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Championship - Football

118 days ago
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2022 SEC Football Championship

December 3, 2022
Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Atlanta, Georgia 

2022 SEC Football Championship
Saturday, Dec. 3  #14 LSU vs.  #1 Georgia 4 PM ET CBS UGA 50, LSU 30

No. 1 Georgia blasts No. 14 LSU to claim SEC title

ATLANTA - Georgia swatted away the field goal attempt, the ball spinning to a stop at its 4-yard line. The LSU players trudged off the field, thinking the play was over.

Christopher Smith knew better. He suddenly scooped it up and took off the other way, sprinting 96 yards for a touchdown that epitomized the Bulldogs program.

They were a step ahead of LSU on Saturday.

They've been a step ahead of everyone for two years now.

With all sorts of turmoil behind them in the rankings, Georgia headed to the College Football Playoff as the clear No. 1, dismantling the No. 11 Tigers 50-30 in the Southeastern Conference championship game Saturday.

Stetson Bennett threw a season-high four touchdown passes in another stellar postseason performance, while Smith's heads-up play gave the Bulldogs an early spark.

"I've got good players around me. I'm not that bad at football, either," Bennett said with a smile. "We've got a good team."

Georgia (13-0, No. 1 CFP) also caught a big break when Smith deflected a pass that bounced off an LSU receiver's helmet and wound up being picked off by the Bulldogs, setting up a score that contributed to a 35-10 lead by halftime.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels re-injured a sore right ankle late in the second quarter, giving way to Garrett Nussmeier in the second half.

The backup guided the Tigers (9-4, No. 14 CFP) to three second-half touchdowns, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Georgia accomplished something that not even last season's national championship squad could could do - win its first SEC title since 2017. The Bulldogs were denied in this game a year ago by Alabama, before bouncing back to beat the Crimson Tide in the title game.

"I don't want one kid to walk out of our program without an SEC championship ring in their careers," coach Kirby Smart said. "That could've happened. They said enough is enough and got 'em one tonight."

Georgia heads into the playoff assured of a return trip to Atlanta for a de facto semifinal home game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, just 75 miles from its Athens campus.

LSU's outside hopes of crashing the four-team playoff field were wiped out a week ago by a stunning loss at Texas A&M, one of several upsets that will give the selection committee plenty to think about before its announcement Sunday.

Tennessee and Clemson also ruined their playoff hopes with losses late in the regular season, while No. 4 Southern California is presumably out after getting blown out by Utah in the Pac-12 title game Friday night.

Just as the SEC game was kicking off, No. 3 TCU lost to Kansas State in overtime for the Big 12 championship, further clouding a playoff picture that suddenly looks much more favorable for No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Alabama.

No matter who makes the elite field, Georgia is firmly focused on becoming the first repeat national title since Alabama in 2011-12, having won all but one game this season by double-digit margins.

"I've tried not to play attention to any of it," Smart said of all the chaos. "It didn't matter to me. That's so far away."

The Bulldogs showed they are more than just a bunch of talented athletes - this is a smart, well-coached group.

When Nazir Stackhouse burst through the middle of the line to block LSU's 32-yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter, Smith knew what to do.

"That's a scenario we go over a lot in practice," he said.

He looked toward the sideline to see if it was OK to grab it.

"You're not allowed to pick it up unless you can score with it," Smart said.

Smith took care of the rest.

LSU coach Brian Kelly blamed himself and his staff for allowing the play to happen.

"Obviously, we did a poor job if coaching," he said. "It's our responsibility to have our guys alert in that situation. They were not alert."

LSU quickly tied it up on Daniels' 53-yard touchdown pass to Kayshon Boutte, only to have Bennett take control from there.

The sixth-year senior, a former walk-on who was offensive MVP of both Georgia playoffs wins a year ago, struck for four TD passes in a less than 15-minute span: 3 yards to Brock Bowers, 22 yards to Ladd McConkey, 14 yards to Darnell Washington and 3 yards to Dillon Bell.

Just like that, Georgia led 35-7.

"I was in a zone," Bennett said.

It's been that way for two years now.


LSU: Kelly's debut season turned a bit ugly the last two weeks, but the Tigers are on the right track. "We want to get back here next year. That's our goal," Kelly said. "Get back here and win it."

Georgia: Win or lose in the SEC title game, the Bulldogs were assured of a spot in the playoff. But Smart continues to impress with his ability to keep the team motivated. While there were some huge defensive lapses in the second half, this game was never in doubt.


When Georgia scored its final touchdown early in the fourth quarter for a 48-23 lead, Smart surprisingly called for a 2-point conversion.

The Bulldogs converted it with a trick play, but Smart insisted that he wasn't trying to run up the score.

"The books says you go for 2 there," he said.

When asked about the play, Kelly stumbled over his words a bit before finally saying, "I don't get too caught up in what other teams are doing."

SEC Football Championship Game History
Year Score Attendance MVP
2022 Georgia 50, LSU 30 74,810 Stetson Bennett, Georgia
2021 Alabama 41, Georgia 24 78,030 Bryce Young, Alabama
2020 Alabama 52, Florida 46 16,500 Najee Harris, Alabama
2019 LSU 37, Georgia 10 74,150 Joe Burrow, LSU
2018 Alabama 35, Georgia 28 77,141 Josh Jacobs, Alabama
2017 Georgia 28, Auburn 7 76,534 Roquan Smith, Georgia
2016 Alabama 54, Florida 16 74,632 Reuben Foster, Alabama
2015 Alabama 29, Florida 15 75,320 Derrick Henry, Alabama
2014 Alabama 42, Missouri 13 73,526 Blake Sims, Alabama
2013 Auburn 59, Missouri 42 75,632 Tre Mason, Auburn
2012 Alabama 32, Georgia 28 75,624 Eddie Lacy, Alabama
2011 LSU 42, Georgia 10 75,515 Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
2010 Auburn 56, South Carolina 17 75,802 Cam Newton, Auburn
2009 Alabama 32, Florida 13 75,514 Greg McElroy, Alabama
2008 Florida 31, Alabama 20 75,892 Tim Tebow, Florida
2007 LSU 21, Tennessee 14 73,832 Ryan Perrilloux, LSU
2006 Florida 38, Arkansas 28 73,374 Percy Harvin, Florida
2005 Georgia 34, LSU 14 73,717 D.J. Shockley, Georgia
2004 Auburn 38, Tennessee 28 74,892 Jason Campbell, Auburn
2003 LSU 34, Georgia 13 74,913 Justin Vincent, LSU
2002 Georgia 30, Arkansas 3 74,835 David Greene, Georgia
2001 LSU 31, Tennessee 20 74,843 Matt Mauck, LSU
2000 Florida 28, Auburn 6 73,427 Rex Grossman, Florida
1999 Alabama 34, Florida 7 71,500 Freddie Milons, Alabama
1998 Tennessee 24, Mississippi State 14 74,795 Peerless Price, Tennessee
1997 Tennessee 30, Auburn 29 74,896 Peyton Manning, Tennessee
1996 Florida 45, Alabama 30 74,132 Danny Wuerffel, Florida
1995 Florida 34, Arkansas 3 71,325 Danny Wuerffel, Florida
1994 Florida 24, Alabama 23 76,751 Ellis Johnson, Florida
1993 Florida 28, Alabama 13 76,345 Terry Dean, Florida
1992 Alabama 28, Florida 21 83,091 Antonio Langham, Alabama
SEC Football Champions
Year Champion
2022 Georgia Bulldogs
2021 Alabama Crimson Tide
2020 Alabama Crimson Tide
2019 LSU Tigers
2018 Alabama Crimson Tide
2017 Georgia Bulldogs
2016 Alabama Crimson Tide
2015 Alabama Crimson Tide
Full Championship History