Another national title for Tide

The Associated Press

ATLANTA–To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future–and Tua Tagovailoa proved his time is now.
The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia last night for the College Football Playoff national championship.
Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.
“He just stepped in and did his thing,” Hurts said. “He’s built for stuff like this.
“I’m so happy for him.”
The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead but first Alabama will celebrate another title.
For the third-straight season, Alabama played a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on a touchdown with a second left.
What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?
“I could not believe it,” he remarked. “There’s lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game.
“These kids really responded the right way,” he added. “We said last year, ‘Don’t waste the feeling.’
“They sure didn’t the way they played tonight.”
Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained, and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbable victory of his unmatched career.
A few hours later, Alabama was voted No. 1 in the final AP college football poll for the 11th time–three more than any other program.
After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation, Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.
Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama’s first play, losing 16 yards. But on the next, he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.
“After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play,” Tagovailoa said.
“I looked back out and he was wide open. ‘Smitty’ was wide open.”
Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offence in the second half: Najee Harris at running back, Henry Ruggs III at receiver, and Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt.
It’s a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.
But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.
“I just thought we had to throw the ball and I felt he [Tagovailoa] could do it better, and he did,” Saban said.
“He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game,” he noted.
“Just a great win.”
Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama’s last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.