Alabama, Saban roll into history with National Championship win
From "Turnover Chains" to Twirking in lockerrooms-you probably thought you had seen it all this season as teams wound their way through the bowl season and College Football Playoffs. That was, however, until the final play of the 2018 National College Football National Championship game. Kendrick Lamar wasn't the only one lighting up the stage at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday night. Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa lit up the crowd as he hurled a 41 yard strike to #6 DeVonta Smith to win the game in overtime. The Tide redefined resilience in the most exciting game of the year as they climbed from a 13-0 deficit at the half due to the less than stellar 3/8 passing for 21 yards and 0 TD by starting QB Jalen Hurt.
A 6-yard Tagovailoa touchdown pass to Henry Riggs III with 8:53 remaining in the 3rd quarter, brought Alabam within a score. They trialed 13-7 until Georgia answered on the following drive as freshman QB Jake Fromm connected with Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-7.
With 3:49 remaining-fourth and four to go, Tagovailoa found Calvin Ridley in the middle of the end zone to tie the game at 20-20 in the final quarter.
Alabama's Andy Pappanastos had a chance to end the game during regulation with 5 seconds left on the clock and extend his streak of 13-straight field goals from 36 yards or less in his career. But the wide-left kick sent the game into overtime.
The Bulldogs' Rodrigo Blankenship had the Tide on the ropes after hitting a 51-yard field goal as Georgia scored first in overtime to go ahead 23-20. It looked as if Georgia might win its first national title since 1980 if their defense could hold down Alabama's new-found energy for one last posession.
On Alabama's OT posession, right after sufferinga huge sack in the hands of Georgia's Bulldog defense, Tua Tagovailoa connected with DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard touchdown reception to seal the 26-23 victory for the Tide and made Nick Sabam smile and show a tiny bit of emotion. "This is a great win for our players and this is the happiest I've ever been in my life," Nick Saban said on the field during a post game interview.
Tua Tagovailoa, a product from the same high school as Tennessee Titan's QB Marcus Mariota, went 14/24 for 166 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT in just 1 half. Georgia's Jake Fromm was 16/32 for 232 yards and 1 TD in the Bulldog's loss. Sony Michel lead everyone on the ground with 14 carries for 98 yards but failed to rush for a touchdown.
After entering the game for the first time as Alabama's starter for the second half, replacing Hurt-a 25-2 starter this season, the left handed Tagovailoa threw for three touchdowns to three different receivers-a key factor in earning the Tide's 5th National Championship since 2009-the latest milestone in the legacy engineered by Nick Saban.
Nick Saban improved to 12-0 against his former assisatnt coaches after his win against Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs and is now tied with the late, great Bear Bryant at 6 National Titles. The SEC also reiterated its dominance, which was questioned after the recent success by several ACC programs, as they went 5-6 during the 2017-18 bowl season.