Bill Shanks

Bulldogs answered the challenge by the Gamecocks

Georgia running back Sony Michel (1) celebrates a touchdown during their game against South Carolina Saturday.
Georgia running back Sony Michel (1) celebrates a touchdown during their game against South Carolina Saturday. The Telegraph

No one ever said this winning stuff was going to be easy. Beating your last six opponents by an average margin of 31.3 points per game might make a team think that. It might make them feel every game would be the same.

The Georgia players likely knew better. They won’t complain, however, about a 14-point victory. Blowouts are nice, but a win is a win.

The Bulldogs were challenged Saturday by South Carolina, a team that had a 6-2 record coming in. When you’re beating other teams at will, getting challenged can be a surprised, but not after being named the number one team in the country.

Every team Georgia plays will be gunning for them, and you can bet former Georgia safety and current South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp wanted nothing more than to waltz his team into Sanford Stadium Saturday and ruin Georgia’s undefeated season.

It didn’t happen. Georgia held off the feisty Gamecocks for a 24-10 win and kept the magic going for at least another week. Next Saturday, someone else, Auburn, will try again. It will be on the road, and it should be even more of a challenge for the Bulldogs than Saturday.

Georgia didn’t play great, but it wasn’t like it was a horrible performance, either. They just played a tougher team that played hard. The line coming in was 24 points, and that would’ve been hard for any team to cover just a few days after being named number one.

That’s something the Georgia players will have to now deal with for a while. Can the Bulldogs handle the pressure of such a lofty recognition? Can they deal with being expected to be perfect?

Georgia didn’t have to blow South Carolina out. They don’t have to blow every team out. They just need to win, period. The had 438 offensive yards, but no, they didn’t score six points every time they got into the red zone – for a change.

That’s okay. They still won.

The Bulldogs ran the ball on offense and then let their defense do the rest. Sure, Jake Bentley, South Carolina’s quarterback, made some passes and made things uncomfortable at times. But how can you complain about holding a team to 10 points?

If this undefeated season is to continue, Georgia will likely have a game even scarier than this one. They may have to make that big pass, or come up with the big stop when the game is on the line. They may be practicing for it with these games they’re having now.

The Georgia offense had a balanced attack, only days after South Carolina safety Chris Lammons said, “They can’t pass.” Well, don’t poke the bear, or don’t poke Jake Fromm. Georgia’s freshman quarterback was 7-for-9 in the first quarter for 76 yards and finished with 16 completions on 22 attempts for 196 yards. Once again, the pride of Warner Robins did very well.

The defense had to contend with a very good tight end for the first time this season. South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst had seven catches for 93 yards. Expect Georgia to work on defending big tight ends this week.

But when the game was winding down, the savages, as the Georgia defenders who do well are called, made another big play. Malkom Parrish picked off Bentley and the game was over. The defense would just not let South Carolina get anything going on offense, which is something we’re used to seeing after nine games.

It wasn’t a blowout, but it was good enough. Georgia didn’t play their best game of the season, but they survived. That’s what great teams do, they just win, even if a blowout is off the table.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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