ATHENS – Coming into Saturday’s game, there was quite a bit of trepidation in Georgia’s camp about having to defend Georgia Tech’s triple option. Lost in the discussion, however, was the fact that the Yellow Jackets would have to defend Georgia.
They didn’t, or couldn’t.
As a result, the No. 5 Bulldogs cruised to a 45-21 victory in one of the most lopsided contests in the history of the rivalry that has come to be known as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.” Georgia beat Tech 51-7 in Atlanta in 2002 for the greatest margin in the 123-year-old series.
With the win, Georgia completed its second consecutive regular season at 11-1. Tech had won in its previous two trips to Sanford Stadium and three times since 2008. The Bulldogs now lead the series 67-39-5. It was the first time since 2012 the home team has won.
The Bulldogs will now face No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game next Saturday at 4 p.m. (TV: CBS; Radio: WSB 750-AM, 95.5 FM). The Crimson Tide (11-0) was facing archrival Auburn (7-4) in their annual regular-season finale known as the Iron Bowl Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa.
If anyone needs reminding, Bama and Georgia last met in last year’s National Championship Game and the Crimson Tide won 26-23 in overtime.
Georgia’s Jake Fromm was 13-of-16 passing to seven different receivers and finished with a career-best four touchdown passes as the Bulldogs rolled up 447 yards against Tech. The Bulldogs also got 106 yards rushing from D’Andre Swift and another 79 yards on nine carries by Elijah Holyfield. None came after the first possession of the second half.
Conversely, Tech managed just 66 yards of offense in the first half. The Yellow Jackets called a timeout and threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Brad Stewart with 28 seconds to play for the final margin.
Fromm’s last touchdown pass came 4:20 into the second half, this one a 4-yard throw to Riley Ridley, who caught two on the day.
The outcome was in doubt for all of about 2 1/2 minutes. That was how much game time that passed between a 100-yard kickoff return by Tech’s Juanyeh Thomas to cut Georgia’s lead to 14-7 at the end the first quarter and another Jake Fromm touchdown pass 2:04 into the second quarter. At that point, it was clear that the Yellow Jackets weren’t going to do much in the way of slowing down the Bulldogs.
Georgia would score touchdowns on its first five possessions of the game and settled for a field goal on its sixth only because the first half clock was getting ready to expire. Rodrigo Blankenship’s 25-yard field goal made it 38-7 as the halftime buzzer sounded.
The first-half numbers for the Bulldogs – and their defense – were other-worldly. Georgia gained 343 yards on 171 passing and 172 rushing, Fromm was 12-of-15 passing for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift each had 67 yards rushing.
Tech had 66 yards total offense and only four first downs.