ATLANTA — Very rarely can a football game be boiled down to one play. But that was the case in the 2022 SEC Championship game.
With Georgia leading 28-7, Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter had Jayden Daniels wrapped up for a sack. This is nothing new for Carter, who is one of the best players in college football.
Is it too late for Stetson Bennett to get an invite to New York?
The senior quarterback came up big for Georgia on Saturday, tossing a season-high four touchdown passes to four different wide receivers. Brock Bowers, Darnell Washington, Ladd McConkey and Dillon Bell all caught touchdown passes for the Bulldogs. Bennett completed 23 of his 29 pass attempts for 279 yards, providing to be ultra-efficient in the victory.
He did have a fumble due to miscommunication on Georgia’s opening drive of the second half. So it wasn’t a perfect performance from the Georgia quarterback. But it still was good enough to win MVP honors for the game.
In two games in Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season, the Bulldogs have scored 99 points, with Bennett throwing for 647 yards and scoring seven total touchdowns.
The game likely felt great for Bennett, given he was intercepted twice in a loss to Alabama. He finally gets his SEC championship, technically the second of his Georgia career as he was a walk-on for the 2017 team.
He played a much more important role for Georgia this time around, leading the Bulldogs as a starting quarterback and accomplishing the one thing he hadn’t in his Georgia career.
Georgia defense is lucky and good
USC played itself out of the College Football Playoff with a 47-24 loss to Utah. TCU is in for an interesting Sunday morning after it lost 31-28 to Kansas State in overtime.
But Georgia will have no such drama. The win over no. 14 LSU gives Georgia its fifth win over a team ranked in the top 25 of the College Football Playoff rankings. No. 2 Michigan by comparison, will have at most two on selection Sunday.
The Bulldogs had not been blowing teams like Kentucky and Georgia Tech out in recent weeks and there was some thought that Georgia might not come into the game ready to give it a maximum effort given it already had a playoff berth wrapped up.
But all week players talked about how important this game for this program, as the Bulldogs were beaten in last season’s SEC championship game against Alabama. Then Georgia went out there and backed it up on Saturday afternoon, showing that the “meaningless” game did in fact mean a good bit to the Bulldogs.
Georgia football news and notes
Georgia did see some key offensive contributors pick injuries. Warren McClendon left the game in the second quarter after he got rolled up on while in pass protection. McConkey also left the game after landing on his right knee. McClendon has started all 12 games for Georgia, while McConkey is Georgia’s leading wide receiver. Neither player returned to the game in the second half.
Smith’s return touchdown was the first non-offensive touchdown for Georgia since Kelee Ringo’s pick-six in the national championship game last season. It is the second touchdown of Smith’s career, as he had one against Clemson to open the 2021 season.
Georgia’s 35 first-half points tied the SEC championship game record.
The Bulldogs did not have Marvin Jones Jr. available on Saturday, as he was wearing a walking boot on his left foot. Arik Gilbert was also not with the team.
AD Mitchell did return to the lineup for Georgia. While he did not record a catch, he did play the most snaps he has since the season-opener against Oregon.
With the win, Georgia will now very likely play their next game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as it will host one of the College Football Playoff semifinals.
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