Georgia faces top-ranked Alabama in the SEC Championship Game Saturday afternoon at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, having had only one hiccup in its 12-game regular season schedule.
That, of course, came on Oct. 13 at LSU. But the Bulldogs then ran the table the rest of the way, blowing out Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, UMass and Georgia Tech to finish 11-1 for a second consecutive season and set the stage for what promises to be a gigantic duel with the 12-0 Crimson Tide, with another berth in the four-team national playoff squarely on the line.
The Bulldogs, it seemed, barely broke a sweat in walloping the state rival Yellow Jackets 45-21 this past Saturday, in a game not nearly as close as that final score might indicate. These Stats That Matter, in a game where Georgia commanded a 38-7 halftime lead, will readily reflect the Dawgs’ complete domination of the Techsters.
Plays of 20 plus yards (offense/defense)
In the first half, Jake Fromm hooked up with Terry Godwin on a 22-yard pass, Elijah Holyfield ripped off a 39-yard run, Jayson Stanley had a 26-yard dash on the jet sweep and Fromm hit Mecole Hardman on a 44-yard touchdown pass. In the second half, D’Andre Swift had a 28-yard scamper and James Cook reeled off a 27-yard run. For most of the game, Tech’s only big play consisted of an 100-yard kickoff return by Juanyeh Thomas but down the stretch, with the game long out of reach, the Jackets connected on a double pass for 22 yards and then got pass completions of 26 and 28 yards by TaQuon Marshall, the latter being a touchdown pass to Brad Stewart with only 39 seconds left in the game.
It was a second consecutive nearly penalty-free game for the Bulldogs as they picked up just two infractions for a total of 10 yards. Freshman tailback Cook had Georgia’s only turnover, a fourth-quarter fumble that led to the Jackets’ first touchdown from scrimmage.
Special teams wins vs. miscues
The biggest miscue was when the Bulldogs’ kickoff coverage team allowed Tech’s Thomas to race the 100 yards for a touchdown, after Georgia had grabbed a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But that was all the Jackets had to hang their hats on as they didn’t score again until the final period, after the Bulldogs had built their lead to 45-7. Blankenship’s first kickoff to Tech went out of bounds, giving the Jackets possession at their 35-yard line. Blankenship converted on a 25-yard field goal but his 48-yard attempt in the final quarter struck the upright. Georgia punted only once all afternoon, a 45-yard kick by Jake Camarda.
The Bulldog defense swarmed the Tech running backs the day long, holding the Jackets’ nation-leading, triple-option rushing offense to a meager 128 yards … 225 yards below their 353 season average.
The Bulldogs didn’t gain any turnovers from the Jackets but that wasn’t a factor on a day when Georgia dominated Georgia Tech on both sides of the ball. Georgia had the one lost fumble by Cook.
Red Zone (offense/defense)
Scoring all six times they had the ball in the first half, the Bulldogs finished the day 6-of-7 scoring in the red zone, with five touchdowns and one field goal. The Jackets drove inside the Georgia 20 only once all afternoon, getting a touchdown out of it late in the contest.
Third down conversions
Georgia, going up and down the field seemingly at will, didn’t have but six third down chances to convert and was successful on just two of the attempts. But the Bulldogs were a perfect two-of-two in converting fourth-down opportunities. Showing the frustration of the Tech offense, the Jackets were just 3-of-13 on third down tries and were stopped three times by Georgia on their six fourth-down attempts.
Run/pass attempts (total plays)
Here is where the UGA domination in this game really shows. Both teams ran almost the same number of plays – the Bulldogs 61 to the Jackets’ 60 – but Georgia totaled 447 yards of offense to Tech’s 219 total. The Bulldogs rushed for 285 yards on 42 attempts and passed for 162 net although Fromm himself was nearly flawless, completing 13-of-16 attempts for 175 yards and a career-high four touchdowns.