I have not been able to figure out how to describe what we watched in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday night.
It was epic for a number of reasons, and, to put it bluntly, was a pretty remarkable game to witness.
While I was watching, I thought back to how closely the end of this game looked like the ending of Nick Saban’s first loss at Alabama back in 2007.
In the first 3 weeks of the 2007 season, Alabama earned a 52-6 win over Western Carolina, and a 24-10 ugly win at Vanderbilt to start conference play, before winning 41-38 on a touchdown pass with :04 left against Arkansas.
Tuscaloosa was bananas at the time, and College Gameday made their way to town for the game between #22 Georgia and #16 Alabama.
A friend and I made the trip for our first time to experience College Gameday, and we each took $200 cash to try and get a ticket into the game, which we knew was going to be a hard ticket to get anyway. We played around on campus all day, watching other games, and about an hour before gametime, we started looking for tickets.
First off, it was tough to find anybody on campus that was trying to get rid of tickets. In fact, we didn’t find a single person selling tickets for at least 30 minutes.
Once we found somebody, the first person wanted $800 for a pair of upper deck tickets.
Remember, we had $200 cash each.
We continued looking, and finally realized that everybody wanted astronomical prices for these tickets. The smart play, we believed, would be to wait until the game was kicking off, and then try and get tickets from a scalper that was just looking to get rid of them.
The cheapest we could talk anyone down on tickets, even 15 minutes after the game started, was $550 for a pair of upper deck tickets.
We had been in Tuscaloosa all day, and couldn’t get into the game. So we made the trek to the student union to watch the game in the theater with hundreds of Alabama students.
Let’s get back into comparing the 2 games.
In 2007, Georgia, with QB Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno in the backfield, controlled the game for 3+ quarters. Let’s lay this out in bullet points.
- [12:23]: Georgia kicks a field goal to take a 20-10 lead with [12:23] left in the game.
- [6:30]: Alabama then drove down the field and kicked a field goal to make it 20-13.
- [4:44]: Georgia is forced to punt after getting a 1st down on the first play, and then losing a yard on the next 3 plays combined.
- [1:09]: Alabama‘s QB John Parker Wilson runs in a 6 yard touchdown to tie the game 20-20
- [0:00]: Georgia’s Brandon Coutu has his 2nd missed FG, this one from 47 yards, to send the game into overtime.
- Alabama‘s overtime: Glen Coffee rushes for 0 yards, and John Parker Wilson throws 2 incompletions – Leigh Tiffin kicks a field goal to take Alabama’s 1st lead of the game: 23-20
- Georgia‘s overtime: On the first play of overtime, Matt Stafford throws a 25 yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to win the game 26-23
So how close is this to what happened in the 2018 National Championship game in Atlanta? Georgia, with QB Jake Fromm and that stable of running backs, controlled the game for 3+ quarters.
Let’s take a look at the sequence:
- [11:49]: Georgia is forced to punt with a 20-10 lead
- [9:24]: Alabama then drove down the field and Andy Pappanastos kicked a field goal to make it 20-13.
- [7:10]: Georgia is forced to punt on 4th and 1, after a 3 and out (Nick Chubb 1 yard loss, a Hardman 9 yard gain, and a Sony Michel 1 yard gain)
- [3:49]: Alabama‘s QB Tua Tagoviloa throws a 7 yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley to tie the game 20-20
- [2:55]: Georgia was forced to punt after a 3 and out (Fromm incompletion, Fromm completion to Riley Ridley for 7 yard, Fromm incompletion)
- [0:00]: Alabama’s Andy Pappanastos has his 2nd missed FG, this one from 36 yards, to send the game into overtime
- Georgia‘s overtime: Nick Chubb rushes for 3 yards, rushes for 1 yard, and Jake Fromm was sacked for a loss of 13 yards – Rodrigo Blankenship kicks a 51 yard field goal to lead the game 23-20
- Alabama‘s overtime: Tua is sacked for a 16 yard loss, and on the very next play, Tua throws a 41 touchdown pass down the left sideline to win the game 26-23, which is Alabama’s 1st lead of the game
How insane are these coincidences from both games?
- Georgia leads 20-10 in the 4th quarter
- Alabama drives and kicks a FG to cut the lead to 20-13
- Georgia is forced to punt
- Alabama ties the game 20-20 on a touchdown late in the 4th quarter
- the winning team’s kicker misses a game-winning FG as time expires
- the first team with the ball, in overtime goes, 3-and-out and kicks a long field goal to lead 23-20
- the winning team threw a deep route down the left sideline to win in walk-off fashion
- in both games, Alabama had their first lead of the game in overtime
The similarities are remarkable.