Sedrick Van Pran (left) and Chris Smith of the Georgia Bulldogs raise the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy after beating the TCU Horned Frogs 65-7 on Monday, January 9, 2023 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The Georgia Bulldogs are once again the kings of college football. Monday night in what felt more like a regular season game at Sanford Stadium, the Bulldogs defeated Texas Christian University (TCU) 65-7 for a consecutive national championship.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart lifts the College Football Playoff National Championship trophy after the Bulldogs defeated the TCU Horned Frogs 65-7 at SoFi Stadium on Monday, January 9, 2023 at in Inglewood, Calif. Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

The Bulldogs, the Southeastern Conference champions, could not have played much better Monday night and head coach Kirby Smart might have summed up the dominant performance with a simple phrase. “We have a saying around our place, we eat off the floor,” he said during the post game press conference. “If you’re willing to eat off the floor you can be special.”

The Bulldogs were indeed special on this night.

Scoring at will

Georgia managed to score virtually at will. At no time during this season’s first 14 games has that happened and the red and black not win the game. The same could be said for tonight where the reigning national champions dominated the game from start to finish. And the word “dominated” might be an understatement in this case. Georgia obliterated their opponents from Fort Worth, Texas as University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, champion boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. watched from their respective luxury boxes inside SoFi Stadium.

Georgia sophomore wide receiver Ladd McConkey catches a 37-yard pass in the first quarter to put Georgia ahead 17-7 on Monday, January 9, 2023 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Start to finish

Georgia’s first possession ended in a touchdown run from senior quarterback Stetson Bennett (The offensive most valuable player after passing for 304 yards, four touchdowns and running for a pair of rushing touchdowns) and included a pair of receptions by tight end Brock Bowers. One of the things that stood out during Georgia’s Peach Bowl victory over Ohio State at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last week was how little Bowers, arguably the best tight end in the country, had been targeted. On the Bulldogs second possession of the game Bowers even ran the ball for five yards. That drive ended in a field goal to put Georgia ahead 10-0.

The third possession would be a touchdown drive, but this time it was a Bennett pass to receiver Ladd McConkey for 37 yards that did the trick and gave the Bulldogs back their 10-point advantage after TCU managed to score a touchdown courtesy of a Max Duggan (14-22 for 152 yards and two interceptions) rush a few moments earlier. After the game Duggan said he and his teammates would look back on the season fondly despite the outcome. “Tonight isn’t going to take away from this season and what we were able to do with this program,” he said. “This program is moving in the right direction and the right way.”

What was once a close game got out of hand a bit as Georgia pulled ahead 24-7 after Bennett’s second touchdown run of the first half. In between scores Bulldogs rushing leader and senior running back Kenny McIntosh, junior Kendal Milton and junior Daijun Edwards did their best to help consistently move the Bulldogs down the field.

With less than two minutes to play in the first half another Bennett to Bowers connection, this one for 24 yards, put the Bulldogs deep in TCU territory at the 12 yard line. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart called a timeout and when the Bulldogs came back onto the field Milton would score his first touchdown of the game to give Georgia a 31-7 lead following a successful extra point attempt. This game was never close.

With less than a minute remaining in the first half Georgia got the ball back following another TCU turnover (See: Defense, defense below) and turned that opportunity into a touchdown catch for sophomore receiver Arian Smith, one of the heroes of the Peach Bowl. The Bulldogs went into halftime with a 38-7 lead and the ball to start the second half.

And the hits kept coming. Bowers caught his first touchdown of the game on a 22-yard pass from Bennett on the Bulldogs first possession of the third quarter.

Defense, defense

The calling card for the Bulldogs all season has been the defense and despite losing 15 starters from last year’s team there hasn’t been a let down this season. Against TCU the defense allowed only a single touchdown during the first half and that was early in the game. “I thought our defense really performed well tonight with their backs against the wall,” Smart said.

Sophomore defensive back Javon Bullard had a pair of first half interceptions, the second coming late in the second quarter and gave Georgia the ballin TCU territory. Asked if he had ever played a better overall game, Bullard said, “I can’t really answer that until I look at the tape. It’s a blessing to be speaking in front of you all tonight.”

Sacks from sophomore Smael Mondon and freshman Mykel Williams helped put a stop to TCU drives in the first quarter. Freshman nose guard Bear Alexander earned his first sack of the game on a third down early in the third quarter.

TCU only managed to have five first downs during the first half while Heisman runner-up Max Duggan passed for just 97 yards.

During the postgame press conference Smart credited the Bulldogs scout team for preparing the offense for this game. “That set our offense up for success,” he said.

Tight End U

You would be hard pressed to find a college football team with a better tight end room than Georgia. Bowers (seven receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown) and junior Darnell Washington routinely give the Bulldogs mismatches for Bennett to exploit. Washington caught his first and only pass of the game with a little over four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Washington’s role as a blocker is what will most likely see him selected in the 2023 National Football League Draft if he chooses to enter.

That 27-yard reception led to a 14-yard touchdown catch for McConkey, his second of the game. Upon catching the ball and putting Georgia ahead 52-7 he waved goodbye to the crowd. TCU had not been behind by seven touchdowns all season.

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett celebrates winning the College Football Playoff National Championship after his team beat the TCU Horned Frogs 65-7 at SoFi Stadium on Monday, January 9, 2023 in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Taking advantage of the moment

Senior kick-return/receiver Kearis Jackson caught his first pass of the game at the start of the fourth quarter. The 20-yard gain put the Bulldogs on the TCU 25 yard line.

Sophomore cornerback Kamari Lassiter had to play behind a number of high level upperclassmen last season, but this year he has made the most of his championship opportunity. Lassiter laid a couple of big hits during the game, including during the first and third quarters.

Freshman running back Branson Robinson’s (seven carries for 42 yards and two touchdowns) first touchdown of the game on a three-yard run put Georgia up 59-7 early in the fourth quarter. He would score again in the fourth quarter.

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett lifts the College Football Playoff National Championship after his team defeated the TCU Horned Frogs 65-7 at SoFi Stadium on Monday, January 9, 2023 at in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Where to next year:

The 2024 national championship game will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The 2025 game will make its way to SEC country at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...