ATLANTA — Georgia appeared to be in good shape to win its first national title since 1980. Instead, Alabama won its fifth title in nine seasons Monday night by rallying for a 26-23 overtime win in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Here are five takeaways from the all-SEC affair.
1. Tua Tagovailoa was the shot in the arm Alabama needed
At halftime, Alabama had zero points, 94 total yards, four first downs, three completions and three three-and-out possessions. That caused Nick Saban to bench starting quarterback Jalen Hurts and call on true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who jump-started the offense in a big way. He threw for 166 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 27 yards. Ironicalluy, Tagovailoa showed the same qualities that Jake Fromm showed all season long for the Bulldogs. He did not appear to be nervous, he ran the offense efficiently and he made some big throws.
2. Georgia could not put Alabama away
Georgia led 13-0 at halftime, 20-7 midway through the third quarter and 20-10 heading into the fourth quarter. Alabama scored on three of its final five drives of regulation. On Georgia’s final five drives, it had an interception and four punts. The Bulldogs went three-and-out on their final two possessions of regulation. In the final 11:39 of regulation, the Bulldogs had the ball for just 2:59.
3. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel limited in their final game
The most productive running back duo in NCAA history did not have the ideal finish, with a combined 123 yards against Alabama. Michel rushed for 98 yards on 14 carries, while Chubb was held to 25 on 18 attempts; it was his lowest total of the season. The Bulldogs ran the ball 45 times for 133 yards, their second-lowest total of the season. The most important part of the Bulldogs’ offense was limited — especially in the second half, when Georgia managed just 36 yards — which is a big reason Georgia fell short.
4. Alabama got timely pressure on Fromm
The Crimson Tide had four sacks of Fromm, and finished with 12 tackles for loss — the most Alabama had in a game this season. The sacks were timely, too, with one coming in the fourth quarter and one in overtime. The OT sack by Terrell Lewis came on third-and-six and forced a 51-yard field goal attempt by Rodrigo Blankenship.
5. The The Crimson Tide saved their best football for the fourth quarter
Alabama is known for its ability to wear down teams over four quarters, and the Crimson Tide certainly looked fresher in the fourth period. Alabama outscored Georgia 26-10 in the second half and overtime, and 10-0 in the fourth quarter. Alabama outgained the Bulldogs 155-41 in the fourth period. In addition, the Tide had 10 of their 20 first downs in the final quarter; Georgia had two.
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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