University of Georgia wins College Football Playoff national championship

On Jan. 10, 2022, in the Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, the Georgia Bulldogs pulled off an incredible win against the Alabama Crimson Tide, claiming their first College Football Playoff national championship since 1980. Having previously lost to Alabama on Dec. 4, 2021, in the SEC championship, Georgia redeemed themselves with a 33-18 win in the national championship. UGA finished 14-1 and concluded the season by breaking Alabama’s seven-game winning streak against them that began in 2008. 

“The fact that Georgia won the national championship is still unreal to me,” said senior  Kappi Jernigan. “After watching the devastating loss in 2018 and the SEC championship this year, I was terrified going into the game. But I am so happy the players were able to pull out a win and get the national attention they deserved for their hard work.” 

Many Georgia fans echoed Jernigan’s nervousness before the game, expecting a repeat of Georgia’s losses to Alabama in the 2018 national championship and the recent SEC championship.

“I was really expecting Alabama to win, but I’m super excited that Georgia won!” said sophomore Emma Grace Roe.

Georgia kicked off to Alabama, and the Crimson Tide drove the ball down to the Bulldogs 19-yard line, scoring a field goal to kick off the match. After a mostly uneventful first quarter, Georgia tied up the game 3-3 with a 24-yard field goal. With 3:06 left in the first half, neither team had scored a touchdown, and Alabama led 9-6. Returning from halftime, Alabama gave up their first turnover of the game in the third quarter when UGA safety Christopher Smith intercepted an overthrown pass by Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. By the end of the quarter, UGA running back Zamir White scored the first touchdown of the game, giving the Bulldogs a 13-9 lead. With 12:59 left in the fourth quarter, the Crimson Tide brought the game to a tight match with a crucial field goal. Shortly after, Alabama forced a Georgia turnover, and the Crimson Tide capitalized on the Bulldog’s error, regaining the lead with a touchdown and bringing the score to 18-13. Georgia then completed an 18-yard pass followed by a 40-yard touchdown completion with 8:09 left to go. After stopping the subsequent Alabama offensive drive, Georgia drove into Alabama territory, and lengthened their lead to 26-18 with 3:33 to go after a touchdown connection with tight end Brock Bowers. To finalize the Georgia win, cornerback Kelee Ringo intercepted Young’s pass and raced down the right side of the field for the final touchdown of the game.

“Our defense was unstoppable all season and even with all the doubters, Stetson pulled through for us,” said senior James Solomon. “Unforgettable.”

Many fans celebrated this historic win by flooding the streets of Athens after the game, attending the University of Georgia parade, or simply cheering from home with friends and family.

“I was lucky enough to get to watch the game in downtown Athens with some of my friends who are students at UGA,” said Jernigan. “This weekend, I am planning on going to Sanford Stadium for the parade and celebration event.”

On Saturday, Jan. 15, around 12:30 pm, members of the UGA football team paraded through Athens to celebrate their win. The event began at Lumpkin Street and ended at Sanford Stadium, a tradition known as the Dawg Walk. Fans cheered from the streets, celebrating the hard-earned victory, and met in the stadium soon after for the celebration ceremony. Some 92,746 tickets were sold to fans who crowded the stadium eager to celebrate Bulldog’s coach Kirby Smart’s first national title. The ceremony began with former Bulldogs leading the crowd in the “calling all the Dawgs” chant followed by a hype video projected on the big screen. The celebration also featured speeches from Governor Brian Kemp, a UGA graduate and former Athens native, and Coach Smart.