Atlanta, January 9, 2018 — The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in overtime, 26-23, on Monday night in the college football national championship game.
Freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led the charge for Alabama after starter Jalen Hurts struggled throughout the first half. Alabama fell behind 20-7 in the second half before scoring 16 unanswered points to tie the game.
With 3 seconds left in regulation, Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it.
Rodrigo Blankenship took the lead back for Georgia in the first overtime by drilling a 51-yard field goal.
But Alabama answered with a touchdown on the second play of its possession to take the crown.
The victory gave Nick Saban his sixth title.
Georgia, meanwhile, fell short of a storybook ending. The Bulldogs reached the championship game after losing five games last season.
The game pitted two Southeastern Conference brethren with very different national title track records as of late.
While Saban’s Crimson Tide were playing in their third straight CFP title game, Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs were seeking the school’s first national title since the Herschel Walker-led 1980 squad.
No. 3 Georgia was the higher ranked of the two teams, the deck was stacked against them, if only because of Saban’s record against his previous assistants.
Saban went into the game 11-0 against his former disciples — a group that includes Smart, who coached under Saban both at LSU and for nine seasons at Alabama before leaving for Georgia at the end of the 2015 season.
The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide had to quiet doubters of their own after a 26-14 loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl left them with a 11-1 regular-season record and shut out of the SEC Championship Game. Instead, the semifinals saw them dominate defending national champ Clemson with a 24-6 Sugar Bowl victory that served as a rematch of last year’s title game.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs edged out the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners in their own semifinal game, rallying to win 54-48 in double-overtime at the Rose Bowl to improve to 13-1 on the season.
Monday night’s game marked the first time in the four years of the College Football Playoff that the national championship game matched two teams from the same conference. Alabama also was involved that last time that happened, when the Crimson Tide beat LSU 21-0 in the 2012 BCS title game.