Posted: 7:06 pm Monday, January 8th, 2018
By Jay Black
WSB Sports Director Jay Black blogging live from the UGA Radio Booth at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. So check back often for news and notes during the National Championship Game.
12:11 — FINAL SCORE: Alabama 26, Georgia 23 in OT. The Crimson Tide are national champions again.
12:10 — Touchdown Alabama: Smith catches a 41 yard pass for the win. Alabama wins the national championship.
12:08 — FIELD GOAL GEORGIA: Blankenship with a 52 yarder. Georgia leads 23-20. Bama ball.
12:05 — Bama wins the toss and will play defense first. Just like last week.
12:03 — Last overtime in National Championship was 2003 when Miami beat Ohio State.
12:01 — END OF FOURTH QUARTER: Georgia 20, Alabama 20
12:00 — Pappanastos misses the 36 yard field goal. We go to overtime.
11:48 — Georgia goes 3 and out quickly. Bama gets the ball after the punt at its 35 yard line with 2:55 left.
11:44 — Touchdown Alabama: Tagovailoa hits Ridley with a 7 yard pass. It’s 20-20 with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.
11:36 — Bama rush yards by quarter: 36, 37, 43, 53
11:27 — Field goal Alabama: Pappanastos hits a 30 yarder. Georgia leads 20-13 with 9:24 left in the fourth quarter.
11:22 — Najee Harris is now Bama’s leading rusher for the game. He has 3 carries for 53 yards and all on this drive.
11:14 — Georgia’s first drive of the fourth quarter bogs down near midfield with Bama’s 10 TFL and third sack of the night. Tide ball after a punt at its 17. 11:39 left.
11:04 — That 16 yard run by Scarborough was the first of over six yards for a Bama RB today.
11:02 — Riley Ridley had 8 catches on the season before this game. He has five today.
10:57 — Field goal Alabama: Pappanastos hits a 43 yarder. Georgia leads 20-10 with 5:15 left in the third quarter.
10:53 — And right after the interception, Fromm throws one right back to Bama. It’s the first time Fromm has throw two interceptions in a game this season.
10:52 — That was Deandre Baker’s 3rd pick of the season.
10:46 — TOUCHDOWN GEORGIA: Fromm hits Hardman for an 80 yard pass. It’s Georgia’s longest play of the season. UGA leads 20-7 with 6:52 left in third quarter.
10:40 — Poor decision by Hardman to bring it out of the endzone. UGA ball at their 7. Momentum shifting.
10:35 — Touchdown Alabama: Tagovailoa hits Ruggs on a six yard pass. It’s 13-7 Georgia with 8:52 left in the third quarter.
10:28 — Alabama has no problems with UGA on the Dawgs first drive, forcing a 3 and out. Bama ball after punt at its 44.
10:26 — Saban’s decision to bring in his backup QB Tagovailoa is going to be brilliant or just desperate. So far it’s desperate. He has played in 8 games this season, but hasn’t faced an SEC team since Tennessee in October.
10:22 – Alabama brings in backup QB Tagovailoa to start 2nd half.
9:52 –HALFTIME: Georgia 13, Alabama 0 — Instant analysis: I was not included in Kirby Smart’s game plan sessions this week, but I have a feeling this is a pretty much what they had in mind. It’s pretty hard to have a perfect performance against Alabama, so the Dawgs are certainly making mistakes, but they are doing a lot right.
First and foremost, UGA is keeping the ball out of Alabama’s hands. Time of possession is almost doubled up. Georgia leads 19:23 to 10:37. That stat doesn’t mean much in most college football games, but in a game like there, it can mean a whole lot. The big reason for that is UGA’s conversions on third and long. The Dawgs are 5-for-8 on third and 6 or more. The big ones have been runs by Sony Michel who has picked up first downs on 3rd and 20 and 3rd and 10.
That’s a pretty good formula, especially in the second quarter where the Dawgs outgained Bama 159-41.
UGA’s defense is not fooled by pretty much anything. Alabama had 47 yards on its first drive and has had 47 yards since then. The Tide had three first downs on its first drive and one since. UGA has done exactly what it wants to do with Jalen Hurts. Says he’s Alabama’s leading rusher with 47 yards on six carries, including a 31 yard run. But he has not taken over this game. His passing numbers are very weak, going 3-for-8 for 21 yards.
Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough have been non factors, combining for 19 yards on six carries.
Alabama has not been shutout in the first half since LSU did it last year. But the Tide won that game 10-0. So we have a long way to go.
9:50 — TOUCHDOWN GEORGIA: Hardman with a 1 yard TD run. Georgia leads 13-0 with 7 seconds left in the half.
9:40 — Georgia forces its third 3 and out. Bama punts back to the UGA 31 with 1:19 left in half.
9:38 — QB COMPARISON: Fromm 9-for-19 100 yards, Hurts 2-for-6 17 yards.
9:32 — Alabama’s drive bogs down at midfield. Good punt by Scott pins UGA at its own 5 with 5:14 to go in half.
9:28 — Time of possession: UGA 15:11, Bama 7:16
9:27 — FIELD GOAL GEORGIA: Blankenship hits a 27 yarder. Georgia leads 6-0 with 7:33 left in the half.
9:17 — This is the first time Alabama has been shutout in the first quarter this year. The last team to do it was Chattanooga in 2016.
9:14 — Average third down distance: Alabama 6.3, Georgia 11.6
9:06 — UGA held the ball 7:40 which is its longest scoring drive this season.
9:03 — FIELD GOAL GEORGIA: Blankenship hits a 41 yarder. UGA leads 3-0 with 14:14 left in the first half.
8:58 — END OF FIRST QUARTER: Georgia 0, Alabama 0 — Instant analysis: Well this is kind of gone like we expected, points will be hard to come by. Georgia opened this game with seven straight runs, which I have a feeling is a first this season. It didn’t go all that well. Jim Chaney followed that up with six straight runs. So at least UGA is keeping it balanced. By far the highlight is Sony Michel’s 26 yard run on 3rd and 20 to keep this current drive alive. But obvioulsy Alabama’s defense is as expected. Jake Fromm is off to a rough start 4-for-9 for 30 yards with a pick and has been sacked twice.
UGA did catch a break with Alabama missing its first field goal, but the Dawgs defense can play too. UGA has held Bama to 53 yards so far. So UGA has an 11 yard advantage there.
Points are precious tonight for the title.
8:53 – Sony Michel picks up a first down on a run on 3rd and 20.
8:50 — Georgia started the game with 7 straight passes…and follows with 6 straight runs.
8:43 — Ledbetter and Clark gobble up Hurts on a 3rd down run. Bama goes 3 and out. Punt down to UGA 21.
8:37 — Georgia has thrown seven straight passes to start this game. No runs. Second drive bogs down. Punt back to Alabama 20.
8:34 –Georgia’s first 1st down of the game is a slant from Fromm to Godwin.
8:32 –Bama misses a 40 yard field goal on its first possession. Pappanastos missed it. UGA ball at its 22.
8:23 — Interception by Bama on a bomb to Wims. Wims caught it but it was pulled away by Tony Brown. Bama ball at its 36.
8:21 — Play one is a lateral/swing pass to Chubb that Bama sniffs out for a loss of one.
8:16 — Alabama calls tails and wins the toss. They defer. UGA ball.
8:13 — Judging by the pregame performances by the bands and the roar when UGA was shown on the halo board, this is a big UGA crowd.
7:45 p.m. — Kirby Smart’s pregame interview on WSB. “These guys are ready to rock and roll. Got basically a home stands here. I want our guys to relax and go play.”