NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Georgia vs Baylor

Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Richard LeCounte (2) celebrates after intercepting a ball against the Baylor Bears during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

ATHENS — Georgia won a title during Monday’s National Championship game.

Not the coveted trophy that the Bulldogs wanted, but a statistical honor nonetheless. Once Clemson allowed 28 first-half points to LSU potent offense, Georgia became the No. 1 scoring defense nationally by allowing an average of 12.6 points per game.

Georgia (12-2) leaned on its defense and dominated at times en route to an SEC Championship appearance and Sugar Bowl title. The Bulldogs didn’t have a true star emerge, but did it as a collective effort. Under a first-year defensive coordinator, no less, in Dan Lanning.

“We take a lot of pride in our performance, in everything we do,” Lanning said prior to the Bulldogs’ 26-14 win over Baylor in New Orleans. “We want to hold our defense to a standard. We’ve been fortunate to hit that several times this year.”

Georgia shutout three opponents this season (Arkansas State, Kentucky and Missouri), allowed 13 combined points to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech and boasted a strong run defense. The Bulldogs allowed two rushing touchdowns on the season, but none came to running backs — Auburn quarterback Bo Nix and Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer.

Georgia pieced together one of its strongest defensive performances in quite some time, and it showed depth in the Sugar Bowl due to absences. Some young influential players include Tyrique Stevenson, Nakobe Dean, Travon Walker, Lewis Cine and Nolan Smith.

Other than a few impactful seniors (J.R. Reed, Tae Crowder, Tyler Clark and David Marshall), Georgia returns a lot of talent. None of the eligible juniors opted to declare early for the NFL draft.

Georgia hopes this title soon turns into the big one.

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