It certainly didn’t feel like it during first half in which Georgia didn’t have the lead until the final three seconds, but the Bulldogs’ 37-10 win against Ole Miss Saturday was unlike any other since the fourth week of the season.
Georgia moved one win away from returning to the SEC title game with some breathing room in the second half.
The Bulldogs previous three wins were by eight (Florida), five (Kentucky) and seven (Tennessee) points.
“It was a tight ballgame,” coach Mark Richt said. “It didn’t end that way, but it started out that way.”
It didn’t end that way because Aaron Murray started throwing touchdown passes: 66 yards to Marlon Brown, 40 to Tavarres King, 42 to Malcolm Mitchell and 23 to Rantavious Wooten.
Georgia now just needs to beat Auburn, which has struggled mightily in SEC play this season.
“We know now that it’s down to one game to win the right to go back to Atlanta,” Richt said. “We know that Auburn will be very ready to play. We know going there is a tough place to play. Auburn fans don’t really like Georgia a whole lot and we know we’re going to have to be at our best. I told the guys `Get your mind right right now, get your jaw set. We’ve got seven more days before we can have an opportunity to finish.”
Visions of an SEC championship trip were certainly dancing in the heads in Gainesville and elsewhere for Gator fans when Ole Miss led 10-0.
“Here we go,” former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow tweeted before the Georgia-Ole Miss kickoff. “NEVER thought I’d say this but let’s go Ole Miss!”
Florida now has to root for Auburn.
The play-fake Murray sold on the touchdown pass to Brown was reminiscent of plays made by David Greene at Georgia and Heisman Trophy-winner Chris Weinke at Florida State under Richt.
It left Murray vulnerable with his back turned to the defense.
“It was scary,” Murray said. “When you’re play-faking you’ve got to trust your line and just sell it as hard as you can. They bit and you just wind up with a touchdown.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo on the touchdown pass to King before halftime when Murray scrambled out of trouble.
“He needed to make that play or I might have choked him at halftime,” Bobo said.
Bobo was referring to Murray letting the clock run down in the final minute.
Brown finished with three catches for 113 yards, but left the game in the third quarter with a left knee injury.
“We just don’t know yet,” Richt said about the severity of the injury.
Brown was injured on a 30-yard completion from Murray.
He was tackled by safety Trae Elston. Richt said that the Ole Miss player “went low. He looked legal when he went to attempt to tackle him. I don’t know what happened.”
Other postgame notes and quotes:
–Murray was sacked five times—all in the first half.
“It wasn’t like I was getting blasted,” Murray said. “The Nick Fairley hits (from 2010 atAuburn) are the ones I hate.”
Bobo gave a lot of credit to Ole Miss sophomore defensive end C.J. Johnson, who had two sacks in eight games entering today. He had 1 1/2 sacks and seven tackles against the Bulldogs.
“No. 10 is an excellent player,” Bobo said. “He has tremendous speed off the edge. We got into too many third and longs. He was able to pin his ears back and come after the quarterback.”
Said Richt: “We just couldn’t block their normal edge rush. Our tackles were struggling, especially the left tackle.”
That would be both Kenarious Gates and Mark Beard, who took over at left tackle when Chris Burnette went down with a left shoulder contusion. Burnette was in a sling after the game as he left the locker room.
“Depending what happens with Chris, (Beard) may get a lot more opportunity,” Richt said. “We’ll see.”
–Richt on the touchdown to Brown that Bobo called: “That call takes a little bit of nerve because it’s an all or nothing type of play. It was executed extremely well. Mike did a good job of putting that play in. It was one that we used in year’s pass, but you’ve still got to coach it all over again if you haven’t run it in a while.”
Richt said the play was first put in by Bobby Bowden at Florida State when Richt was a graduate assistant coach in the mid1980s and playedAuburn.
–The loss for Ole Miss wasn’t as big as the 66-31 loss toTexas, but first-year coach Hugh Freeze said: “It was obviously a pretty good beating that Georgia put on us today. Offensively, we just couldn’t make any plays to give our defense much hope. It was the first time this season that I felt like we were zapped of our passion.”
Said Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace: “They have some real ballers on defense. They have two guys that are going to be top five draft picks, and they were just really tough to deal with.”
He didn’t mention the players, but it’s safe to assume he was referring to Jarvis Jones and John Jenkins.
–Richt on the defense the last few games: “GATA. That’s our theme. Get after them aggressively.”
Or something like that.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer