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Top Dawgs: National Championship Game edition
Heartbreak. Georgia’s 26-23 overtime loss to Alabama in the National Championship Game was pure heartbreak. I’ve always heard the best way to get over heartbreak is to stick to routine. Following each of Georgia’s other 14 games this season, I ranked the top-5 Bulldogs in the game. So for the sake of keeping a routine and trying to get over the heartbreak as soon as humanly possible — and that might be a while — here are the five-best Bulldogs from the National Championship Game:
5. Sony Michel — Michel was Georgia’s most productive back, rushing 14 times for 98 carries at 7.0 yards a pop. He was the only Georgia rusher ever able to create some daylight against the Alabama defense, and it probably would have behooved Smart to get Michel a few more touches in his final game with the Bulldogs.
4. Deandre Baker — As the season wore on, it became clear Baker is the best defensive back on the team, and he showed it against the Tide. Baker was charged with covering star Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley and did a standup job in that effort. He also snagged Georgia’s only interception of the game. Now we’ll have to wait and see whether Baker, a junior, decides to go pro or stick around Athens for one more shot at a national title.
3. Riley Ridley — After a solid showing his freshman year, Ridley was almost invisible as a sophomore, catching only 8 passes coming into Monday. But Jake Fromm kept dialing his number and Ridley kept answering. The sophomore finished the game with 6 catches for 82 yards. If this game was anything to go by, there’s a good chance Ridley replaces Javon Wims as Fromm’s top target next year.
2. Roquan Smith — If this was Smith’s final game with the Bulldogs, he got everything but the result right. The junior from Montezuma led all tacklers in the game with 13 total and 9 solo. He also chipped in with a sack and 1 1/2 tackles for loss. If by some twist of fate Smith decides to play his senior year for the Bulldogs, he could be the greatest defender in Georgia history. Hell, he may already be.
1. Rodrigo Blankenship — The offense couldn’t finish drives against Alabama, which left a lot of work for Blankenship. But the sophomore had a perfect National Championship Game, hitting all 3 of his fields goals, including a 51-yarder, and both of his extra points. It’s tough to think about these things in the wake of such a gut-wrenching loss, but when the smoke clears, I think most Georgia fans will realize they’ve got a weapon in Blankenship, and his performance in the College Football Playoff proved it.
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What Kirby Smart said
It may still hurt too much right now, but when you’re ready, you should head here and check out what Smart had to say postgame. This passage in particular should make you real proud to be a Bulldogs fan.
“Yeah, I don’t really know. I do know this, and I want to say this. The standard’s been set by these young men right here. I can’t put into words what these seniors mean. We’re running out of the tunnel [Monday], and this guy over here next to me, [Chubb] comes by me and says, ‘I’ll go anywhere with you,’ and ‘I’ll follow you anywhere,’ and ‘I’ll fight for you because I believe in you.’ And that meant more to me than anything. The way he practices, the way he’s in every meeting, the way he carries himself, the way Sony Michel affects players on our team, Isaiah Wynn, Roquan [Smith], all these guys have been incredible leaders. And if we have that kind of leadership, there’s no doubt. The sky’s the limit. Because these guys are hungry. I just hope the younger class doesn’t take it for granted that it’s just going to happen. You’ve got to make it happen, and they’ve got to believe that.”
Dawgs on Twitter
— Jake Reuse (@ReuseRecruiting) January 9, 2018
— AJC (@ajc) January 9, 2018
This is the hardest, cleanest hit I have seen in a while pic.twitter.com/6bK1mINhQ5
— Kent (@RealKentMurphy) January 9, 2018
Too bad the Georgia loss overshadowed arguably the greatest missed field goal dance of all time pic.twitter.com/pSN4307hBm
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) January 9, 2018
May this little nugget bless your day and help you move on to better things.
I NEED HIM pic.twitter.com/fecE6cg6vJ
— Puppy Pics (@CuteDogPlcs) January 8, 2018
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