ATHENS — Stetson Bennett sounded a little bit like Justin Timberlake’s character in The Social Network. The 37-14 win over Georgia Tech moved Georgia to 12-0 on the season, giving the Bulldogs back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons.
But going undefeated in the regular season isn’t cool, much like one million dollars wasn’t in the 2010 movie about the start of Facebook. Not when you’re in Georgia and looking to go back-to-back in winning national championships.
“We work for it. Coaches work for it. Players work for it,” Bennett said. “We didn’t come to this season trying to go 12-0. We tried to go 15-0.” We got another step ahead of us next week in Atlanta. But it is special.”
Saturday was Bennett’s final home game. The quote above was the closest Bennett got to being sentimental about all that he’s accomplished in his time at Georgia.
That can be chalked up to the poor first-half performance by the Bulldogs. Georgia gave up its first first-quarter touchdown of the season on the defensive side of the ball. Georgia then went 3-and-out on its first offensive possession and Georgia had just 10 points at halftime.
Bennett thought the pregame festivities played some role in Georgia’s slow start. He finished the game completing 10 of his 18 pass attempts for two touchdowns. But nearly 60 percent of his 140 passing yards came on a fourth-quarter pass to Kenny McIntosh.
“I’m not a real big fan of senior day honestly,” Bennett said. “It is hard to play in and I’ve had to do it freakin’ twice now.”
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Still, Georgia won as it often has with Bennett under center. The Bulldogs are now 26-3 with Bennett as the starting quarterback. They’ve been the No. 1 ranked team for much of the season, with Bennett playing at his best in Georgia’s biggest games against the likes of Oregon and Tennessee.
“Incredible impact. He’s a leader, he’s tough, a competitor. He’s just been around for what seems like forever now,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He embodies our team with his competitive toughness. He’s got to keep doing the things he’s doing for us to be successful. We know we’ve got to play better on really all three phases, better than we did today, if we want to get where we want to go.”
Bennett is now 2-0 as the starting quarterback as a senior on senior day, perhaps best illustrating the long, strange journey Bennett has been on since first got on campus back in 2016. The extra senior day came in part because of the extra year of eligibility granted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
When Bennett arrived at Georgia in the fall of 2017, the idea of winning a national championship was just a dream for this program. Georgia went 8-5 in 2016. As he played his final game at Sanford Stadium, it’s become a near expectation.
Georgia is one of just three remaining unbeaten teams and well-positioned to make the College Football Playoff for the second season in a row.
Bennett has undoubtedly left Georgia in a better position than when he found it as a freshman walk-on. He gave a sly smile when a reporter asked if he had ever dreamed of himself being in this position as a walk-on. As hard as it is for some to believe, Bennett always did.
The program has gotten to the point where an unbeaten regular season is special and cool but not the ultimate goal for this program.
Especially with this group knowing it’s a possibility with Bennett under center.
“It’s a proud moment for us. We put a lot of work in during the offseason leading up to every week,” linebacker Smael Mondon said. “It’s a good way for the seniors to go out in this stadium. It’s good to send them out with a win.”
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett not happy with his senior day performance
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