Bama returns to warm welcome in chilly Tuscaloosa rain

Crimson Tide wide receiver De Vonta Smith scores the game-winning touchdown in overtime

Crimson Tide wide receiver De Vonta Smith scores the game-winning touchdown in overtime

Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, like Georgia's Kirby Smart two years ago, worked the title game before taking over as an SEC head coach.

The national championship showdown between Alabama and Georgia drew 28.443 million viewers for ESPN, making it the second-most watched title game in the four years of the College Football Playoff format.

Pruitt wrapped up his Crimson Tide career in an unforgettable manner Monday night, as Bama rallied from a 13-0 deficit to stun Georgia 26-23 in overtime in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Atlanta. Who would have ever thought I would have been here, right now in this moment.

Later, he also offered a simple tweet giving glory to God, saying, "God, thank you".

And he certainly made the most of it.

After Jalen Hurts hit Calvin Ridley on a 31-yard reception, Hurts hit Smith for the game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds remaining.

Cleveland said the pain of the loss will be on his mind all offseason, as he and the rest of the team gets ready for the coming season. After a quick three-and-out with the first series under Tagovailoa featured a QB run, quick pass to the flat to a tight end and a sack, Brian Daboll opened up the playbook. Not to be deterred, Tagovailoa went for broke. "It looked like they were running two trap".

There was talk this could be the turning of the corner, that this game could be the point when Georgia takes over for Alabama as the dominant force in Southern football, which based on the numbers means college football overall.

Bulldogs running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb react after Alabama’s win
Bulldogs running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb react after Alabama’s win

"I couldn't be prouder of a group of players, especially the resiliency they showed in the game", Saban said. Only the kicker, Andy Pappanastos, slips a little as he is about to swing his right leg through the ball, and misses badly to the left, and everybody goes to overtime.

But it was Saban's halftime move that defined this championship.

No matter how many teams make the playoff, there's always going to be debate.

"I was comfortable because Tua was comfortable", she said. In the final half and overtime, the Tide limited UGA to six first downs and 142 yards.

But on the Tide's second possession, Tagovailoa guided Alabama on a seven-play, 56-yard scoring drive, capping it with four straight completions that included a 6-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman receiver Henry Ruggs III.

Georgia (13-2) finished second for its best ranking since 2007.

Shortly after game's end Monday night, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook installed Alabama as a 3-1 favorite to repeat as national champion. After winning the championship for Florida State following the 2013 season, Fisher had talent comparable to Alabama, but the Seminoles couldn't capitalize and haven't been back to the title game since winning it all.

But Alabama made it worthwhile with a stunning victory and when they touched down at the Tuscaloosa Airport, more than a few made sure the players and the coaches heard them with that all familiar cheer.

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