Rapid Reaction: Georgia does enough to win, but did it do enough to stay No. 1?
Georgia didn’t look like the No. 1 team in the country Saturday.
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Will the Dawgs stay there in the second Playoff poll Tuesday night?
That’s a fair question after their 24-10 victory over South Carolina.
The wheels didn’t fall off like they did elsewhere around the country, but it certainly looked like the Bulldogs’ offense spent parts of Saturday afternoon driving on a flat tire.
They entered the game averaging 42.4 points against SEC teams. The “how” and “wow” behind their 8-0 start was the reason they jumped Alabama and debuted at No. 1 earlier this week.
Their ninth victory was more methodical than magical. Notre Dame was the only other team to keep the Dawgs in the 20s. No other team had stayed within 20 points of them, either.
Georgia went to the break up 14-7, the game plan — outside of an opening onside kick that South Carolina recovered — every bit as ho-hum and conservative as the score indicated.
Jake Fromm missed on the only few deep balls he threw but was sharp on the short stuff. Javon Wims made another spectacular catch for a touchdown.
Fromm opened the second half with a pretty TD throw to Mecole Hardman, a replica of the perfectly placed jump ball he threw to Wims last week.
Up 21-7, there was little sense that South Carolina could mount a comeback, not against Georgia’s defense, which gave up an early touchdown but little else. It took away what little rushing game South Carolina had and kept Jake Bentley from beating them over the top. Malkom Parrish’s late interception sealed it.
But those are details for another day.
Georgia, 9-0 for the first time since 1982, has reached the point where it’s no longer simply playing an opponent every Saturday. The bar has been raised, considerably. The nation is watching.
It’s no longer acceptable to survive and advance. That only works in basketball, where 68 teams are invited to March Madness, and one-point wins count just as much as blowouts.
Georgia’s quest is different. Football invites four teams to its Playoff and rejects a dozen others with quality cases.
Ask Wisconsin. The Badgers also improved to 9-0 Saturday but can’t shake their soft schedule or pair of close calls.
Georgia, to this point, had a bullet-proof resume, accentuated by a road win at Notre Dame in Week 2. Nobody else had come close to pushing the Dawgs in the second half.
It’s OK to win ugly every once in a while. It certainly beats the alternative. But if Georgia wants to stay No. 1, it can’t make a habit of it.
Saturday needs to be the anomaly, not the new norm.