Georgia aims to be first team in CFP era to do this

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Following the best set of College Football Playoff semifinals ever, Georgia and TCU will head out west for the National Title game in SoFi stadium. The Bulldogs came back from multiple touchdowns to outlast the Buckeyes in one of the greatest games I’ve ever watched. And the Horned Frogs shocked the world by beating the Wolverines.

Most people outside Fort Worth believe Kirby Smart‘s team will come out of Monday as champions. Vegas oddsmakers don’t think it will be close, with spreads ranging from 12.5- to 13.5-points depending on the betting outlet. Now, TCU and Ohio State were touchdown underdogs in their respective semifinals, and we saw how those turned out. This one just feels a bit different, though.

For much of the game, the Bulldogs were outplayed by the Buckeyes, but when it mattered most, the Dawgs landed the biggest punches of the night. And now, Kirby Smart’s team is set to defend their National Championship, aiming to be the first team in the CFP era to win back-to-back titles. That’s right; no team has ever repeated in the CFP era.

Since the AP began in 1936, there have only been eight teams that have repeated as National Champions. Stetson Bennett could easily join elite company in less than a week. The most recent back-to-back champion was Nick Saban’s Alabama, who did it about a decade ago.

The Crimson Tide posted a 25-2 record over the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and those title games weren’t competitive at all. The Tide dominated LSU in the 2011 game after losing to the Tigers in the regular season, then stomped Notre Dame in the 2012 contest. But no team has won back-to-back titles in the College Football Playoff era despite a handful of opportunities to do so.

Since its inception, the College Football Playoff has only been won by five different programs — Ohio State, Alabama (3), Clemson (2), Georiga, and LSU. And there have been more than a couple of opportunities for teams to repeat. In fact, defending champions are a combined 0-4 when making it to the National Title game.

Alabama won it in the 2015 season and lost to Clemson in 2016. They won it again during the 2017 season but again fell to the Tigers from South Carolina the following season. Then, it was Clemson who won it in 2018 and failed to defend it against the Bayou Bengals from LSU in 2019. And once again, Nick Saban’s team won the title in the 2020 COVID season and fell to the Georgia Bulldogs in 2021.

This is arguably the most lopsided National Title game in the past 25 years, at least by betting spread standards. Georgia should waltz to another title, and Stetson Bennett will be heralded in Athens forever. Kirby Smart has built a machine, reminiscent of his mentor Nick Saban’s program in Tuscaloosa. After losing a record-breaking number of players to the draft following UGA’s first championship, the Dawgs have reloaded and are prime to do something no team has done in the CFP era.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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