A new champion now reigns over the SEC.
Aside from the opening offensive drive, Gus Malzahn’s second-ranked Auburn Tigers could not find an answer offensively for their banged up star running back, Kerryon Johnson. The Bulldogs pressed that issue with a bevy of unique blitzes, well-timed turnovers, and tackle-breaking runs. The blowout was capped off by a 64-yard touchdown run by their third-string running back.
With the win, UGA will now be heading to the College Football Playoffs, likely playing Baker Mayfield’s Oklahoma Sooners in the first round. If Alabama fails to sneak into the fourth spot, Georgia will be the lone representative for the SEC in this year’s postseason. It would also mark the first year the playoffs did not include the Crimson Tide. A bright spot for many Alabama fans to remember is that Smart is a Nick Saban protege – a fact that may motivate many to root for the Bulldogs.
In only two years time, Smart has turned the program up a notch and has taken it where Mark Richt failed so many times to get to. The year was marred when his ‘Dawgs were manhandled in Jordan-Hare a few weeks ago, but after today no matter how their season ends this year will go down as a huge success. Do not expect this to be a one-time moment, either, as another strong recruiting class appears to be incoming for 2018.
On the other hand, Gus Malzahn’s storybook season is now dead and his inability to recharge the offense after Kerryon’s Iron Bowl injury needs to be placed under the microscope. Rumors of his departure to Arkansas will now hang heavier over the program as ending a ‘what if’ season in abominable fashion is sure to hold weight in the Arkansas native’s thought process.
After today’s games finish up, the bowl season will be officially upon us. The Heisman Trophy ceremony will be held next weekend and non-bowling teams will start reshuffling and re-shifting their focus to next season. Should Ohio State beat Wisconsin tonight, the nation will collectively hold its breath this Tuesday night as the Playoff Committee will be left making a tough decision for the fourth seed.