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Jumbo Package: Sweet 17

CFP National Championship presented by AT&T - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

It was obviously a late night and real life is intervening this morning, so I will provide your morning reading sans commentary. There is plenty of it.

Hurts was right there on the sideline coaching up Tagovailoa through the good and the bad, and there was plenty of both during a second half that saw the Tide showcase their wealth of freshman talent.

Najee Harris finished as the team’s leading rusher, Henry Ruggs III caught the first touchdown pass from Tagovailoa, and De’Vonta Smith caught the game-winning score. All of them freshmen, thrown into the fire on the biggest stage and now responsible for one of the most thrilling championships of all time.

“Well, the issue was we missed a signal,” Saban said, looking at Tagovailoa, who tried to hide a smile. “Everybody was running a running play, but he was running a passing play.”

Saban then asked a rhetorical question.

”But we learn from those things, right?” Saban asked.

”Yes sir,” Tagovailoa replied.

”He was just reassuring me he would learn from it,” Saban said to the rest of the room.

After the game, Saban was asked about the winning throw.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Saban said. “I knew we were running Seattle, which is four streaks and when I saw Smitty come open on the other side and Tua threw it, I said ‘This is it.’”

Georgia’s rushing attack, which had been so devastating against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, was not nearly as effective this time around, rushing for 133 yards against Alabama’s stout front-seven.

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 that 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 on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.

The freshman magic kept on working. Why not, since the game had passed out of the realm of the normal? Take out Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris and replace them with Najee Harris? That works. Watch Jonah Williams limp off with an injury and replace him with Alex Leatherwood? That works. Watch Mekhi Brown, a little-used defensive end, blow up like an angry volcano at his own teammates, then put him back in to unleash that wrath on a Georgia kick returner? No problem.

Not even a missed field goal at the end of regulation was a dream-killer. Not even a sack of Tagovailoa, after a 51-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal, could drown the Crimson Tide. It should have. It normally would have. That’s what happens in real life.

It was different because it needed a second-half comeback sparked by a true freshman QB, Tua Tagovailoa—inserted into the lineup at halftime with Alabama on the ropes as Georgia continued to pound away and sophomore starting quarterback Jalen Hurts was unable to get its downfield passing attack cranked up.

It was different because the guy who caught the game-winning pass—a 41-yard strike from Tagovailoa—was also a true freshman, DeVonta Smith.

It was different because if you asked the Tide’s leading rusher during the regular season, Damien Harris, he’d tell you in the winner’s locker room a half hour after the confetti cannons went off—actually, he’d yell for the benefit of anyone within earshot—“THEY SAID WE WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE, AND WE WON ALL OF THIS S---!”

So that’s what it looks like when a dynasty refreshes itself at the fountain of youth. It finds a way when there is no way. It believes when reality says there’s no reason to go on.

The latest chapter of this Alabama football dynasty, its greatest escape, ended in an unthinkable way. Tua Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith. Touchdown. Title. Truth.

All apologies to Larry Munson, that great Bulldog in the sky, but my God, a freshman. My God, a freshman.

There will undoubtedly be more, but that will occupy you for a while. Oh, and there was this:

Go give ‘em hell, Crazy Tony.

Roll Tide.