ATLANTA — It didn’t matter. Then again, it mattered a lot.
Beat Georgia Tech or not, Georgia was headed to the SEC Championship Game with a chance to reach the College Football Playoff. But winning in a 38-7 blowout as the No. 7-ranked Bulldogs did on Saturday surely will send them to Mercedes-Benz Stadium 1.6 miles south of here with a much better vibe, not to mention a ton of confidence.
In the SEC title game, they’ll face the winner of No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Auburn, which will conclude later Saturday evening.
With the victory, Georgia (11-1) improved to 4-0 on its unofficial Revenge Tour that has been the 2017 season. The win avenged last year’s 28-27 loss to the Yellow Jackets in Athens. The Bulldogs also reversed results this season against Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida.
Georgia’s last victory of the regular season was thorough and dominant. Georgia Tech’s vaunted triple-option offense was held to 188 yards rushing, 226 total and a measly 12 first downs. Conversely, Georgia’s offense had 471 total yards and was as balanced as we’ve seen all season with 247 rushing and 224 passing.
“Proud as hell,” coach Kirby Smart said afterward.
Tailbacks Sony Michel (13 rushes, 85 yards), Nick Chubb (12-53) and D’Andre Swift (4-37) each had touchdown runs. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm checked out early with 224 yards on 12-of-16 passing and 2 touchdowns. The highlight was a 78-yard pass to Ahkil Crumpton with 11:21 to play. That was Fromm’s longest TD pass of the season. Sophomore Jacob Eason, the starter at the beginning of the year, finished the game for the Bulldogs.
It might not have seemed so at the time, but the biggest play of the game might’ve occurred at the end of the first half — a 23-yard pass completion to Javon Wims. It wasn’t the greatest job of clock management one will ever witness, but that and a spike were the last plays in a 50-yard drive in 48 seconds to get a 37-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship as time expired in the first half.
The key play on the drive was the 23-yard pass to Wims to get the Bulldogs into field goal range. In between, Fromm was slow to spike, Isaac Nauta failed to get out of bounds, and Kirby Smart was delinquent in stopping the clock at the end of Georgia Tech’s previous possession, which resulted in a touchdown. Nevertheless, Georgia overcame it all to get ahead by two scores at halftime and with the ball coming its way to start the second half.
The Bulldogs failed to capitalize on their first possession of the second half. But after a critical defensive stop, Georgia went 77 yards in 6 plays and scored on Michel’s nifty 4-yard run to effectively put the game out of reach for its deliberate-moving hosts. As it turned out, Georgia Tech never scored again.