ATHENS — Georgia’s preseason concluded here at Sanford Stadium Saturday night. The real season will begin next Saturday against Mississippi State.
At least that’s what it feels like. The Bulldogs’ 42-14 victory over Samford Saturday — and the ones over Notre Dame and Appalachian State the previous two weekends — did actually count, of course. So Georgia is in fact 3-0.
But so is Mississippi State (3-0, 1-0), and the Maroon Bulldogs come in here to Sanford Stadium fresh off an impressive dismantling of No. 12-ranked LSU, 37-7, in their SEC opener in Starkville Saturday. Coming here with ol’ State is a red-hot quarterback from Georgia in Nick Fitzgerald and a defensive coordinator who used to work here, Todd Grantham.
That will represent the first of eight consecutive SEC games the Bulldogs will play this season. So, yeah, NOW is when the real season gets started.
Georgia did what it was expected to do against Samford, a strategically-planned visitor from the Football Championship Subdivision. Nick Chubb and the Bulldogs essentially ran over Samford on offense and overwhelmed the pass-happy club on defense.
Chubb checked out for the day early in the third quarter with 131 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. It was 19th time Chubb gained 100 or more yards in a game, which ranks second in school history to Herschel Walker (28). The Bulldogs had 265 yards on the ground and 419 yards overall. by the end of the third quarter.
There was a brief moment, after getting up 21-0, that the Bulldogs’ defense found itself on its heels against the quick-paced “Hatch Attack” offense of Samford coach Chris Hatcher. Quarterback Devlin Hodges runs it quite well and led the visiting Bulldogs on a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive early in the second quarter.
Samford got the ball right back deep in Georgia territory after a Jake Fromm fumble. But the Bulldogs bowed up, forced a field goal try, then J.R. Reed blocked it to thwart the threat. Samford’s offense went queit until it met the Georgia backups in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs got another confidence boost 1,000 miles in the Northeast on Saturday. It was there in Chestnut Hill, Mass., that Notre Dame defeated Boston College 49-20, a bit of validation that Georgia’s 20-19 victory over the Fighting Irish in South Bend last weekend might’ve been as good as it looked.
Then again, that was way back during the preseason.