Zamir White and James Cook had the cooler in hand. They were ready to cover their head coach at Gatorade after beating Michigan 34-11 to win the Orange Bowl and advance to the National Championship game.
But Kirby Smart had other ideas. Of course, he didn’t want to be covered in the sticky energy drink. But he also knew that this victory did not deserve this moment.
“Yeah, I wanted to take a real shower, not a Gatorade bath, because I want to focus on Alabama,” Smart said. “They were five or six hours early. To be honest with you guys, I’m not interested in celebrating this. We will come back to that win and it will be great, but we are focused on the task ahead, and that is the goal and that is what our guys – they worked hard for three to four weeks to get this opportunity. , and that was a one-game season, and now it’s another one-game season.
It all happened so fast that Cook couldn’t even figure out what had happened. He just knew he had to put the cooler down and go.
As the confetti fell, We are the champions was playing at Hard Rock Stadium. For most teams it would be a crowning moment. Those who remember Georgia-Oklahoma probably remember a much more festive atmosphere after the thrilling victory.
Smart and the Georgia squad didn’t give a damn. Not with Alabama already getting to work on a rematch.
“There is definitely one more game,” said linebacker Nakobe Dean. “The champions not at all. Work not finished. We haven’t done everything we’ve done all season just to win the Orange Bowl. The work is not done.
Hours before Georgia trampled Michigan, Alabama similarly passed Cincinnati. The Crimson Tide rose early against the Bearcats and smothered college football’s last undefeated team in the final quarters. Brian Robinson ran for 204 yards in the win, while Bryce Young scored three touchdowns in the 27-6 win.
This will be the second time Georgia and Alabama meet this season. This will be the second time the two schools have met in the national championship game since Smart became the head coach of the Georgia program.
Those last two previous results were both losses for Georgia, as has been the case the last seven times Georgia and Alabama have played. The national championship loss was a heartbreaking 26-23, with Tua Tagovialoa throwing a 41-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the game to DeVonta Smith. The most recent loss was a 41-24 beating, with Alabama lighting up the Georgian defense in a way it hasn’t been this season.
Many wondered how Georgia would react after their first loss of the season. The Bulldogs responded categorically to that in the first half, with Georgia leading 27-3. Stetson Bennett delivered his best game as a Bulldog, throwing for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns.
For him, the game against Michigan was just to get another chance at Alabama, an opponent who perhaps defined him more than any member of the Georgian program.
“For us to get together after all the hours and all the off-season work and fall camp and just the season’s work and be able to give ourselves a chance to go to a national championship, that’s pretty special,” Bennett said. “But like Coach said, this game was just so we could play the next game.”
There will be a lot of talk about what Georgia can do differently when the two teams meet on January 10 in Indianapolis. Alabama won’t have wide receiver John Metchie or cornerback Josh Jobe in the rematch, with both playing key roles in the 41-24 win.
The Bulldogs are also hoping that a healthier Chris Smith and a better defensive plan will help limit the Crimson Tide. After Smart downplays the importance of a shoulder injury that Brock Bowers faced, the Bulldogs appear to be as healthy as they have been all season.
When Alabama and Georgia met in Atlanta on December 4, the Crimson Tide played their best game of the season. Georgia played its worst. The Bulldogs responded with perhaps their best performance of all season against what had been a deserving Michigan team.
If the Bulldogs look like they did on Friday, Georgia could finally give Smart that Gatorade swim.
“At the end of the day, we’re playing a new game, a new team. The past hasn’t affected us, ”said defensive tackle Jordan Davis. “We just have to make sure we keep moving forward in the future. The past is history, but the mystery of the future.
Jordan Davis ready for Alabama rematch