The 2018 National Championship Game will be played Jan. 8 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Georgia punched a ticket to the title game by beating Oklahoma. Alabama beat Clemson.
Below find the score and live updates for the National Championship Game.
The heartbreaker of heartbreakers
Georgia falls in overtime in the national championship, as Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa hits DaVonta Smith for a 41-yard toucchdown in overtime. Final: Alabama 26, Georgia 23.
It was Smith’s first catch of the game.
Georgia got the ball first in overtime. A sack on third down, for a loss of 13 yards back to the 34, forced Georgia to try a long field goal.
But Rodrigo Blankenship made it.
Then Alabama tried a pass, and Tagovailoa was chased way, way back to the 41.
Then came the play that will be long remembered and rued among Georgia fans. The streamers came down. Georgia players walked off the field in stunned silence.
Georgia has life again. Alabama’s field goal attempt is shanked to the left, and the game isn’t over.
Alabama played it conservative, running clock and playing for the field goal. That seemed risky, considering its kicker missed a 40-yarder earlier in the day, and Lorenzo Carter has been blocking a lot of field goals lately.
It wasn’t Carter this time, but maybe his presence was in the kicker’s mind. Either way, here we go again to overtime.
Georgia goes three-and-out
Jake Fromm’s third down magic didn’t continue on this key drive. He missed a wide-open D’Andre Swift on a pass towards the sideline, and Georgia punts on fourth-and-3.
Alabama takes over at its own 36 with 2:55 left. The tension in this arena is thick. The nervousness on the Georgia side is … well, understandable.
And just like that …
It’s a tie game.
Alabama has rallied to tie it, and dramatically so, on a fourth-down touchdown pass. Tua Tagovailoa scrambles and finds Calvin Ridley in the end zone from 7 yards out.
Alabama moved downfield with a set of big intermediate plays: Damien Harris on a catch-and-run. A pass interference call against Malkom Parrish that moved the ball 15 yards and converted a third down. Then a 20-yard pass down to the Georgia 13.
But a third-down stuff by the Georgia defense forced a fourth-and-4. Alabama elected to go for it, but had to call timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty.
Now we see what Jake Fromm and Georgia can do.
It was that close for Dom Sanders
The senior safety almost broke the school record for interceptions. But he couldn’t quite gain control of the ball before he got out of bounds.
It was close, but looked like the correct call.
It also might have sealed the game for Georgia. As it is, a subsequent field goal makes it a one-score game, and Georgia leads 20-13 with plenty of time (9:24) to go.
The All-American linebacker shows why he’s so great, and so integral to this team’s success: On third-and-3, Alabama tries a quick out pass to the tailback. But Smith, an inside linebacker keep in mind, was on top of the play and stopped the play well short of a first down marker.
Alabama has to punt, rather than another set of downs near midfield.
And we move on to the fourth quarter, Georgia 15 minutes away from a national championship.
And then …
Alabama’s not done yet. Jake Fromm throws a pass off a helmet that’s grabbed out of the air by a big Raekwon Davis. He rumbles down to the Georgia 40.
Still a lot of time left in this game, especially if these quick changes keep happening.
UPDATE: Alabama has to settle for the field goal try. It’s good, and Georgia’s lead is down to 20-10. But feels like a moral victory for Georgia there.
Deandre Baker with the pick
Two plays have quickly changed the complexion of this game again. First the Fromm pass to Hardman, and now a big play on defense.
Deandre Baker makes a leaping interception of a short Tua Tagovailoa, and Georgia takes over at the Alabama 39, with a chance to add to its 20-7 lead.
Jake Fromm … wow
Another third down. Another great throw. This time as great as Fromm has made, especially considering the stage.
Fromm hits Mecole Hardman on a deep sideline pattern, and Hardman runs it in for an 80-yard touchdown. It’s the needed answer, and the Bulldogs are back up by 13 points.
Fromm is becoming a Georgia legend in this game. He’s also making quite a national name for himself.
And it’s a ballgame again.
Tua Tagovailoa has provided the needed spark, moving the Crimson Tide downfield and throwing for a touchdown pass. It’s a six-point game.
The key play was rather obvious: Tagovailoa was about to be sacked on third down, but he ran out of a swarm of defenders, went to the other side of the field and dove for a first down. But he could pass the ball too.
Tagovailoa is 5-for-6 for 46 yards. Jalen Hurts was 3-for-8 for 21 yards.
Tyler Simmons offsides call
Simmons sure looked like he didn’t jump across the line before his blocked punt. It seemed like Simmons got the perfect jump on the play, not going across until the ball was snapped.
But a flag was thrown nonetheless. That negated what might have been a back-breaking play.
The first sign I thought the Crimson Tide already realized they needed a spark was the second-half kickoff: Josh Jacobs fielded it deep but ran it out. Hey, gotta try something. He was tackled at the 23.
But then came the next-biggest sign: A quarterback change few saw coming. Freshman Tua Tagovailoa went in for the struggling Jalen Hurts.
The result was another three-and-out. Nothing Alabama is trying is working right now.
Halftime analysis: Seven thoughts
1. Georgia is 30 minutes away from a national title. Let’s leave that as the opening thought and go from there.
2. A game that was already tilting in Georgia’s direction now feels lopsided after the late touchdown. The way things are going when Alabama has the ball, a 13-point lead seems huge. Not insurmountable. But huge.
3. Georgia got another huge momentum-shifting play early: The missed field goal, after the false start negated the made one. Much like in this building when Davin Bellamy’s strip-sack turned stopped Auburn’s momentum. And the squib kick and Rodrigo Blankenship field goal gave Georgia momentum heading into halftime of the Rose Bowl. But getting a momentum-turning play is one thing, actually doing something with it is another, and Georgia keeps doing it.
4. What a dominating first half for the Georgia defense: Alabama has just 95 yards and has been shut out on the scoreboard. The only thing working for Alabama are Jalen Hurts runs – he has basically half of his team’s yardage on the ground – but the traditional run game isn’t working, and neither is the passing game.
5. Georgia’s offense has also gotten better as the game went on, and clutch: 6-for-11 on third downs, including the Sony Michel 26-yard run on third-and-20 that sparked it all.
6. Jake Fromm has been a big part of that clutch, hitting on key third downs. He’s also had a lot of time to pass, so big credit to the offensive line for its pass protection so far. There have been two sacks, but for the most part Fromm has had time to scan the field on third downs.
7. Alabama is also playing sloppy. It’s been whistled for five penalties, and doesn’t look very disciplined on those third down plays. (Yes, I’m using the term third down a lot.)
Final thought: Nick Saban is going to rip into his reeling team, and he and his staff are going to make adjustments. Georgia has to be ready for them. Alabama does get the ball to start the second half. But Georgia has a huge cushion with which to work with here, it seems, riding a dominant defense and a clutch offense, along with a special teams that continues to not make mistakes. This isn’t a done deal, but boy does it look like Georgia is close.
Calvin Ridley’s little brother is having by far the better game so far: Riley Ridley has four catches for 62 yards, which is already a season high. He entered the game with only eight catches this season.
Calvin Ridley has been held to one catch for 9 yards.
Ridley may keep getting looks, as Javon Wims went to the locker room with a so far undisclosed injury.
Georgia adds another Rodrigo Blankenship field goal, this time a 27-yard chip shot, and UGA takes a 6-0 lead.
Big third-down conversions by Georgia are becoming the story of this game. First there was Sony Michel’s toe-tapping 26-yarder to set up a field goal. Then came two more on this scoring drive:
– Fromm had forever to throw, giving Ridley enough time to get open in the flat. Fromm hit him and Ridley ran for a 23-yard gain.
– Then on third-and-6 Javon Wims made a great sideline grab while getting his foot in bounds. That set up Georgia at the 10.
The Bulldogs are 4-for-8 on third downs, and they’ve converted some long yardage third downs.
The early trend
Alabama can’t run the ball like it usually does.
Jalen Hurts is leading the Tide with 22 yards on four rushes, while the three tailbacks have combined for 18 yards on six carries. Take out a 12-yard scramble by Hurts, and Alabama is averaging 3.1 yards per carry.
Georgia isn’t doing that much better; Take out Sony Michel’s 26-yard run and UGA (not counting sacks) has 22 yards on eight carries. But that 26-yarder was pretty big.
David Marshall suffers injury
Georgia sophomore defensive lineman David Marshall was down for about a minute as trainers helped him, but then he ran off the field on his own power.
Georgia strikes first
Rodrigo Blankenship punches it in from 41 yards out, and the Bulldogs have a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter.
That came on the same side of the field that Alabama missed a 40-yard field goal. So there’s the difference so far.
Possibly unimportant note, but a note nonetheless: Georgia has scored in the first quarter of all but two games this year, and both were in this building. It didn’t score against Auburn in the first quarter of the SEC championship. And we know how that turned out.
Sony Michel, sideline stepping
It looked like Georgia was playing the field position game, but when you give it to Sony Michel you never know.
Michel took an inside handoff on third-and-20, and after taking a quick look up the middle he cut to the right sideline – where he had room. He straddled the sideline, so close that a review had to confirm he didn’t step out of bounds. By the time he finally went out he had converted not only the first down, but gone 26 yards down to the Alabama 26.
So that went from Georgia punting near midfield to getting in at least field goal territory.
Another team-of-destiny type play.
Not a term we use much. Through two series, the Bulldogs have yet to run the ball. They’ve passed it seven times.
The results have been … mixed. Jake Fromm did hit Terry Godwin on a 14-yard slant pass, but Javon Wims dropped a pass, and he also couldn’t hold onto the ball that was picked off to end the first drive.
I’m guessing Kirby Smart and Jim Chaney saw something on film they felt they could expose, and are trying to stretch the Alabama defense to set up the run. We all know it’s coming.
Another team of destiny moment?
Georgia’s defense bends but then holds tight in the red zone, and then a mistake leads to points coming off the board for Alabama.
Andy Pappanastos made a 35-yard field goal. But a false start pushed it back five yards, and this time it was wide left.
Zero points for Alabama, and a momentum shifter for Georgia. The kind of things that happen when you’re a team of destiny. (OK it’s still early, but this kind of thing has been happening all season.)
Alabama gets the first turnover of the game, three plays into it.
Javon Wims bobbled a deep pass on third down, and it cost Georgia: Tony Brown wrestled the ball away before Wims could do anything about it.
The Crimson Tide take over at their own 36.
Definitely more Georgia fans, it’s hard to tell the ratio for sure because of the similarity in colors.
But if I had to guess, I’d say it’s between 60-70 percent pro-Georgia.
Georgia-Alabama football score: Live updates for the 2018 National Championship Game
Georgia-Alabama football: Date for the 2018 National Championship Game
The 2018 National Championship Game for the the College Football Playoff will be played on Monday, Jan. 8.
Georgia-Alabama football: Time for the 2018 National Championship Game
The 2018 National Championship Game is set for 8 p.m. The game will be played in Atlanta.
Georgia-Alabama football: TV channel for the 2018 National Championship Game
The 2018 National Championship Game for the College Football Playoff will air on ESPN.
Georgia-Alabama football: Preview for the 2018 National Championship Game
It will be an All-SEC battle for the championship as No. 3 Georgia takes on No. 4 Alabama. The game has a number of intriguing subplots.
For one, the game will match Nick Saban against his former defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart. The now-Georgia coach worked with Saban at Alabama from 2008-15. Saban has never lost to one of his former assistants; the Alabama coach is 11-0 in such games. And each one of those games has been at least a 14-point Alabama victory.
The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs took two very different paths to get here. Both teams got off to great starts but both had regular-season losses to Auburn. Georgia picked up victories over Notre Dame and Mississippi State and cruised to big wins in every game, sans the Auburn loss. But the Bulldogs got their revenge in the SEC Championship Game, beating Auburn 28-7. Then Georgia rallied to beat Oklahoma in a thrilling, double-overtime contest in the Rose Bowl.
The Bulldogs will be looking to win their first national title since 1980, back when Herschel Walker carried the load for the Bulldogs. This Georgia team also is led by running backs, in this case Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Each rushed for more than 1,000 yards and at least 15 touchdowns on the season. At quarterback, Georgia freshman Jake Fromm will look to do something that Alabama starter Jalen Hurts could not do a year ago: win a national title as a true freshman, something that has only been done once.
The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, dropped their final game of the regular season and had to sweat out whether it would them or Big Ten-champion Ohio State to capture the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff. In one CFP semifinal, No. 4 Georgia dominated Clemson, the No. 1-ranked, defending national champs. The Tigers had their worst offensive output of the season as they mustered just 6 points against a now healthy and stout Alabama defense.
The last time two teams from the same conference met in the national title game was following the 2011 season, when Alabama took down LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama will be looking to win its fifth title since Saban took over the program in 2007.