Tua Tagovailoa, a freshman who was the nation's top-rated dual quarterback prospect past year, is now a College Football Playoff national champion after leading the Crimson Tide to a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia on Monday night.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa came in for Jalen Hurts when Alabama left the locker room for the second half, down by 13 points. That 26-23 overtime win over Georgia was nearly too much to process, even for Nick Saban, who when it was over actually sputtered "I've never been happier in my life". In came true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, a five-star recruit who had previously played only in blowouts in his rookie year. This season's CFP semifinals on January 1 and Monday night's championship game averaged more than 26.2 million viewers, up 21 percent from previous year. Fromm completed 16 of 32 passes for 232 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. A 43-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal trimmed the Georgia lead to 20-10 in the third quarter. It happened after the Crimson Tide found themselves in an unfamiliar position: all but written off. Hurts was just 3-of-8 passing for 21 yards in the first half while running for 47 yards. On their 20 three plays later, Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm launched a handsome, arching pass that Mecole Hardman run under without breaking stride for a dramatic, 80-yard touchdown to go up 20-7 and dramatically answer Alabama's score.
And in a game that was being played in the Black Mecca, in which the overwhelming majority of the players on both teams were black, we all waited to see if any player would take a knee.
Michel's wonderful 26-yard run on a third-and-20, where he tightroped down the sideline, kept alive Georgia's first scoring drive that ended with Blankenship's 41-yard field goal. This was a insane demolition derby, with tensions so high that one Tide player had to be restrained from going after an unidentified man on the sidelines and another player needed emergency personnel to cart him away with some kind of medical issue.
Where does Tagovailoa go from here?
Former Georgia defensive end David Pollack talked on ESPN after the game about how conservative the playcalling was by coordinator Jim Chaney in the second half.
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Georgia sacked Tagovailoa on third down on his first possession.
A 7-yard touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III capped off Tagovailoa's second drive for Alabama, and showed that Alabama meant business.
Alabama's defense gave Tagovailoa another chance.
For two years, Hurts helped continue Alabama's staggering rate of success in one of college football's greatest dynasties.
In a potentially precarious quarterback situation, what did Hurts tell Tagovailoa when the quarterback switch was made?
"He's built for stuff like this", he added.
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Saban did more than play Tagovailoa.
Hurts was interviewed by ESPN's Tom Rinaldi on the field after the game.
"Everybody realizes the sacrifices and the adversity that you had to overcome to do it and the hard work you put in to do it", Saban said. I just looked up and saw him wide open like that.
Unreal game. Unreal performance by a true freshman in the National Title game no less. But Saban took 13 fewer seasons to hit the mark, which will surely be a bullet point in the debate about coaching supremacy. He had already won five national championships.
Georgia's confidence soared even higher.
This isn't the most talented team Saban has had at Alabama - not by a long shot.
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