UGA Football

No. 1 Georgia escapes South Carolina, stays unbeaten

Georgia running back Nick Chubb (27) runs down the sideline for a first down during the first half of the game against South Carolina Saturday.
Georgia running back Nick Chubb (27) runs down the sideline for a first down during the first half of the game against South Carolina Saturday. The Telegraph

It wasn’t easy but Georgia managed to stay unbeaten against a pesky SEC East rival.

South Carolina never allowed the No. 1 Bulldogs to pull away in their first week atop the College Football Playoff rankings. But in the end, Georgia was able to hold on and secure a 24-10 win over the Gamecocks.

Georgia (9-0, 6-0 SEC) was led by running back Nick Chubb on the ground. Chubb took 13 of his 20 carries in the second half while salting away a tough win over South Carolina. The senior from Cedartown totaled 91 rushing yards in the game.

The Gamecocks (6-3, 4-3) were intent on slowing down Georgia’s rushing attack early, which opened things up for freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. Fromm completed nine of his first 11 throws and finished the game 16-of-22 passing for 196 yards and two touchdowns.

Four who mattered

Chubb: This was the first time all season that Chubb carried the ball more than 16 times in a game. The Bulldogs figured to have a four-quarter game again at some point and got one against South Carolina. Chubb reeled off quite a few long runs including one that went for 27 yards.

Fromm: With South Carolina showing single coverage on the outside, Fromm was asked to throw more than 20 passes for only the third time this season. South Carolina defensive back Chris Lammons said UGA “can’t pass” entering the week and Fromm made him pay for that comment. Fromm completed 72.7 percent of his passes in the win.

Georgia inside linebacker Roquan Smith: Smith was once again his play-making self on the defensive side of the ball. He recorded a sack on an inside blitz and totaled nine tackles during the game.

South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley: Not many quarterbacks have been able to move the ball on Georgia’s defense this season. Bentley seemed to keep finding away to keep possessions alive. Bentley’s day ended with a stat line of 21-of-35 passing for 227 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Turning point

The game truly wasn’t in hand until cornerback Deandre Baker broke up a pass from Bentley on fourth-and-2 with 4:52 remaining in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Malkom Parrish sealed the deal with an interception with 1:49 left in the game.

Observations

Four quarters: This marked the first time since Georgia’s 20-19 win over Notre Dame that the Bulldogs didn’t have a game in hand by the fourth quarter. Granted, Georgia entered the final period up 11 points, so there was a little cushion to work with. This game provided more of a test for the Bulldogs than perhaps a lot of people expected.

No running: A week after Florida found some success running the football, Georgia made sure the Gamecocks wouldn’t be able to do the same. Georgia forced Bentley to put the ball on his arm as South Carolina couldn’t find any running room between the tackles. That proved to be the difference because it allowed Georgia to control the game early and force South Carolina to play catch-up, even while the point differential wasn’t much. South Carolina mustered only 43 rushing yards. A week after going for a career-best 121 yards, A.J. Turner was held to 35 yards on the ground.

Sloppy beginning: Georgia rolled the dice early by opening the game with an onside kick. The play didn’t work as South Carolina was able to recover the ball at midfield. Georgia’s defense was able to hold and force a missed field goal on the drive. But the Bulldogs also had two early penalties for 25 yards and lost a fumble when receiver Terry Godwin had a ball punched out at the South Carolina 5-yard line. Georgia’s coaching staff will certainly stress the importance of taking care of the ball and eliminating mistakes throughout the next week of practice.

Worth mentioning

Nice vision: On his 8-yard touchdown run, Sony Michel displayed a great blend of patience and vision. It was a wildcat play with Michel taking a direct snap. He initially wanted to run up the middle but South Carolina did a good job of clogging the lanes. Michel then bounced the play outside and got a good block from quarterback Jake Fromm to get into the end zone.

Been a while: This is the first time since that Georgia has been 9-0 since 1982. In that campaign, the Bulldogs finished the regular season 11-0 and lost to Penn State in a de facto national title Sugar Bowl game.

What’s next?

Georgia hits the road next week to take on Auburn either at 3:30 or 7 p.m.

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