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Game Day: Admiring Georgia’s greatness

Editor’s note: This is the Tuesday, January 10, edition of the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

Good morning. Has Georgia stopped scoring yet? The Bulldogs won college football’s national championship last night at SoFi Stadium in as convincing a performance as you’ll ever see in an event of such consequence.

In other sports news:

The Chargers get ready to open the playoffs in Jacksonville on Saturday.
The Rams faced questions about coach Sean McVay’s future and heard quarterback Matthew Stafford say he’ll play on.
Reggie Bush has been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, the 35th USC player so honored.
The Lakers rested LeBron James and lost in Denver, but they got encouraging news about Anthony Davis’ recovery from a foot injury.
Gareth Bale retired from soccer, capping his career with LAFC’s MLS Cup win and Wales’ first World Cup appearance in 64 years.
The Angels added outfield depth by signing Brett Phillips to a one-year deal.
Kevin Fiala led the Kings again in a win over the Oilers.
Ducks forward Justin Kirkland was hospitalized after a car accident on his way to Sunday’s game.

As much as I enjoy a close game or an underdog winning, I like to see excellence and a no-doubt-about-it champion even more. With Georgia leading Texas Christian University by a Secretariat-like 31 points at halftime, I didn’t switch to the Lakers. I rooted for Stetson Bennett and the Bulldogs to make it 60.

They could have done that if coach Kirby Smart hadn’t chosen to take Bennett out of the game early in the fourth quarter and order the backup quarterback to run out the clock with the ball in TCU territory.

After Georgia’s 65-7 victory was complete, our Adam Grosbard summed up the dominance of college football’s first repeat champions since Alabama in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

“The entire game was evidence of the behemoth that Georgia (15-0) has built,” Adam wrote. “The Bulldogs set a CFP title game record with 17 points in the first quarter, then did it again with a 38-point first half.

“Georgia scored on its first six drives. It outgained TCU 589-188. After a leaping 22-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, tight end Brock Bowers had more receiving yards (152) than TCU had total offense (126). Georgia had five sacks to TCU’s none.

“Georgia’s 65 points broke the record set by USC in 2004 for the most points scored in a national championship game, and the Bulldogs’ 58-point margin of victory made it the most lopsided national title game in college football history.”

Scott Reid saw Georgia as one thing to be sure of in a college football scene going through big changes, with playoffs soon to expand to 12 teams, USC and UCLA jumping on the conference-realignment merry-go-round, and name, image and likeness payments having unclear effects.

“For 60 convincing minutes Georgia provided a respite from uncertainty,” Reid writes in this morning’s Southern California News Group papers.

The only consolation for TCU is that the Horned Frogs’ underdog story had been so charming until last night, the victorious Bulldogs seemed eager to adopt it as their own.

Minutes after the game, Smart was on TV claiming Georgia had defied expectations.

“They didn’t listen to what everybody said about them,” Smart said of his players. “Everybody doubted them at the start of the (season), and that chip on the shoulder was just big enough to create an edge for our team.”

That’s absurd. Georgia began the season No. 3 in the Associated Press rankings and third in national championship betting with odds as low as +350, behind Alabama and Ohio State in both the poll and the wagering. That’s not “everybody doubted them” – that’s everybody thinks you’re a title contender and a lot of people think you’ll win it.

A coach should be proud to say: Expectations were high, and we lived up to them.

As Georgia alum Matthew Stafford of the Rams could attest, repeating as champions is hard.

Making it look easy in the end is the biggest achievement of all.

There were valid underdog angles last night, and both SCNG columnists explored them.

Jim Alexander reminded readers that Bennett began his Georgia career as a walk-on, took a detour to a junior college, and didn’t open the Bulldogs’ schedule as starting quarterback until this, his final college season.

“This was for the dreamers, for the grinders, for those who were always told they were too small, didn’t have a strong enough arm, or weren’t five-star enough to draw a recruiter’s eye,” Alexander wrote.

Mirjam Swanson watched TCU, which went 5-7 last season and didn’t break into the AP top 25 this seasonuntil October, and wondered if the national championship game would have been better with a more proven program challenging Georgia.

Swanson wrote that “the Bulldogs (15-0) coldly destroyed any hope that No. 3 TCU (13-2) might win a big one for the little guy, might prove an ultimate disruptor, might pull one last rabbit out of its helmet.”

It turns out that college football had seen enough disruption for one season. What it needed was a convincing champion. More than ever, it got that.

It was worth watching right to the end.

TODAY

Clippers try to avoid losing their seventh in a row and falling below .500 when they visit Dallas (7:30 p.m., BSSC). Clippers update.

NEXT QUESTION

Where do you place USC in the college football national-title picture for next season after seeing the Trojans ranked No. 12 in the final AP poll and watching Georgia set a high standard by routing TCU in the championship game last night? Share your assessment by email (KModesti@scng.com) or on Twitter (@KevinModesti).

280 CHARACTERS

“What time do those Andy Griffith Show reruns start?” — Art Wilson (@Sham73) wondering whether to keep watching Georgia thump TCU.

1,000 WORDS

Twice as nice: It wasn’t yet halftime, but Georgia receiver Adonai Mitchell could already tell the crowd at SoFi Stadium that the Bulldogs were on their way to their second national championship in a row after his 22-yard touchdown catch put them ahead of TCU 38-7. Photo is by Will Lester of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and SCNG.

LET’S TALK

Thanks for reading the newsletter. Send suggestions, comments and questions by email at KModesti@scng.com and via Twitter @KevinModesti.

Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

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