Maybe FSU decided to boycott the Orange Bowl after all.
Two teams took the field in Miami for the 90th iteration of one of college football’s most storied postseason contests. The one coached by Mike Norvell was short handed at the start then didn’t acquit itself too well from there. The one coached by Kirby Smart played like a team that was angry that it was snubbed by the College Football Playoff committee, and was determined to show those dilettantes the error of their ways.
The results speak for themselves.
Georgia’s 60 point victory over the Seminoles was the largest margin of victory ever in a bowl game. It eclipsed the 58 point margin of victory….by which Georgia thrashed TCU last bowl season.
By the end of the game, in a somewhat surreal sequence, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s son Jackson scrambled for a first down then Stetson Bennett’s younger brother Luke caught a pass. We weren’t that far away from Andrew Smart trotting out to punt.
Offensively Georgia simply asserted its will, firing off 673 yards of offense to FSU’s 209. The Bulldogs held an 11 minute advantage in time of possession. Run, pass, it didn’t matter. Everything worked. Heck, it even worked out when Georgia wanted to pass but was forced to run.
Carson Beck looked smooth, going 13 of 18 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns before yielding to Gunner Stockton. Stockton then hit 6 of his 10 throws for two touchdowns of his own, and ran for 46 yards to boot.
The offensive line that was missing Amarius Mims curiously didn’t look like it was missing a thing. The Bulldogs pounded out 372 yards on the ground, led by 104 from Kendall Milton. In the first half.
Milton and Daijun Edwards ultimately yielded to freshman Roderick Robinson, who beat up the Garnet and Gold for 70 yards on 7 carries of his own.
Florida State, playing without most of its offensive playmakers, needed to play a mistake-free football game just to keep this one close. Instead, they surrendered 4 turnovers to the Dawgs’ 0.
One could certainly draw from this game the conclusion that Florida State did not belong in the college football playoff. I’m not sure that would be the correct conclusion. Instead what I took from this game was what I already knew, and what you gentle reader also knew: the 2023 Georgia Bulldogs are absolutely one of the four best football teams in America. Every team playing in the College Football Playoff is damned lucky Kirby Smart’s team isn’t in it with them, especially with a month to get healthy. The SEC Championship Game was once again the real national championship game.
But that’s water under the bridge. Kirby Smart’s football team is now moving on to 2024. The Bulldogs will return a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and are adding players in the transfer portal and from the high school ranks who can make a day one impact.
The 2024 Georgia Bulldogs will play arguably the toughest regular season slate any team in college football history ever has. But I still expect them to be competing for a national championship. 2023 was always supposed to be the rebuilding year after two consecutive national championships. Finishing 13-1 and likely in the top four in the AP and Coaches’ polls ain’t bad so far as rebuilding goes. Until later…