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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Georgia avoids slow start, injuries against Jackets

Georgia’s most bitter in-state rival turned out to be less of an impediment in the Bulldogs’ march toward a bid to the national title game than its NCAA Football Championship Subdivision foe from downstate last week.

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Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) celebrates after the Bulldogs' 42-10 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.

Georgia overpowered Georgia Tech 42-10 on Saturday at Sanford Stadium in a game that was never in doubt. It was also a departure from last week when Georgia Southern played the Bulldogs close for the first half before falling 45-14.

Georgia Tech didn’t offer up much more than a speed bump as Georgia scored touchdowns on six of its first seven possessions. Georgia Tech’s option offense made some noise between the 20s in the early going. Georgia Tech’s best chance to score a touchdown against Georgia’s first-team defense went for naught when Bacarri Rambo stole the ball at the 1-yard line.

The lopsided win clears the decks for Saturday’s Southeastern Conference Championship Game against Alabama with the winner likely advancing to the BCS title game.

Most importantly, Georgia seemed to make it through Georgia Tech without major injuries, unlike Alabama which might have lost receiver Kenny Bell in Saturday’s blowout win against Auburn.

The Good

Georgia left little doubt as it scored touchdowns the first three times it had the ball. Georgia averaged 11.9 yards a play as it drove to a pair of touchdown runs by Todd Gurley and another by fellow freshman Keith Marshall.

After a sack and a holding penalty forced a punt on Georgia’s fourth drive, the Bulldogs reeled off three more touchdowns in three more drives — an 11-yard pass from Aaron Murray to Rhett McGowan, a 24-yard pass from Murray to tight end Jay Rome and a 17-yard run by Marshall — to take a 42-3 lead and effectively end the suspense.

Georgia has made some slow starts in games this year, including against Georgia Southern last week.

But with a national title bid on the line, Georgia made quick work of an overmatched Georgia Tech team and emptied the bench in the fourth quarter.

The Bad

Georgia Tech’s option offense found holes in Georgia’s defense. The Yellow Jackets ran for 306 yards and converted 26 first downs. They held the ball for 39 minutes, 56 seconds of the game.

Rambo saved a touchdown with a steal at the 1-yard line. He also made an interception at the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line, so it wasn’t like the Yellow Jackets didn’t create chances.

What the Yellow Jackets didn’t do was capitalize on its opportunities. It drove well from 20-yard line to 20-yard line. Penetrating those final 20 yards became a problem, especially without a consistent passing threat to make Georgia play honest.

Georgia’s option defense scouting reports can go back to the shelf for at least a week. The Bulldogs will face a more conventional pro-style attack from Alabama.

The Ugly

Georgia Tech’s offense might not have put many points on the board. But its defense was atrocious at keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone.

Georgia averaged 10.6 yards a play in the first half, rolling up 254 yards and 28 points. About the only thing that kept Georgia from fattening its numbers even more was there’s nowhere else to go after you reach the end zone.

None of Georgia’s primetime offense producers had monster games. Gurley ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Marshall had 66 yards and two touchdowns. Murray completed 14 of 17 for 215 yards and two scores. Malcolm Mitchell caught three passes for 88 yards. While those totals would be impressive in many other offenses, they look a little stunted compared to what the Bulldogs have posted in previous games.

Georgia scored almost at will until it took a 42-3 lead and emptied the bench in anticipation of next week’s SEC title game. Otherwise it might have been worse.

What’s Next

Georgia (11-1) goes for the SEC championship and a probable berth in the BCS championship when it faces Alabama (11-1) on Saturday in the Georgia Dome.

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