ATLANTA — Georgia knows it is attempting to do something no team in the College Football Playoff has done in winning back-to-back national championships.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking Georgia is going to repeat as the top team in the country. Kirby Smart has reiterated plenty of times this season that this team is significantly different from the team that won it all last season.
“I knew the kind of year it would be,” Smart said. “It’s always a little tougher to bring everybody back to home base. It was much easier for us this year because we had so many players leave, and we had a hungrier young team.”
The Bulldogs had to replace 15 NFL draft picks and 13 players from the transfer portal. Georgia has also seen a handful of key contributors go down due to injury this season, such as star outside linebacker Nolan Smith.
Yet Georgia keeps chugging along. The Bulldogs are 13-0 on the season, winning 12 of those games by double digits. Only Missouri has been able to keep Georgia within one score this season.
Smart’s team will face another big test on Saturday as they play the Ohio State Buckeyes. Georgia is 5-0 against ranked teams this season but Smart knows the Buckeyes will be more than game on Saturday.
“Hard to answer that in terms of is it the best that we faced to date because we haven’t faced them,” Smart said. “When you look at them on tape, you certainly see the talent. It kind of oozes off the tape, especially the wideout, quarterback position. Two really good protectors. They’ve got talented players across the board.”
The Buckeyes are led by quarterback CJ Stroud, who Georgia knows well from the recruiting trail. Georgia finished as the runner-up to land Stroud in the 2020 recruiting cycle, with Smart flying across the country to visit Stroud in California.
Smart was an instrumental piece of the last team to repeat as national champions, as he was the defensive coordinator for Alabama when the Crimson Tide did it in 2011 and 2012.
He knows that in the fog of the season it can be easy to get wrapped up in the continued pursuit of a national title. That is why he’s brought up numerous examples of great programs stumbling, or in some cases collapsing completely.
In the preseason, Smart brought up how LSU went 5-5 after winning its first national championship in the College Football Playoff era. Georgia has clearly far exceed that this season, with the Bulldogs winning the SEC.
On Friday, Smart brought up how Georgia was not going to be the next Blockbuster.
“We have a couple in-house sports psychologists that we talked about how the mighty fall and some business structures, the Blockbuster model, and some different models where ego got the best of organizations in the business world to corporate world,” Smart said.
A win on Saturday would possibly move Georgia one step closer to becoming College Football’s Netflix.
Kirby Smart shares final thoughts on playing Ohio State in College Football Playoff
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