ATHENS — Georgia’s defense made a resounding statement in its home opener, smothering Auburn in a 27-6 win.
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (2-0) jumped out to a 24-0 lead and stayed in control throughout, smothering the No. 7-ranked Tigers’ offense from start to finish.
Georgia out-gained Auburn 442 yards to 216, scoring on its first four drives.
Bo Nix was 21-of-41 passing for 177 yards with an interception, and he was sacked three times. Auburn was held to 39 yards rushing on 22 carries.
“I think everyone is recalibrating their analysis on Georgia from what they saw from Week 1 to Week 2,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said during the broadcast. “This Georgia defense, we knew they were good, and they were playing with a ton of confidence.”
Indeed, so much so that championship expectations for Georgia are back on the national media’s radar.
“This is the kind of Georgia we thought we would see this season,” ESPN play-by-play man Chris Fowler said. “A playoff container.”
Georgia has a long way to go, though, the reloaded offense took another positive step forward.
Redshirt junior Stetson Bennett was 17-of-28 passing for 240 yards and a touchdown, an efficient 7-of-10 passing for 109 yards on third-down throws.
“It’s so easy to play offense when the defense plays like they dd,” Bennett said. “Being able to be comfortable is easy, because I’m surrounded by great players and the offensive line gives me time.”
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday at home against No. 21 Tennessee (2-0). The Vols have won eight straight dating back to last season.
FOURTH QUARTER SCORING
• Jack Podlesny misses 43-yard field goal.
THIRD QUARTER SCORING
• Mark Webb interception on Georgia 11-yard line returned to Bulldogs’ 24 on final play of third quarter.
Georgia 27, Auburn 6 (5:51): Jack Podlesny 25-yard field goal. Drive: 10 plays 67 yards, 4:18. Key play: John Fitzpatrick 18-yard catch on first-and-10 at Georgia 37.
Georgia 24, Auburn 6 (10:09): Anders Carlson 45-yard field goal. Drive: 15 plays, 54 yards, 4:46.
Georgia 7.1 yards average per play on first downs
Auburn 1.7 yard average per play on first downs
Stetson Bennett 12-22 passing, 158 yards
Kearis Jackson 7 catches, 104 yards
Zamir White 17 carries, 76 yards
288 total yards for UGA, 81 for Auburn
SECOND QUARTER SCORING
Georgia 24, Auburn 3 (1:38): Anders Carlson 20-yard field goal; Drive: 12 plays, 65 yards, 4:40. Key play: Personal foul call on Richard LeCounte on third-and-13 at Georgia 15.
• 3:49 Richard LeCounte ejected for personal foul, shoulder to helmet hit. Chris Smith replaces him at safety.
Georgia 24, Auburn 0 (6:26): Zamir White 1-yard run. Drive: 6 plays, 72 yards, 3:27. Key play: Stetson Bennett to Kearis Jackson for 49 yards to Auburn 12-yard line.
• 8:42 James Cook goes to locker room to have right arm examined after 16-yard run
Georgia 17, Auburn 0 (11:08): George Pickens 21-yard pass from Stetson Bennett (Jack Podlesny kick); Drive: 11 plays, 84 yards, 5:26.
Key play: Stetson Bennett to Kearis Jackson for 17 yards on third-and-4 at UGA 22.
Notes: Georgia 130 yards, Auburn 39
Georgia 4-6 third downs, Auburn 0-3
Bennett 7-14, 65 yards, Nix 3-6 22 yards
UGA 12 carries, 65 yards, Auburn 5 carries, 17 yards
FIRST QUARTER SCORING
Georgia 10, Auburn 10 (4:00): Jack Podlesny 21-yard field goal. Drive: 11 plays, 59 yards, 3:56. Key play: Stetson Bennett to Kearis Jackson for 16 yards on third-and-2 at Auburn 20.
Georgia 7, Auburn 0 (9:31): Zamir White 1-yard run (Jack Podlesny kick), Drive: 10 plays 43 yards, 2:56. Key play: Stetson Bennett 17-yard pass to Kearis Jackson on third-and-10 at Auburn 32.
Note: Defensive tackle Jalen Carter was lead blocker on White TD run.
• 12:27 Auburn safety Smoke Monday ejected, targeting on punt coverage hit on Kearis Jackson
Georgia receives opening kick
LSU 41, Vanderbilt 7 Final
Arkansas 21, Mississippi State 14 Final
Fans saying it looks like Georgia has 40-to-50 percent capacity. Deputy AD Josh Brooks did his own pattern to make it look that way.
• Stetson Bennett has been announced over the PA as the starting QB
• TE Tre McKitty is dressed and went through warmups
• Per reports, Auburn CB Jaylin Simpson is out due to an injury
Georgia opened with a 37-10 win at Arkansas that wasn’t nearly as impressive as the final score. The Bulldogs did not take their first lead in the game until there was 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
Smart made it clear Auburn brings a different level of concern.
“Our schedule is obviously front loaded,” Smart said. “It’s one of those you better be ready to go, it’s not a year you want to walk into without spring practice.
“Auburn always has a great defense, Kevin Steele does a great job, so when you walk into the Week Two, it’s welcome to the SEC.”
It’s the sixth time the teams have met both ranked in Top 10.
Georgia captains: Monty Rice, Tyson Campbell, Zamir White.
Georgia defensive legend David Pollack picked the Bulldogs because of their defensive dominance the past three games in the series.
Auburn hasn’t led in the second half of any of the last three games, dating back to the 2017 SEC Championship game. The Tigers have trailed on 74 percent of their offensive snaps in those three games.
“To me, it’s all about Georgia’s defense, this defense has suffocated this Auburn offense year after year,” Pollack said on College GameDay. “I think they can create turnovers and make bigs plays, (and) Georgia’s offense makes enough big plays at home to get the win.”
Lee Corso also picked UGA to win, but Desmond Howard picked Auburn.
Jordan Rodgers’ key to game
“Seth Williams is a problem, he’s a walking mismatch,” Rodgers said of the Tiger’s go-to receiver. “He has the speed to beat you over the top, and at 6-foot-3, with 10 1/4-inch hands, he’s got the ability to go up and over anybody in this conference and make plays.
“You watch the Kentucky film, that’s all he did. Bo Nix has a great amount of trust that he can make any play, anywhere on the football field,” He said. “Chad Morris is calling plays that are complimentary — that attack the middle of the field … the Seth Williams effect is a major factor.
“Watch this matchup against Georgia, it’s going to decide the game.”
Richard LeCounte Defensive QB
SEC analyst Roman Harper said Richard LeCounte is his favorite player, and he discussed how the Bulldogs’ safety has picked off four passes in the past two games.
“If I’m Richard LeCounte, all week long I’m telling that cornerback, ‘Hey look the first time you see that quarterback break out of his pocket to his right, you know one receiver will try to work back to the quarterback, and someone will run deep,’” Harper explained.
“So you stay under the receiver, you dangle that fruit out there so now he thinks he’s going to have a deep route, and I’m coming over the top, I’m going to make that play.”
The Line: Georgia is a 7 1/2-point favorite.
–@colecubelic predicts Auburn will beat Georgia 14-10, citing the advantage Kevin Steele’s defense has attacking a Georgia offense with a re-shuffled line and questions at quarterback.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) October 2, 2020
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) October 1, 2020
“They lose two of the best players they’ve ever had up front in Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson, but kept a lot of depth on the D-Line and that’s where they’re going to try to win games.”
–@JFergusonAU believes Auburn’s D-Line will reload and stay dominant this year
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) September 23, 2020