way better than TCU, there’s no reason to even allow a team like TCU into the playoff. We know Georgia would win, so don’t even play the game at all.

But I don’t care. Play the games anyway. Wouldn’t you rather at least see Georgia beat the tar out of TCU than just not play the game at all? TCU has a zero percent chance of beating Georgia if you don’t even let TCU play Georgia. At least if they play the game there’s a 5% chance.

With a 12 team playoff, there will not be any lingering doubts about “What if this team didn’t get snubbed?” or “Such and such team would have won it if they were in the field.”

You won’t have any Bama fans saying, “We would’ve won!” because they would’ve had the chance to prove it. And they would have lost to Georgia.

But again, my reasons for supporting the expanded playoff have pretty much nothing to do with refuting the idea that only 2-3 teams per year can win the championship.

  1. More avenues to the postseason should eliminate the recruiting bottleneck at the top of the sport.
  2. The 4 team playoff model has inevitably and predictably devolved into considering teams for how “deserving” they are rather than how objectively good they are. Was Cincinnati better than Ohio State last year? Were they better than Utah? Probably not. But they got into the playoff because they were undefeated and they were the “most deserving” and people would have cried and bitched if they were left out.

I want the college football postseason to be exhaustive. By that I mean, when there is a champion crowned, I want there to be absolutely zero doubts about whether that team was truly the best in the country.

The only way to do that is to have a 12-team field.

The 12-team playoff field this season would have included the “more deserving” team in TCU, but also would’ve included the “objectively better” team in Alabama.

Under the 4 team playoff model, you can typically only choose one of them, and usually the “more deserving” team wins out.

In the 12 team playoff, TCU would’ve gotten in, and they would’ve probably won a game or two, but they would have been weeded out of there before the Championship game. They would’ve lost to Georgia, Alabama or Ohio State before getting the chance to get to the Championship game and get embarrassed.

This year, all they had to do was beat the most fraudulent and overrated program in the history of college football in the semifinal and that was enough to get them a ticket to the National Championship game.

When it was 38-7 Georgia lead at halftime, people were looking at TCU like, “Who let you in here?”

Well, the 4-team playoff model did!

TCU barely scraped by their Big 12 schedule, with 6 of their 12 wins coming by one possession. But they were selected to the playoff, and at that point, all that stood between them and the National Championship game was the most fraudulent and overrated program in the history of college football, Michigan.

That’s who let them in.

TCU only had to beat Michigan to get a shot at the National Championship.

In a 12 team format, TCU would never have made it to the National Championship game:

TCU maybe beats Tulane in the 5-12 matchup. Then they’d have to play Utah, a game they maybe win.

If they win those two games, then they play Georgia in the semifinal, not the Championship game.

In a 12 team format, the semifinal would’ve been Georgia vs. TCU and Michigan vs. Ohio State. Or maybe Alabama beats Michigan in the quarterfinal and it’s Alabama vs. Ohio State.

So your Championship game would’ve been Georgia vs. either Ohio State, Alabama or Michigan, rather than Georgia vs. TCU.

The weaker teams get weeded out in the earlier rounds of the 12 team playoff.

But then this gets us back to square one: why even include the weaker teams in the first place?

Well, we include them because there needs to be automatic playoff berths. You should be able to make it to the playoff if you win your conference, no questions asked. That needs to be a feature of college football. Every team in the country needs to know going into the season that if they win all their games, they will be National Champions. The only way you can accomplish this if you have automatic berths.

And second of all, yes, 9 times out of 10, Georgia beats the brakes off of TCU. But maybe one time TCU wins that game.

Upsets happen in college football. Bama loses to a far inferior team almost every year.

But most of all, I don’t give a shit how little of a chance a team like TCU has against Georgia.

What matters is that they have the chance to play Georgia in the first place.

You’re just never going to convince me that we’d be better off not playing that game at all. Even if Georgia wins 65-7.

The BCS model was ridiculously flawed. I’ve written at length about this.

The 4 team playoff model is also seriously flawed, albeit less so than the BCS. But it brings a whole host of other issues that the BCS didn’t have, namely that it creates the bottleneck in recruiting up at the very top of the sport.

The 12 team model is preferable because it is the best chance at removing the bottleneck in recruiting at the top, and because it is exhaustive in that it includes every team that could conceivably win the National Championship and gives all of them a chance.

The 12 team playoff will not have the dilemma between “most deserving” vs. “objectively better” teams. You won’t have to choose between TCU and Alabama. You can include both of them.

The Georgia-TCU beatdown does nothing to change my mind about the 12 team playoff. If anything, it only strengthens my conviction that we need the 12-team playoff ASAP. We need it next season, not two seasons from now.

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