By Adesina O. Koiki
ATHENS, Ga. – One popular sports axiom goes that championship teams, among other qualities, possess the ability to win games despite not playing at their best on a given day. Judging by today’s outing today was Georgia’s turn to put that to the test.
Despite starting the game with a failed onside kick, turning over the ball in the red zone on its first offensive possession and scoring its lowest number of points since the second week of the season, the Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings released this past Tuesday, used their punishing run game and another stout defensive effort to defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks 24-10 at Sanford Stadium. The win, along with Kentucky’s loss at home to Ole Miss later in the day, clinched the SEC East Division title for the Bulldogs, its first division title since 2012.
On the offensive side of the ball, running back Nick Chubb had 102 of Georgia’s 242 yards on the ground as the Bulldogs controlled the ball for more than 38 minutes in time of possession. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm moves to 8-0 as a starter, as he completed 16 of 22 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
South Carolina (6-3, 4-3 SEC) was not able to take advantage of the early opportunities presented to them by the Bulldogs, highlighted by Parker White’s missed 46-yard field goal attempt on the possession after Georgia’s unsuccessful onside kick.
Georgia (9-0, 6-0 SEC) got on the board late in the first quarter, as Fromm completed a key third-down pass to Riley Ridley for seven yards to set up a first-and-goal. Running back Sony Michel scored on an 8-yard jaunt on the next play to give Georgia a 7-0 lead at the 2:21 mark of the first quarter.
That score was the first of three consecutive drives that ended in touchdowns, with the Gamecocks responding with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped off by a touchdown pass from Jake Bentley to Bryan Edwards from 12 yards out to tie the score at 7-7 early in the second.
Georgia then went on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of its own, with Fromm completing all three of his passes on the drive to go along with a 12-yard run. Fromm hit Javon Wims in the end zone from 10 yards out to give Georgia the lead it would enter halftime with, 14-7.
The only touchdown of the second half came on a Fromm pass down the left sideline to Mecole Hardman from 20 yards out on a third-and-four, giving Georgia a 21-7 lead after the first possession of the third quarter.
Georgia’s defense, coming into today’s game ranked third in the FBS at 11.9 points per game allowed, put the clamps on the Gamecocks’ offense in the second half, holding it to just 120 yards in the final two quarters. Georgia intercepted Bentley once in each half and only allowed 43 rushing yards all game to South Carolina.
No matter the lack of aesthetics in achieving the victory, Georgia got the job done, now starting 9-0 to a season for the first time since Herschel Walker was starring in the backfield back in 1982. Up next for the Bulldogs is a road showdown at No. 14 Auburn, who won in College Station against Texas A&M 24-27 earlier in the day.