ATLANTA – Shades of Frank Sinkwich and Charley Trippi, the Georgia Bulldogs are going back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since Jan. 1, 1943 when that scintillating backfield duo led Wally Butts’ Dogs to a 9-0 win over UCLA.
Now, it’s names like Chubb, Michel, and Swift doing the running as Georgia, the No. 3 seed in the College Football Playoffs, will be going against second-seeded Oklahoma on Jan. 1, 2018 with the semifinals winner advancing to the national championship game on Jan. 8 against the Clemson-Alabama Sugar Bowl victor.
The national title game will be staged in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the same venue where the Bulldogs captured their first SEC title since 2005 with a 28-7 smashing of the Auburn Tigers, the same Tigers that had throttled Georgia by 40-17 in the regular-season meeting in Auburn.
The weekly Stats That Matter will reflect how now 12-1 Georgia broke away from a 10-7 halftime lead and ran away from the stunned Tigers down the stretch in the Dec. 2 game, while sending Bulldawg Nation into a state of pure euphoria.
PLAYS OF 20 PLUS YARDS, OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
In the 10-7 first half, the Bulldogs got a 34-yard pass from Jake Fromm to Mecole Hardman, which set up Georgia’s first touchdown and a 32-yard screen pass from Fromm to Sony Michel, which led to Rodrigo Blankenship’s 27-yard field goal that gave the Bulldogs their 3-point halftime advantage. Auburn had Jarrett Stidham pass completions of 22 and 25 yards. Georgia then began to take control of the game in the second half and got a 31-yard strike from Fromm to Terry Godwin, a 20-yard run by Nick Chubb and D’Andre Swift’s stirring 64-yard touchdown run, which handed the Bulldogs their 28-7 lead with still over 10 minutes left in the game. And the Tigers managed only one additional big play against the UGA defense, a 29-yard completion by Stidham.
(TURNOVERS, PENALTIES, CLOCK MANAGEMENT MISCUES, ETC)
It’s amazing the Bulldogs held the halftime lead because of being whistled for four penalties for 46 yards, including pass interference and face-mask calls on cornerback Deandre Baker, a roughing-the-passer call on Jonathan Ledbetter which came on offsetting penalties and, a very costly offensive pass interference call on Javon Wims, which nullified a 2-yard touchdown pass to Terry Godwin and forced Georgia to settle for Blankenship’s field goal rather than the six points. And the penalties continued to pile up in the second half as Elijah Holyfield, lining up at fullback in the absence of injured Christian Payne, was cited for an illegal block below the waist, and both David Marshall and Dominick Sanders were whistled for face mask infractions.
SPECIAL TEAMS WINS VS. MISCUES
Junior tackle DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle had a clutch block of a Daniel Carlson 31-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter which, if successful, would have enabled Auburn to tie the game at 10-10, Blankenship was true on both his field goal tries, from 27 and 35 yards and boomed touchbacks on five of his six kickoffs and Cameron Nizialek averaged 44.0 yards on his four punts.
In limiting Tiger tailback Kerryon Johnson to just 44 yards on 13 carries and the Auburn offense to only 259 total yards, the Bulldog defenders were on point with their tackling once again although they did allow Auburn QB Stidham to break containment at times and convert first downs.
All-America inside linebacker Roquan Smith, with his 13 tackles, recovered two Auburn fumbles, one caused by Davin Bellamy when he sacked Stidham and the other when Lorenzo Carter separated Kerryon Johnson from the ball early in the fourth quarter, which led to a 7-yard touchdown pass from Fromm to Godwin. The Bulldogs played turnover-free ball in the title game victory.
RED ZONE (OFFENSE/DEFENSE)
The Bulldogs were again nearly perfect in this area, getting points four times with two touchdowns and two field goals, in their five trips into the red zone. Auburn moved inside the Georgia 20 just three times, scoring their only touchdown on the game’s opening drive.
Well, these weren’t good numbers for Georgia as the Bulldogs could convert first downs only two times in 11 opportunities. The Tigers were 4-of-13 in third-down conversions.
RUN/PASS ATTEMPTS (TOTAL PLAYS)
The Bulldogs, like they did in the 38-7 win at Georgia Tech, displayed good run-pass balance. They ran the ball 41 times for 238 yards and Fromm was 16-of-22 passing for 183 yards and his two touchdowns. That’s a total of 63 plays for 421 yards. As mentioned, the Tigers were checked to 259 yards by the gang-tackling Bulldogs, on also 63 plays.
Recent Articles by Murray Poole