X

Stetson Bennett, Lewis Cine Win 2022 College Football National Championship MVPs

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2022

Georgia's Stetson Bennett gets away from Alabama's Christian Harris during the first half of the College Football Playoff championship football game Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The Georgia Bulldogs picked the perfect time to finally get over the hump against Alabama for the first time in Kirby Smart's tenure as head coach. And two huge touchdown passes from quarterback Stetson Bennett in Monday night's College Football National Championship Game was a major reason why. 

Bennett was named the game's offensive MVP in Georgia's 33-18 win over Alabama, helping them avenge a 41-24 loss to the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship.

Not too shabby for the former walk-on: 

ESPN @espn

From walk-on to national champion at his home state school. It means everything to Stetson Bennett. #NationalChampionship https://t.co/TaRdSJF8sc

Matt Fortuna @Matt_Fortuna

Such a great scene on the Georgia sideline right now with Stetson Bennett. This guy is going to go down as an all-time story in the history of college football. Just a remarkable career that is capped by ending a 41-year title drought with a victory over the Heisman winner.

Stewart Mandel @slmandel

The last 5 national title QBs were Deshaun Watson, Tua, Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow and Mac Jones, all first-rounders. The Stetson Bennett story is freaking epic.

Bonnie Bernstein @BonnieBernstein

Stetson Bennett has "movie" written all over him, he really does... The lifelong Georgia fandom. The coming to Athens, leaving, then coming back. All the criticism, all the calls for JT Daniels. Good for him, man. Good.For.Him. #Dawgs #NationalChampions

Safety Lewis Cine, who registered seven tackles (including one for a loss), was named the defensive MVP. 

But it was Bennett who was the story. For the game, he finished 17-of-26 for 224 yards and two scores. While he struggled with the Alabama pass rush for much of the contest, he made two crucial throws in the fourth quarter to lead the Bulldogs to the win. 

The first was an absolute dime to Adonai Mitchell for the go-ahead touchdown:

ESPN @espn

WHAT A CATCH 🤩 ADONAI MITCHELL DELIVERED FOR A 40-YARD TD! https://t.co/S86FwsqP1L

The second was a nice touch pass to Brock Bowers on a play-action screen to push the advantage to eight points:

Video Play Button
Videos you might like
SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Georgia extends the lead‼️ #NationalChampionship https://t.co/Xt3ffajxJU

Those two throws will live never be forgotten in Athens. 

Before the game, Bennett said he wasn't trying to be the hero; he just wanted to do his job and treat Monday's game like any other. 

"Maybe I'm not capable of holding that weight on my shoulders, but no, I'm just treating it as a football game," he told reporters last week. "Do I know that means a lot to a lot of people? Yes. Am I trying to play some kind of savior by winning a national championship for millions of people? No. I don't think that's my job. My job is to go out there and throw completions to very talented people we have on this team. And I think it's as simple as that."

But he'll be remembered as something of a football savior in Georgia forever now, and all it took was one magical quarter.

You could make the argument that Georgia's elite defense was the reason they won, holding Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and the explosive Alabama offense to just 18 points. Or that the team's run game, highlighted by Zamir White (13 carries for 84 yards and a score) and James Cook (six carries for 77 yards) carried the offense.

But nobody will ever forget those two touchdown throws from Bennett. And the Bulldogs, who were 0-4 all-time against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide during Smart's tenure as head coach, are national champions because of them.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.