Georgia came out and played a dominant first half to take care of business in Little Rock this afternoon. While one could certainly quibble with many things seen in the second half, from overly conservative playcalling by Mike Bobo early in the half to an apparent lack of effort in some quarters as the half wore on, one cannot quibble with the ultimate result of this two game westward road swing. The Bulldogs played two games against conference opponents without Todd Gurley, and somehow against all odds looked more dominant than they had all season. I'll take it.
Heck, I can't even get too mad about' Arkansas's second-half comeback for the simple fact that it came up short and thus will provide a consequence-free teaching moment for the young Bulldogs. It was fairly obvious that the Red and Black took their collective foot off the gas a little after the intermission. But at the same time a significant degree of credit must go to Bret Bielma's Arkansas team, which did not give up in the slightest. Certainly it must be frustrating for Razorback fans to lose a 16th consecutive SEC contest. However, anyone who watched this Razorbacks squad and watched the team during Bielema's first season has to see the significant difference.
The second half flurry by Arkansas ended up giving the Razorbacks significant advantages in both first downs and total yards. But Georgia racked up 207 rushing yards to Arkansas's 129 in this battle of the conference's top two rushing offenses. Nick Chubb's 30 carries for 202 yards made clear that even when Todd Gurley (and to a lesser extent Keith Marshall and Sony Michel) returns, he'll still be a major component of the Bulldog attack.
Hutson Mason was once again workmanlike, finishing 10 of 17 for 179 yards, his highest total since the South Carolina loss. Even better Mason completed enough downfield passes to keep the Razorback defense honest, and again didn't turn the ball over. He did have a couple of plays on which he could have gotten rid of the ball rather than taking a hit, but I'm really quibbling at that point. Hutson Mason played a good football game and I don't see how a reasonable person could disagree with that very limited statement.
But the most exciting statistical news of the night was that the Georgia defense forced 4 turnovers, which makes 9 in the past two weeks. Even if you give up some plays (which the defense did, just ask poor Devin Bowman) that turnover total makes up for a lot, and will almost always put your offense in position to score points. If you also score a defensive touchdown, well, I'm so tickled I don't even know how to describe that kind of good fortune.
It wasn't perfect. In spots late it was downright ugly. But it was a conference road win and you take those how you can get them. Georgia now heads into a well deserved bye week, over which it will hopefully get its Todd Gurley issue sorted out before heading to Jacksonville for the annual World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. At stake? A chance to consolidate control in the SEC East, continued viability for a spot in the inaugural college football playoff, and the chance to beat the Florida Gators for a fourth consecutive years for the first time since the six year winning streak that ran from 1978 to 1983. Those are all things worth playing for, and it's a testament to the coaches and players in Athens that all those things are still in front of them. Until later. . .