Georgia football asserted itself in a most physical way, coming from behind to beat South Carolina 24-14.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs won their 20th consecutive game and 21st in a row at Sanford Stadium, but nothing came easy on this rainy Saturday afternoon.
Carson Beck led the comeback from 14-3 down, finishing 27-of-35 passing for 269 yards as UGA out-gained the Gamecocks 459-292.
The game had a much different complexion at halftime, and the wheels were spinning hard for Georgia coach Kirby Smart as he headed into halftime down 11 points
“We get the ball first,” Smart said he told Beck as he walked his quarterback off the field at halftime, “and that’s big.”
So was Smart’s leadership and coaching staff, as the Bulldogs showed why they are No. 1 by flipping the switch at halftime.
Georgia was under all sorts of pressure, its nation-high 20-game home win streak on the line along with its 19-game overall win streak as the CBS’ national television audience looked on.
Not only was this South Carolina audience really happening, but Spencer Rattler was dissecting a UGA defense missing CFP Defensive MVP Javon Bullard 16-of-18 passing for 152 yards and a TD at the half.
Rattler was nowhere near as effective in the second half -- just 6-of-24 passing over the last 30 minutes -- and finished 22-of-42 passing for 256 with two interceptions.
The Georgia coaches had indeed adjusted at halftime, and the players recommitted.
The results of those adjustments were instantaneous in the third quarter on offense and defense in front of the sold-out crowd at Sanford Stadium.
Beck completed three consecutive passes to open the second half to transfer receivers Dominic Lovett (2) and Rara Thomas, moving the ball into South Carolina territory.
Kendall Milton powered for 15 yards, and then Daijun Edwards (20 carries, 118 yards) ran for 3 and finally 7, standing up as he crossed into the end zone to cut the lead to 14-10.
The Georgia defense was next up and stepped up, Mykel Williams sacking Rattler back at the South Carolina 4-yard line to help force the Gamecocks first three-and-out of the afternoon.
Smart made sure his Bulldogs’ offense rode that momentum, gambling on Beck to convert a fourth-and-1 at the South Carolina 28.
The play provided a boost as Edwards broke off an 8-yard run, Lovett gathered a 14-yard pass and Dillon Bell raced into the end zone for a 3-yard TD to put Georgia back out front.
The Bulldogs salted the game away on their second series of the fourth quarter when Cash Jones scored on a 10-yard TD run with 9:10 left to put Georgia up two scores at 24-14.