Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss the matchup in the National Championship Game between No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 TCU, and debate how history will remember Georgia’s incredible run over the last six seasons under Kirby Smart.
PAT FORDE: They were, like, yeah, you know what? I mean, we were in these situations a lot where we were down everything, and then some-- like, people would ask him, well, like, what were you thinking of? Well, Missouri, and that's it because that's the only other time they were down.
DAN WETZEL: Georgia. So Georgia can win a second title. Last year's team was just phenomenal. Obviously, they did lose to Alabama, but that team was absolutely stacked, 15 NFL draft picks. And I know they've recruited well, but my lord, 15 NFL draft picks, and they're back. They haven't lost. I don't think there is-- I think last year's team beats this year's team, but that's the only team that may beat these guys.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: If they pull this off and considering it's now a four team playoff situation, how should history remember this group? Is this one of the five best groups or five best runs-- I mean it's just amazing-- this isn't the-- it was easier to win titles back in the day. The idea of running through two straight undefeated regular seasons in the SEC, one loss in two years, only in that great Alabama team. What should we consider this Georgia club, Ross?
ROSS DELLENGER: Well, and think of how like-- I think you mentioned it earlier in the show back to back champions, and if they do it, they-- yeah, they're, obviously, in incredible company, in rare company. And I think you go back and even you look at-- now, I guess a lot of guys from that class are gone, but you look at the '17 season, which is, Kirby, I think his second year when they made it to the Championship Game, and of course, second and 26.
But starting that year, '17, '18, '19, '21, '22, the six year stretch that they're on is pretty incredible, and it gets overshadowed because you've got Alabama that has been doing this for 12, 13, 13, 14 years, having similar runs, but this six-year stretch, if you put it in any other era is the best of that era.
DAN WETZEL: Alabama never won two in a row. They've got in the playoffs. This is the first team that could do it in the playoffs.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, true. Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: And, again, I think it's harder in the playoff. That said, they were able to get the mulligan on the SEC championship game last year. So I guess they got that going for them. They get the second shot. Go ahead, Pat.
PAT FORDE: No, I think it's an absolutely phenomenal thing for them to be here in this position again, and really, like, they-- it's funny. It was interesting listening to Georgia's players after the game-- the Ohio State game, and they were like, yeah, you know what? I mean, we were in these situations a lot where we were down and everything, and then some-- like, people would ask them, well, like, what were you thinking of? Well, Missouri. And that's it because that's the only other time they were down.
They rolled through the regular season. They had one close call against Missouri. They were down 16 in the second half of that game. I think they were down 10 in the fourth quarter. They won, and other than that, that is the only time they were ever remotely challenged until Ohio State. That's how good they've been this season. I agree, Dan, with you, they're not as good as last year's team, but, still, they've been really impressive, really, really good.
And I think LSU and Ohio State at the end here with really good coaches, good quarterbacks and good skill have exposed some things that you can do to them through the air, and TCU has all those things too. And so that's going to be a challenge, but that is an unbelievably good team in a lot of ways. And I think you start at the top, obviously, with Kirby Smart and who is-- he's the total package. He's the next Saban, to me. He is unbelievable recruiter, unbelievable motivator, unbelievable player developer, unbelievable game planner, unbelievable in-game coach.
And I think he's come the farthest in that category because there's been some games where I think he's melted down in the past, but he sure didn't against Ohio State on last Saturday.
ROSS DELLENGER: No, that timeout, right? We-- think he went to the post game to hear him talk about how on the headsets they were-- he was on a different channel, and so the special teams guys didn't-- he wasn't on the special teams channel, so he was on the defensive channel, and he just happened to notice the formation on the field. It's like Kirby Smart of like 2017 probably wouldn't-- probably wouldn't have done that.
But the Kirby Smart today did, and I don't know that this year's team is better than last year's team, but it does feel more complete. Offensively, it does feel-- it feels better. I have more confidence, I guess, in their offense this year than I did last year.
DAN WETZEL: They got the receivers back. I think they have better receivers, right?
ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah.
PAT FORDE: Yeah--
DAN WETZEL: Especially now.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, they've got six good receivers, and that's not even counting the tight ends. I mean, they are loaded. They're just finally all, yeah, all healthy.
DAN WETZEL: Kirby's quote after the Ohio State game, I couldn't be prouder of these kids. It's a special group now. They've overcome everyone was questioning them all year.
ROSS DELLENGER: Yes.
PAT FORDE: No.
DAN WETZEL: Lack of respect from game one until I'm proud of them. Go dawgs. Yes--
ROSS DELLENGER: Underdogs.
DAN WETZEL: --disrespected number one.