One reason I prefer to be in the stadium, rather than in front of a television, when the Georgia Bulldogs are playing a football game is that I find such outings are less stressful when I am present. Though I know my cheers and exhortations contribute only minimally to the din, I nevertheless feel like I am doing my small part, which makes me less nervous, which allows me to watch the game unfold with a sense of confidence instead of a sense of panic.
Consequently, I viewed the Red and Black’s back-and-forth battle with the Missouri Tigers as a competitive contest that Jarvis Jones made appear more lopsided than it was until chuckdawg disabused me of that notion. Because I returned home so late---traffic was terrible, and, after staying to the glorious finish, my son wanted to go ring the Chapel bell, which, of course, we did---I have not yet read chuckdawg’s postgame takes, but, from my seat in Sanford Stadium, I saw a game unfold that never had me worried.
Even when the ‘Dawgs were down, 10-0, in the second quarter, my thought was, “We’re going to let Ole Miss hang around longer than we should”; I never was concerned that the Mississippi Rebels might beat the Classic City Canines, though. The numbers bear out my lack of discomfort.
Georgia nearly doubled up the Rebels in first downs (23-12) and more than doubled up the visitors in total offense (533-234). The Bulldogs converted seven of 15 third downs while halting Ole Miss eleven times on 13 third-down tries. The Black Bears were limited to 46 rushing yards on 29 attempts on a day on which Todd Gurley turned 18 carries into 117 yards.
Aaron Murray was ruthlessly efficient, connecting on 21 of 28 passes for 384 yards, no interceptions, and touchdown strikes of 66 yards to Marlon Brown, 40 yards to Tavarres King, 42 yards to Malcolm Mitchell, and 23 yards to Rantavious Wooten. Included among those achievements were some sensible scrambles to keep plays alive and turn negatives into positives, plus a hidden ball play worthy of David Greene.
Notwithstanding a missed Marshall Morgan field goal attempt from 47 yards away, the Bulldogs at least appeared competent on special teams. The defense pitched a second-half shutout, notched a third-quarter safety following a 48-yard Collin Barber punt, and, in a remarkable five-play stretch in the second quarter, erased a pair of Georgia fumbles with a forced fumble by Bacarri Rambo, a recovery and return by Damian Swann, and an acrobatic Alec Ogletree interception.
In short, on an unseasonably mild homecoming afternoon, the Red and Black overcame a slow start and the expected letdown, avoided a 1976-style loss to Ole Miss following an enormous conference victory, won by a suitably sizable margin against a dangerous opponent that scored more points and surrendered fewer against the reportedly invincible Alabama Crimson Tide, and set the stage for a 2002-like battle on the Plains in the
Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry to determine whether the Bulldogs win the Eastern Division. You know what? I’ll take that every day of the week, and twice on Saturday.