Underdog Story: How Georgia’s Stetson Bennett Went From Walk-on to National Championship Player of the Game

by Chase Thomas
(Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Georgia Bulldogs are the 2022 National Champions. The Dawgs came away with a 33-18 over the Crimson Tide in Indy on Monday night. The Bulldogs avenged a devastating loss to the Crimson Tide in Atlanta in the SEC title game a month ago. To get back to this point the Bulldogs had to take care of the Michigan Wolverines in the College Football Playoff semifinal game. They did just that and ran the gauntlet to win their first title since 1980. They did it, with a former walk-on quarterback in Stetson Bennett who outdueled the Heisman winner Bryce Young to lead the Bulldogs to victory on Monday night.

Bennett’s story is like that of Kurt Warner’s in St. Louis and his magic run that ended with the Rams knocking off the Tennessee Titans to win the Super Bowl in 1999. It was kind of like that for Bennett and the Bulldogs. Before the season, nobody thought that the National Championship Player of the Game would be that former two-star. Everything was about J.T. Daniels and his Heisman potential at Georgia. Instead, it was all about Stetson who led the Bulldogs to the promised land.

Stetson Bennett Insight

Bennett was not the starter at the beginning of the season. It was Daniels and the focus was on the former transfer out of USC and all the possibilities that he brought to the program. However, due to injuries, Bennett got the call and ran with it. He told the AJC, “There comes a point and time when you become a player that you can’t be a fan anymore.” He had to look at himself as QB1 for the Georgia Bulldogs, the team he grew up idolizing as a fan. He was no longer a fan, he was the guy in charge of leading the most talented team in the country to a National Title game.

Bennett concluded, “I don’t really know when that switch was, and I don’t really know why, but you kind of flip a switch when you go through the day-to-day and you know all these guys. You can’t really be a fan anymore.”

Bennett had to treat it all as a business. He got the flip phone and blocked out the noise. He was not a fan on the sidelines or the quarterback who played the Baker Mayfield role years earlier. This was Stetson Bennett’s team and the Georgia Bulldogs fans needed him to step up for the Dawgs to win a National Title. Bennett was the underdog, but you might have forgotten that on that go-ahead TD to A.D. Mitchell. The underdog QB picked on a young corner and flipped the game. He didn’t flinch after a disastrous fumble that seemingly flipped the momentum of the game. He found Brock Bowers when he needed to. And now, the Georgia Bulldogs are national champions.