Alabama Georgia

Alabama head coach Nick Saban gestures to the crowd before the 26-23 win over Georgia in the national championship game. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

Trent Penny/The Anniston Star

The king is dead. Long live the king.

Thirty-seven years after Georgia last reached the mountaintop, another freshman led the way to the summit. Move over Herschel. Meet Jake Fromm.

Oh, wait. The king ain’t dead.

Georgia dominated the first half, then dominated half of the second, before Alabama’s own freshman quarterback, Tua Tagavailoa, staged an epic comeback.

Down 13-0 at intermission, 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Alabama rallied to win its 17th national title in Monday’s championship game.

A Georgia program built to look, play and hit like the Alabama program Kirby Smart tutored under proved to be the equal everywhere but the scoreboard.

Suddenly, on second-and-26 in overtime, Tagavailoa – who hadn’t played a meaningful series before Monday – launched the game-winning, 41-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman DeVonta Smith as Alabama pulled out a 26-23 victory.

Alabama did it with another freshman, Najee Harris, igniting the running game, and yet another, Alex Leatherwood, filling in for injured All-American left tackle Jonah Williams. And it came after a missed chip-shot field goal and a disastrous start to OT.

In just two seasons under Smart, Nick Saban’s long-time defensive coordinator, Georgia made the jump from the nation’s biggest underachiever to being the equal to college football’s premier program.

But it wasn’t enough.

As long as Nick Saban seeks challenges and still enjoys landing talent, Alabama isn’t going anywhere.