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Georgia 66, UMass 27: Behold the Matt Downing era!

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NCAA Football: Massachusetts at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulldogs emptied the bench en route to racing past the UMass Minutemen 66-27 in Sanford Stadium.

The denouement of this story was not unanticipated, and the plot was devoid of twists. The #5 team in the land was deeper and more athletically gifted than their visitors, such that the 39 point final margin probably undersells the gap between the teams. A couple of late scores by Andy Isabella, the nation’s leading receiver, made this one look perhaps a little more respectable than it really was.

The Bulldog offense scored on every single possession except the last one, in which a cadre of walk-ons killed the clock. Even then the ‘Dawgs churned out 52 yards and four first downs by the likes of Matt Downing, Willie Erdman, Ian Donald-McIntyre, and Lofton Tidwell. I was five minutes away from going in at tight end, but only if you didn’t feel like putting down your beverage.

Before calling off the ‘Dawgs the Georgia offense effortlessly piled up 701 yards of total offense. Over a quarter of it came courtesy of freshman quarterback Justin Fields. Fields was 5 of 8 passing for 121 yards and two touchdowns, including a 57 yard bullet to Mecole Hardman that had Georgia fans dreaming of what’s to come. But Fields also became the first Bulldog QB to run for 100 yards in this century (D.J. Shockley went for 85 in the 2005 opener against Boise State).

The 66 point output was the highest by the Red and Black since a 66-0 trouncing of Troy to open the 2014 season.

UMass’s Andy Isabella was a thorn in the Athenians collective sides, catching 15 passes for 219 yards and two scores. Isabella was targeted 17 times on the day, and accounted for the majority of the 390 yards the visitors posted.

What can we take from this one? Not much we didn’t already know. We knew James Cook is supremely fast and elusive in the open field, and will likely be in line for more playing time in the very near future. We likewise knew that if Tyler Simmons gets the ball in the open field he’s not going to be caught. And we knew that Justin Fields has the gifts to be a truly special signal caller when his time comes. But it was sort of nice to see all of these hypotheses borne out with hard evidence.

We now turn our attention to the annual game which, speaking for myself, I may not love most to win but clearly hate most to lose. THWGT, and . . .

Go ‘Dawgs!!!