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ATHENS — The Alabama offensive onslaught was too much for Georgia to handle on Saturday night in Bryant Denny Stadium.
The No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide rolled up 564 yards against the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs’ veteran defense en route to a 41-24 victory.
Georgia held a 24-20 lead at the half, but Alabama converted two third-quarter interceptions into touchdown drives to take control of the game, out-scoring UGA 21-0 in the second half.
The Tide’s explosive receivers were able to get free before the Bulldogs’ pressure could get to Jones on too many occasions, particularly DeVonta Smith.
Smith, a one-time UGA commit known best for his game-winning TD catch in the 2017 CFP Championship Game against the Bulldogs, had 11 catches for 167 yards.
Jaylen Waddle was just as much trouble, catching 6 passes for 161 yards including a 90-yard touchdown with 4 minutes left in the third quarter that gave the Tide a 27-24 advantage, a lead it would not relinquish.
Tide quarterback Mac Jones was 24-of-32 passing for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Najee Harris rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett was 18-of-40 for 269 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions and had five passes batted down at the line.
James Cook showed his explosive abilities too, catching four passes for 101 yards including an 82-yard touchdown catch from Bennett that gave Georgia a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
Alabama’s Nick Saban, cleared to coach earlier in the day after a third straight negative COVID-19 test, moved to 22-0 against his former assistants.
Georgia is off this week. The SEC moved back Georgia’s previously scheduled game with Kentucky to Oct. 31 on account of COVID-19 cases at Florida.
• Jack Podlesny misses 35-yard field goal, 6:05
Alabama 41, Georgia 24, (9:32): DeVonta Smith 13-yard pass from Mac Jones (Will Reichard kick). Drive: 10 plays, 45 yards, 5:16. Key play: Stetson Bennett interception at midfield, Bama starts drive at UGA 45.
Alabama 34, Georgia 24, (0:51): Najee Harris 3-yard run (Will Reichard kick). Drive: 5 plays, 56 yards, 1:58. Key play: Eric Stokes pass interference in end zone on third-and-9 at 10, automatic first down at 3.
• Stetson Bennett intercepted at Alabama 2
• Kearis Jackson changes to jersey 30.
Alabama 27, Georgia 24, (4:00): Jaylen Waddle 90-yard catch from Mac Jones (Will Reichard kick). Drive: Two plays, 91 yards, 0:49. Key play: Mac Jones throw beats blitz, Tyson Campbell slips in coverage.
Nick Saban halftime quote: “If we do what we’re supposed to do and we execute, we’re ok.”
HALFTIME Georgia 24, Alabama 20
Georgia 24, Alabama 20, (0.00): Will Reichard 52-yard field goal. Drive: Five plays, 41 yards, :23.
Georgia 24, Alabama 17, (0:23): Jermaine Burton 5-yard pass from Stetson Bennett, (Jack Podlesny kick). Drive: 12 plays, 66 yards, 2:43. Key play: Stetson Bennett hard count draws Alabama offsides on fourth-and-1 at Tide 10.
Georgia 17, Alabama 17, (3:06): DeVonta Smith 17-yard pass from Mac Jones (Will Reichard kick). Drive: 6 plays, 75 yards, 2:36. Key play: DeVonta Smith 16-yard catch from Mac Jones on third-and-9 at UGA 36.
Georgia 17, Alabama 10, (5:42): Jack Podlesny 50-yard field goal Drive: 10 plays, 44 yards, 3:18. Key play: George Pickens 19-yard catch from Stetson Bennett on third-and-2 at UGA 31.
Georgia 14, Alabama 10, (9:00): Will Reichard 33-yard field goal. Drive: 13 plays, 60 yards, 5:49. Key play: Jermaine Johnson sacks Mac Jones on third-and-3 at UGA 14. Eric Stokes defensive hold gives Bama first down at UGA 33.
Georgia 14, Alabama 7, (14:49): James Cook 86-yard TD catch from Stetson Bennett. Drive: Two plays, 86 yards, 13 seconds.
Georgia 7, Alabama 7, (1:53): Zamir White 9-yard run (Jack Podlesny kick). Drive: 8 plays, 57 yards, 2:40. Key play: James Cook 11-yard pass from Stetson Bennett on third-and-9 to Alabama 9.
Alabama 7, Georgia 0, (13:16): John Metchie 40-yard catch from Mac Jones, (Will Reichard kick). Drive: 3 plays, 58 yards, 52 seconds. Key play: Jaylen Waddle 16 pass from Mac Jones to Georgia 40.
• Richard LeCounte interception at Alabama 41, 14:46
• Stetston Bennett throws interception at Alabama 42, 14:08
Georgia captains Monty Rice, Azeez Ojulari, Jamaree Salyer
• Alabama DE starter LaBryan Ray and TE Carl Tucker not in pads in pregame warmups, both unlikely to play against Georgia, per TideSports.com. Ray is fourth on team in sacks.
Kirby Smart: “They do a lot of misdirections, they have a great counter game … we have to do a good job of keeping them from being explosive and do a good job keeping the ball away from them.”
• MLB Monty Rice in uniform leading team stretch
• QB JT Daniels no longer wearing a knee brace
• Betting line back up to Tide by six after Nick Saban news
• Demetris Robertson wearing the No. 80 at Alabama
(First Razorbacks SEC home win since 2016, Matt Corral 6 Ints)
(Guarantano two Pick-6s, UK first win in Knox since 1984)
(Carolina’s first win over Auburn since 1933; Bo Nix 3 picks)
(Miss. State with minus-2 yards rushing, Costello pulled)
Clemson led 52-0 at half
LSU at Florida (ppd.)
Dan Mullen tests positive for COVID-19
Vanderbilt at Missouri (postponed)
ATHENS — Stetson Bennett IV was a fourth-string quarterback when Georgia’s fall camp started, but tonight, he can become a legend.
Bennett, who began his UGA career as a walk-on before transferring to a junior college and then finally returning to Georgia before the 2019 on scholarship, seems ready for the moment.
“It’s been us and Alabama the last few years, it’s nothing really new,” Bennett was featured saying on a College GameDay promotion leading up to the 8 p.m. Saturday kickoff in Tuscaloosa.
Tide coach Nick Saban left no doubt about his thoughts on the game.
“This is going to be one of those toe-to-toe street-fight types games,” said Saban, who was cleared to coach in the game earlier on Saturday when he tested negative for COVID-19 for a third consecutive day.
“Who’s going to blink?”
Saban said the key to the game will be Alabama’s ability to attain offensive balance with run and pass.
“I think balance is the number one thing,” Saban said on College GameDay. “People have not been able to run the ball against Georgia. The ability to run the ball effectively and efficiently is important, because you can’t get behind in the down and distance.
“They have a lot of players when they start subbing six or seven players on third down — they have a lot of different packages that can cause you problems.”
Saban said getting the run game on track could help UGA avoid that.
“We want to stay out of those situations, if you can,” Saban said. “The best way to do that is with balance in your offense, so I think that’s going to be a real key. Control the line of scrimmage up front to some degree so we can run and pass, because we do have a lot of skill players.”
Stat for thought: Offensive Drive efficiency
Alabama 73% of drives end in scores; 53% end in touchdowns
Georgia 56% of drives end in scores; 33% end in touchdowns
Key stat for game: Turnovers
Georgia player to watch: TE Tre’ McKitty
Alabama player to watch: WR John Metchie