Super Bowl 2022
MyNewsLA photo by Clancy O'Dessky

Georgia is on top of the college football world again Tuesday after winning its second national championship in a row in the most one-sided bowl victory in history.

The Bulldogs routed TCU, 65-7, in the College Football Playoff title game Monday night at SoFi Stadium with quarterback Stetson Bennett throwing four touchdown passes and running for two more scores as Georgia became the first team to win back-to-back championships since Alabama in 2011 and 2012.

The Bulldogs (15-0) scored on all six of their first half-possessions to build a 38-7 halftime lead.

“We had things go about as bad as they could go in the first half,” Horned Frogs coach Sonny Dykes said at halftime. “We turned the ball over three times, we gave up big plays. I think early on our guys were a little wide-eyed.”

When asked why the game was so one-sided, Georgia coach Kirby Smart responded, “I don’t have an answer for that. I think preparation was really good. I’ll be honest with you, I was a little concerned that we were tired. I had apprehension about a couple of the practices we had.”

Bennett concluded a six-season college career that began in 2017 as a walk-on at Georgia by being selected as the offensive player of the game for completing 18 of 25 passes for 304 yards and running for 39 yards on three carries.

“Probably had his best game of his career, in my opinion, with some of the checks he made, some of the decisions he made, just really elite,” Smart said after his team won its 17th consecutive game, tying the school record set from 1945-47.

Bennett was also the Offensive Player of the Game in the Bulldogs’ 33-18 victory over Alabama in the Jan. 10, 2022, College Football Playoff title game.

All student-athletes whose 2020-2021 season was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic were given a sixth year to compete in four full seasons of their sport in college by the NCAA.

Defensive back Javon Bullard was selected as the defensive player of the game for making two interceptions and recovering a fumble, all in the first half. Georgia converted the turnovers into 17 points.

Georgia outgained the Horned Frogs 354 yards to 121 in the first half and 589-188 the entire game. The Bulldogs led 32-9 in first downs, including 19-5 in the first half.

Georgia led 36:59-23:01 in time of possession, including 18:47-11:13 in the first half before a crowd announced at 72,628.

“Our preparation was really good,” Dykes said. “I thought we had two of the better practices, when we were in full pads, than we had all year. And to be able to have those — and it was week 22 for us, I believe — for the players to practice like they did 22 weeks into the season, it’s a real credit to those guys.

“And, again, I don’t know what happened tonight. We ran into a really good team and we did some very uncharacteristic things and it snowballed on us. And that hasn’t happened to us one time this year that we haven’t been able to fight our way back and figure out a way to get back in the game or win the game. We weren’t able to do it tonight.”

Dykes said his team was “probably just a little too fired up, maybe a little too emotional and as a result did some things that we don’t normally do.”

“I just don’t think we were in the state of mind that we needed to be in,” Dykes said.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan completed 14 of 22 passes for 152 yards with two interceptions.

“I held onto the ball a little bit too long, wasn’t getting through reads, was kind of causing trouble for the O line myself. It was kind of on me,” said Duggan, the runner-up in voting for the Heisman Trophy behind USC quarterback Caleb Williams. “But they had some good schemes.”

Duggan ran 2 yards on a third-and-1 play with 4 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter for the Horned Frogs’ lone touchdown.

TCU (13-2) played without its leading rusher, Kendre Miller, who suffered a knee injury in its 51-45 victory over Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve that put the Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff title game. Miller told ESPN on Saturday he has a sprained MCL in his right knee.

Inglewood native Emari Demercado rushed for a game-high 59 yards on 14 carries for TCU Monday after rushing for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Horned Frogs were seeking to become the first team since Michigan State in 1965 to win a national championship after having a losing record the previous season and the fifth team all time.

TCU was 5-7 in 2021. Dykes was hired to fill the vacancy created by the firing of Gary Patterson eight games into the 2021 season, his 21st as its coach, when the Horned Frogs were 3-5.

“A loss like this stings,” Dykes said. “But we talked about this a little bit in the locker room a second ago, just about how far we’ve come in a year and what these guys have been able to accomplish really when nobody outside of our locker room expected it or really believed in them.”

TCU was predicted to finish seventh in the 10-team Big 12 Conference in voting by media representatives in July.

Bennett opened the scoring with a 21-yard touchdown run to complete a five-play, 57-yard drive after the Bulldogs forced the Horned Frogs to punt after three plays on the game’s opening drive.

Jack Podlesny kicked a 24-yard field goal to increase Georgia’s lead to 10-0 8:09 into the game, six plays after Bullard recovered Derius Davis’ fumble at TCU’s 33-yard line.

Bennett threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Ladd McConkey and ran 6 yards for a score on the Bulldogs’ next two possessions, increasing their lead to 24-7 with 8:30 remaining in the second quarter.

Kendall Milton ran 1 yard for a touchdown for Georgia 1:19 before halftime. Bennett threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Adonai Mitchell with 26 seconds left in the first half, two plays after Bullard intercepted a pass by Duggan at TCU’s 25-yard line and returned the ball 3 yards.

Bennett threw 22- and 14-yard touchdown passes to Brock Bowers and McConkey in the third quarter. Freshman running back Branson Robinson ran for 1- and 19-yard touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs.

The previous record for the most one-sided bowl victory was 56 points set by Centre College in a 63-7 victory over TCU in the 1920 Fort Worth Classic, then tied by Tulsa in a 63-7 victory over Bowling Green in the 2007 GMAC Bowl, Army in a 70-14 victory over Houston in the 2018 Armed Forces Bowl and LSU in a 63-7 victory over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl Jan. 2.

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