Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE BACK-TO-BACK NATIONAL-CHAMPION GEORGIA BULLDOGS
- Field goal
- End of game
If you wanted to see just how good Georgia is, you got it: The Bulldogs thumped TCU, 65-7, to win their second straight national title and become the first team to repeat since Alabama in 2011-12.
Georgia blew TCU off the ball from the get-go and never let up.
- After forcing a quick three-and-out, Georgia went 57 yards in five plays, with Stetson Bennett IV sprinting into the end zone from 21 yards out untouched. Still early, right? Wrong.
- Georgia went up 10-0 before Max Duggan cut it to 10-7. Here come the Horned Frogs, kings of the comeback, right? Wrong again.
- Georgia then went 70 yards in four plays, capped by Bennett hitting a wide-open Ladd McConkey from 37 yards out.
- If you still thought it was early, well... Georgia got a stop and then went 92 yards on 11 plays, punctuated by another Bennett rushing touchdown. And it just got uglier.
Georgia dominated in every single facet, shutting down an explosive TCU offense and annihilating an overmatched TCU defense. The numbers are, frankly, ridiculous.
- The 58-point margin was not just a title-game record but an FBS bowl-game record, too.
- Georgia out-gained TCU 589-188, the largest margin in a national title game.
- Bennett's six total touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) tied Joe Burrow (2020) for most in a national championship game.
- You can see all of the other records here.
What most stood out to me, though, was how ridiculously talented these Bulldogs were. Brock Bowers, held to "just" four catches for 64 yards in the semifinal, exploded for seven catches, 152 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Jalen Carter is a likely top-five pick this spring, but three of the Bulldogs' five sacks came from freshmen (Bear Alexander, Mykel Williams and Jalon Walker), and sophomore Javon Bullard became the first player to have two interceptions in a CFP championship.
Save for Carter, that incredibly talented group will have the Bulldogs focusing on a three-peat... if they can avoid one big thing, writes Chip Patterson.
- Patterson: "Smart, interestingly enough, thinks the loss of so many starters and key contributors made repeating easier than it will be to win the championship again next season. Smart argues that entitlement is the biggest culture killer, and with so many of this year's contributors back, he thinks avoiding that feeling of entitlement is going to be one of the biggest challenges for the 2023 season. "
I remember reading Dennis Dodd's piece hinting that Georgia had passed Alabama as the standard in college football back in November. Just over two months later, the Bulldogs somehow established a new standard for themselves... and for everyone else to chase.
As for everything else you need to read:
- Has Kirby Smart passed Nick Saban? Our Barrett Sallee has some thoughts.
- Who will replace Bennett?
- Here's how this game stacks up to other title-game blowouts.
- Georgia's social media team destroyed TCU, too.
- Here's the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame class, headlined by Tim Tebow and Reggie Bush.
- Brandon Belt signed with the Blue Jays.
- Blake Corum is coming back to Michigan. Same for Cameron Rising at Utah.
And not such a good morning for...
KLIFF KINGSBURY AND THE ARIZONA CARDINALS
The controversial, turbulent and confusing Kliff Kingsbury era is over in Arizona after four seasons. The Cardinals fired Kingsbury on Monday, the first day of what will be an odd yet extremely important offseason.
Also leaving the team is GM Steve Keim, who stepped down due to health reasons. Both Kingsbury and Keim signed big extensions last offseason.
- The Cardinals went 28-37-1 under Kingsbury and lost their only playoff game against the Rams last year.
- Kingsbury came to the Cardinals from Texas Tech in 2019, the same offseason the organization drafted Kyler Murray first overall. While there were certainly some positives, the offense was relatively middle-of-the-pack since, and things boiled over multiple times this past season.
- Of course, Murray's season ended with a torn ACL in mid-December. The mercurial quarterback has missed nine games over the past two seasons and posted career-lows in yards per attempt, passer rating and touchdown percentage in 2022.
More than anything, the past four seasons proved that an alleged offensive guru plus a dynamic quarterback plus some big names here and there does not equal success. The Cardinals invested heavily in skill position players, trading for DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown, signing James Conner and A.J. Green and drafting second-rounders Andy Isabella, Rondale Moore and Trey McBride.
Even on defense, they added J.J. Watt (who is now retired) and selected linebackers -- Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins -- in the first round of consecutive drafts. But no move has bigger ramifications than Murray's huge extension from last offseason (which at the time illustrated the strained relationship between quarterback and team with the infamous "homework" clause that ended up being removed).
Murray will now miss a significant chunk of next season, and the Cardinals have massive decisions to make at head coach and GM -- and direction of the franchise as a whole. Is it a reload? A rebuild around Murray? A complete reset? Cody Benjamin took a look at the most likely head coaching candidates to lead whatever comes next in Arizona. And here's our head coach tracker and our head coach and GM interview tracker.
Not so honorable mentions
- Carlos Correa and the Mets still have work to do on a potential contract, and the Twins are looming. It's getting stranger by the day.
- DeMar DeRozan left the Bulls' game against the Celtics with a quadricep strain.
Damar Hamlin released from Cincinnati hospital, will continue recovery in Buffalo 🏈
One week after suffering cardiac arrest on the field during a Week 17 contest against the Bengals, Bills safety Damar Hamlin was released from University of Cincinnati Medical Center and flew to Buffalo to continue his recovery at Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute.
It's the latest step in what's been an amazing recovery.
- On Wednesday, Hamlin woke up and asked if the Bills won the game.
- On Friday, Hamlin's doctors announced that he was breathing on his own and able to walk.
- On Saturday, the Bills announced that Hamlin exhibited "excellent" neurological function.
- On Sunday, Hamlin watched his team beat the Patriots as league-wide tributes poured in.
The Bills begin their postseason Saturday at home against the Dolphins.
Kevin Durant out for a month in huge blow to surging Nets 🏀
The Nets got off to a disastrous start to the season. They parted ways with Steve Nash. They suspended Kyrie Irving. Then, on Nov. 9, simply looking for some stability, they named Jacque Vaughn head coach.
They've been the NBA's best team since, behind the phenomenal play of Kevin Durant.
They're going to have to figure things out without Durant, though, because he will be out for a month with a sprained MCL in his right knee, according to reports.
- The injury occurred Sunday against the Heat, when Miami star Jimmy Butler landed on Durant's knee.
- It's a similar injury to the one that kept him out for six weeks last year, though the team is hopeful this one isn't as severe. The Nets went 5-16 with Durant out with the injury last year, a stretch that included an 11-game losing streak.
- This season, Durant is averaging 29.7 points per game while shooting 55.9 percent from the field. No one has hit those numbers since Shaquille O'Neal in 1999-2000.
The Nets have won 18 of their last 20 and are second in the Eastern Conference, only behind the Celtics. Now, they face another big test in a season that's already been full of them.
What we're watching Tuesday 📺
🏀 Thunder at Heat, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Mavericks at Clippers, 7:30 p.m. on TNT