Georgia Coach Kirby Smart and quarterback Stetson Bennett celebrate their victory over TCU in the College Football Playoff final on Monday in Inglewood, Calif. Georgia won 65-7. Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Most Georgia fans at SoFi Stadium had trekked into the soggy Southern California night, satisfied after watching their Bulldogs bludgeon TCU, when coach Kirby Smart delivered a message for them.

“They can’t take it for granted,” Smart said. “You can’t take opportunities like this for granted. They showed up in full force. They better never get tired of it because we need them here. We need them to back us.

“And you can’t become complacent as a fan, and we can’t become complacent as coaches.”

Smart’s audience should have no problem getting that message. For decades, Georgia was one of college football’s great underachievers. Smart has helped to build the program into a dominant force, but it’s not easy. The Bulldogs just made it look that way while beating TCU into submission with a national title on the line.

Georgia is the undefeated, unquestioned king of college football for the 2022 season after beating TCU, 65-7, on Monday night. The Bulldogs are the first back-to-back champions since Alabama in 2011-12. Smart beat his old boss, Alabama Coach Nick Saban, for last season’s national title. Now he’s one-upped Saban with a 15-0 season, matching Clemson (2018) and LSU (2019).

Oddsmakers had No. 1 Georgia favored by 13.5 points at kickoff. That’s the largest point spread in a national championship game since college football started staging them in 1998. It turns out the betting markets badly underestimated the Bulldogs, who made third-ranked TCU look like Kent State.


That’s not fair to the Flashes, who played Georgia tough for a half in September. The Horned Frogs had one competitive moment, getting their deficit down to 10-7 in the first quarter, before Georgia rolled to an easy victory. The victory was astonishing in its completeness.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett was brilliant in his final college game. He passed for 304 yards with four touchdowns and ran for two more scores. Bennett took one snap in the fourth quarter before taking the rest of the night off.

“What he did tonight was truly amazing,” Smart said. “Probably had his best game of his career.”

Ohio State embarrassed Georgia’s great defense in the Peach Bowl. That group earned redemption by shutting down TCU’s high-scoring offense.

“We had about a perfect night,” Smith said.

To have a chance, the Horned Frogs needed to play great and catch Georgia on an off-night. Neither of those things happened. TCU’s improbable, special run to the championship game ended with a humbling defeat to the nation’s best team.


Before the game, ESPN asked TCU Coach Sonny Dykes how his team could pull an upset.

“We believe we can, most importantly,” Dykes said.

It didn’t take long to see that Dykes was wrong. His players didn’t really believe they could win. And who can blame them? Everyone could see that Georgia was too big, too fast and too good for TCU.

The Bulldogs scored every time they had the ball in the first half. By the time TCU finally stopped them, they led 38-7. The Bulldogs scored another touchdown when they got the ball back again, forced a three-and-out by TCU, and then scored another TD. More than 20 minutes remained in the game, but it was over.

This was the crowning achievement of a new era of Georgia football. Last season’s national championship wasn’t a one-off. After falling short of expectations for so long, the Bulldogs are built to keep winning big for longer than they’ve ever done it.

Georgia had all-time great Herschel Walker for three years, won one national championship and then didn’t play for another over nearly 40 years. The Bulldogs went 20 years between SEC titles. Conference rivals Florida, Auburn, LSU, Alabama and Tennessee had great teams win championships. Georgia Tech did it, too.

Georgia football was stuck on mediocre for a long time. Then former athletic director Greg McGarity hired Smart, who’d played for the Bulldogs. He took the job with the understanding that Georgia would pour money into the program, like Saban had done at Alabama. Smart got everything he wanted and, now, so has Georgia.

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