ATHENS -- The crowd was only a bit larger than a G-Day game in the spring. But those in Athens on Saturday saw what they needed to see.
This was an exhibition, and the home team did everything it needed to do to prepare for a potential classic matchup next week against the in-state rival.
Georgia beat Charleston Southern in the most predictable game in some time, which is a relief for a team that has had a few unpredictable games this season. No one could have predicted when Georgia beat Missouri 34-0 or shocked Auburn last week 34-7, and you’d be lying if you said you knew they’d crash and burn in Jacksonville against Florida three weeks ago.
But beating the Buccaneers 55-9 on Saturday was expected. And for a defense that will face a tougher triple-option team in Georgia Tech next week, it was a good tune-up.
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“This was definitely a great chance for us and some of the guys who have never played a college triple-option team,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “I feel like a lot of the guys will have an idea of what it will be like next week against Tech. If you keep your eyes on your guys, you can shut them down. If you take your eyes off of them, they’ll get a touchdown like they did in the fourth.”
It took Georgia 30 years to find the next best thing to Herschel Walker. But it took the Bulldogs only a few weeks to find the next best thing to Todd Gurley. Nick Chubb added to his legacy Saturday with 113 yards on nine carries, including the longest touchdown by a Georgia running back since 1985 when he bolted for an 83-yard score.
Said center David Andrews, “The kid is special. I think we all knew that. When you have Todd and someone as good as Todd, a lot of people get overlooked. Things happened, and Chubb got his chance to shine, and he really took advantage of it.”
Chubb’s storyline is the most unexpected of the season. No one would have believed someone other than Gurley would lead Georgia in rushing this season. But during the past six games, Chubb has rushed for 928 yards. That’s 154.7 yards per game, and if he did that during the course of a full regular season schedule, Chubb would have 1,856 yards.
“I don’t think we’re as surprised as other people are because we’ve seen him work in practice and we’ve seen him run and do things in the offseason,” wide receiver Chris Conley said. “From that point, we knew he was going to be a player. We knew he was going to be a playmaker.”
And now next Saturday, Chubb and the Bulldogs will face Georgia Tech in a battle of running games. Georgia Tech averages 327 yards per game on the ground, while Georgia averages 260 rushing yards a game. It will be a game between two teams at 9-2, both hungry for win No. 10 of the season. It’s the best record for both teams entering this game this century.
“After the way the game has been the last couple of years, and especially after last year, I feel like those guys really want revenge,” Jenkins said. “It’s definitely going to be heated. Whenever we get together on the field, it’s going to be a brawl.”
Said Conley, “So much hangs on this game. It’s a true rivalry, one that people talk about all year and that we hear about all year. There is 100 percent focus on Tech now. There is no looking past them. This is our opponent. In order to get where we want to go, we’ve got to go through Tech. Our mind is set and ready for another war. We don’t want any drama.
“It’s always a game that is brutal. It’s literally brutal. It’s heart-pounding, pads clashing. I don’t expect anything less this year. I expect it to be a bloody war.”
And with words like brawl and war, we should get plenty of drama. It should be football at its very best. It should be clean, old-fashioned hate.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at www.twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.