Atlanta, GA —The Georgia Bulldogs are playing lights out and trying to stay on course for their second National Championship.
QB Stetson Bennett threw for 23-of-29 for 274 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 1 Georgia (13-0) past No. 14 LSU (9-4,) 50-30, on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“I’ve got good players around me. I’m not that bad at football, either,” Bennett said with a smile. “We’ve got a good team.”
LSU, now have to await for their bowl destination, which will be announced on Sunday.
Georgia got on the board first when Damian Ramos’ field goal attempt was blocked and returned by Christopher Smith 96 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 3:33 left in the first quarter.
Jayden Daniels responded quickly with a 53-yard touchdown catch over the middle of the field to Kayshon Boutte, tying the game at 7 with 2:21 in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs reclaimed the lead with a seven play drive that spanned 75 yards with Brock Bowers catching 3-yard touchdown pass. UGA led the Tigers 14-7 with three seconds left in the quarter. LSU outgained Georgia 158 to 76 in total yards as the first quarter ended.
The Dawgs added to their lead as Bennett found Darnell Washington over the middle of the field for a 14-yard touchdown, extending the Bulldog lead to 28-7 with 2:48 remaining to go to the break.
On their next offensive possession, Bennett found Dillon Bell for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds to play in the half, the Dawgs led the Tigers, 35-7.
Ramos’ 42-yard attempt was good, making it 35-10 as time expired in the first half.
With 11:24 to play in the third, Bennett fumbled the exchange in the backfield, which was recovered by Jaquelin Roy at the LSU 43-yard line.
“I don’t want one kid to walk out of our program without an SEC championship ring in their careers,” coach Kirby Smart said. “That could’ve happened. They said enough is enough and got ’em one tonight.”
The Dawgs heads into the playoff assured of a return trip to Atlanta for a semifinal home game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, just 75 miles from its Athens campus.
Quarterback Garret Nussmeier provided a spark for the offense in replacement for an injured Jayden Daniels, finishing 15-of-27 for 294 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Nussmeier entered the game for Daniels and completed two passes that led to a quick scoring drive. Nussmeier found Boutte over the middle for a 20-yard completion to the UGA 37–yard line, then found Nabers for a 34-yard touchdown reception, trimming the deficit to 35-17 at 10:33.
Nussmeier played unconscious, connecting with Nabers for a 59-yard pickup over the middle of the field on the next possession, moving the ball to the Georgia 14. But, on 4-thand-inches, Williams was stopped short for no gain, forcing a turnover on downs with 7:59 to play in the third quarter.
Georgia answered back for their first score of the second half as Kenny McIntosh bolted up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown, extending the Dawgs lead to 42-17 at the 3:32 mark. The drive almost covered the length of the field, going 95 yards on eight plays, spanning 4:27. UGA never looked back after that.
“I’ve tried not to pay attention to any of it,” Smart said of all the chaos. “It didn’t matter to me. That’s so far away.”
UGA accomplished something that not even last season’s national championship squad could could do — win its first SEC title since 2017. The Bulldogs were denied in this game a year ago by Alabama, before bouncing back to beat the Crimson Tide in the title game.
LSU: The Tigers get their postseason assignment Sunday, with the Citrus Bowl among the possibilities.
Georgia: The only question is who the Bulldogs will meet in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve, with TCU, Ohio State and SEC rival Alabama all in the conversation.