ATLANTA — Georgia will need more than an infusion of talent from its “Dream Team” recruiting class and a sense of urgency to snap out of its losing ways.
UGA quarterback Aaron Murray looks on in dismay during Georgia's loss to Boise State Saturday night in Atlanta.
At least when the opponent is as formidable as No. 5 Boise State.
Wanting to turn the page on a 6-7 season — its first under .500 since 1996 — Georgia added another frustrating chapter Saturday night in a 35-21 Boise State win in the Georgia Dome.
“Obviously we knew going in they were pretty darn good and they just beat us tonight,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “They were better than we were.”
The No. 19 Bulldogs learned all too well the risk of scheduling the Broncos in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to open the season.
Richt had said the danger of lining up the Broncos was playing a team that “could whip your tail.”
That’s how the game looked when Boise State scored 28 unanswered points and led 35-14 in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Kellen Moore, the Heisman Trophy finalist last year, completed 28-of-34 passes for 261 yards with three touchdowns and an interception and Boise State got touchdown runs of 7 yards from Doug Martin and 1 yard from D.J. Harper.
The Bulldogs lost for the seventh time in the last eight games against a ranked opponent and their fifth straight to a top-five team.
Boise State, which lost 48-13 to Georgia in 2005, notched its first win against a team from the powerful Southeastern Conference in five tries.
Next up for Georgia: the backend of a potent 1-2 opening punch: No. 12 South Carolina at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in a Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
Georgia, which has gone 14-13 since the start of the 2009 season, will look to rebound again.
“It’s definitely a very important game to get on the right track,” said quarterback Aaron Murray, who was sacked six times on a night he went 16 of 29 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
“You don’t want to start a season 0-2 and you don’t want to start the SEC journey 0-1.”
The game marked the debut for a highly-touted recruiting class headlined by tailback Isaiah Crowell from Columbus. He finished with 60 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Georgia lost for the eighth time in its last 14 games and is now 1-7 away from Sanford Stadium in its last eight games.
This one, though, was about as close to a home game as it could be, with about 90 percent of the 73,614 fans on hand dressed in red rooting for the Bulldogs.
Georgia wanted to get back into the nation’s consciousness by breaking through with a high-profile win, but Boise State knocked off a top-20 opponent to open the season for the third straight season.
Georgia donned its red-on-red Nike Pro Combat uniforms, but they now may turn out to be as popular as those black helmets from the 2009 Florida game.
The Bulldogs offense did not have receivers A.J. Green and Kris Durham, who went in the first and fourth rounds of the NFL draft, nor tailbacks Washaun Ealey (transfer) and Caleb King (academically ineligible).
Georgia looked like it was missing them in the first half when it also lost starting offensive guard Kenarious Gates with a lower leg injury.
Georgia used a no-huddle offense and three- and four-receiver sets, but went three-and-out on five of its first eight possessions in the half.
“We wanted to try to spread it out a little bit more and get some of our guys out there in space,” Richt said. “We didn’t have an awful lot of success.”
The Bulldogs got just four first downs and were outgained by Boise State 183-151 in the half and 390-373 for the game.
The biggest play came when cornerback Brandon Boykin lined up in the backfield and got the game’s first points on an 80-yard touchdown run.
On his first career play on offense, the senior lined up to the left of quarterback Aaron Murray and took an inside handoff, got a key block from fullback Bruce Figgins and cut back across the field and ran into the left corner of the end zone with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
It was Georgia’s longest rushing touchdown since Richard Samuel scored on an 80-yard run against Arkansas.
Samuel, back at tailback after a season redshirting as a linebacker, got the start and finished with 12 yards on seven carries.
Boise State extended a 14-7 lead at halftime by going 76 yards in 11 plays, getting a 7-yard touchdown run by Martin who juked cornerback Branden Smith and stiff-armed him en route to the end zone.
Moore threw touchdowns of 17 yards to Matt Miller and Kyle Efaw in the first half and a 3-yard strike to Tyler Shoemaker with 3:10 left in the third quarter made it 28-7.
“We couldn’t get them off the field once they got going in the second half,” Richt said. “There were a couple of times we got them off the field, just not enough.”
It didn’t help that the Bulldogs lost starting inside linebacker Alec Ogletree with a right foot injury in the first half. Ogletree walked out of the locker room after the game using a crutch with a boot on his foot and may not be available for the South Carolina game.
‚ÄúThey have a good line, but I felt with the schemes that we run that we would get a little bit more pressure,” said Boykin of a defense that did not record a sack. “For whatever reason it was it didn‚Äôt happen like we wanted to. They made the plays that they had to to win.”
There was some booing when Georgia went to the locker room at halftime and more when the Bulldogs brought out the punt team on fourth-and-7 on the Boise 41.
Georgia drew a 5-yard offsides penalty and then went for it.
Murray hit Orson Charles for a 36-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 28-14 with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
After Boise State increased its lead to 35-14 on Harper’s touchdown, Murray hit freshman receiver Malcolm Mitchell on a 51-yard scoring strike to pull within 35-21 with 10:15 left. Mitchell was one of seven true freshmen that played in the first half, but even the “Dream Team” couldn’t give the Bulldogs’ a spark to change its fortunes.
“I was encouraged by the reaction of our seniors especially in the locker room afterwards, just to get to work,” Richt said. “Southeastern Conference play hasn’t even started. It’s a long season and we’ve got to get our minds right.”