Winning back-to-back national college football championships is really hard to do. The sheer turnover of players as they go through their college careers – many times not completing the traditional four years – means that keeping a consistent roster is difficult.
The transfer portal is also so much busier these days, there is intense competition for players, making the NCAA supposedly more evenly balanced in terms of talent. But somehow the Georgia Bulldogs have won the last two championship games – and the wise money and top college football bets – have a three-peat on the cards.
With the regular season drawing to a close, it does seem as if the Bulldogs will be the ones to beat once again. But only the Minnesota Golden Gophers can claim to have won three major college football national championships in a row – and that was back in the 1930s. Could Georgia go all the way again this year? Or will one of the other big programs change things up this season?
Before we look at whether Georgia can win yet another national championship, let’s take a look back at how this program has dominated college football in recent years. It took the Bulldogs until 1980 to win their first national championship. Even the successful years under Mark Richt at the beginning of the 2000s only brought a few conference titles. But everything changed when Kirby Smart took over as head coach.
A SEC title in his second year set off an unprecedented period of success. In the last six years, Georgia has only lost five conference games – and none at all in the last two seasons. Last year the Bulldogs went completely unbeaten throughout the year and then routed TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship, beating the Horned Frogs 65-7.
That victory followed the 33-18 win over Alabama the year before and announced this Georgia team as one for the ages. Before the season started at the beginning of September, most pundits and journalists had the Bulldogs to win a third straight title and not many have changed their minds since.
Losing Players? No Problem!
Georgia had ten of its players drafted into the NFL this year. Three of those went in the first round. Possibly more importantly, quarterback Stetson Bennett became a Los Angeles Ram after being drafted in the fourth round and 128th overall. But those figures may explain just why Georgia has been so successful in recent years.
This is a program that has won back-to-back national championships, yet the number one pick overall didn’t come from the team. Yes, there were a number of key departures for head coach Kirby Smart to deal with, but it is the collective team spirit that seems to have won the titles in the last few years.
Georgia is able to recruit the cream of the crop in the Atlanta Metro area but it generally brings in players that are not as highly rated as some that go to other schools. But they then up their game in their time at Georgia and come together to deliver wins – lots of wins.
It seems strange to mention that it hasn’t been an incredible season so far for Georgia. At the time of writing, the Bulldogs are 8-0 and have just won their 25th straight game. But the caliber of opponent has not been up to much. The injury to star tight end Brock Bowers also raised some questions.
But the 43-20 win over the Florida Gators in week eight was a real statement victory. This team can win without its best players and now, more importantly, have a culture of winning. These players literally don’t know what it is like to come off the field defeated. The rest of the regular season will be tough but Georgia should make it to at least the SEC Championship game.
Challenge from the West
Could the Bulldogs be brought down to size before even playing in the college playoffs though? Georgia has been number one in the coach’s and AP polls since the beginning of the season but a SEC championship game loss could make a difference.
LSU was the opponent last year but it is more likely to be Alabama again this time around. Revenge will be on the minds of all the Crimson Tide players and it should be an enthralling game. Even a loss might not dissuade the playoff committee from putting Georgia in the top four – but a loss could be a huge psychological blow.
Alabama could pose Georgia a problem
So, who else might be able to take Georgia’s crown? Michigan has not claimed a national championship since 1997, before the playoff system was introduced. But an undefeated season (so far) has a lot of people getting behind the Wolverines. A low level of opposition doesn’t help their case though.
Ohio State has continued to rely on its defense to win games this season, without being able to look to a dominant offense. If the Buckeyes o-line can step up, they could push Georgia as well. Alabama could end up being a thorn in Georgia’s side but not a team that wins a championship, while Florida State is looking good without getting people behind them.
So, is it inevitable that Georgia win the national championship game once again? Not exactly. The Bulldogs definitely haven’t been as dominant as in the last two years – and Carson Beck is nowhere near as consistent as Stetson Bennett. But how can you argue against this team?
That same team spirit is still there and opponents are forced to raise their game when they face Georgia. It will be a close run thing, but we could be gearing up to the Bulldogs making history this season.