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UGA Leaves No Doubt

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Georgia, with three minutes still remaining in the third quarter, led 41-10; It wasn't as much a score as it was a statement.

A matchup talked about all pre-season, Saturday in Columbia was supposed to be a clash between the defending SEC Champion and a contender capable of challenging that distinction. Billed as a key divisional showdown, Georgia-South Carolina was a showcase for one of college football's new superpowers, instead. Kirby Smart's Bulldogs left Williams-Brice Stadium the same way they came in: unbeaten, unfazed and, as the clear favorite in the SEC East, unquestioned.

Simply put, Georgia overwhelmed the home-standing Gamecocks. The Bulldogs outgained South Carolina 473 total yards to 336, recording 30 first downs compared to 19. Georgia, with three minutes still remaining in the third quarter, led 41-10; It wasn't as much a score as it was a statement.

Playing on the road, in a hostile environment, all with the expectations that come with a top three national ranking, Georgia looked the part of a championship team. The Bulldogs nearly doubled-up South Carolina in both yards per pass, 10.6-to-5.9, and yards per rush, 5.2-to-2.7. Physically, Georgia overwhelmed, dominating to the tune of 271 rushing yards to 54. A well-rounded effort, the Bulldogs scored through the air, on the ground and on defense. Georgia had just four penalties, one turnover and held possession for well over 35 minutes.

It didn't take long for the Bulldogs to take charge. Star cornerback DeAndre Baker intercepted a pass on the game's opening drive, seemingly returning it 56 yards for a touchdown before dropping the football prior to crossing the goaline. Even in a brief moment of possible vulnerability, Georgia remained focused; amidst the chaos of a possible pick-six, linebacker Juwan Taylor scooped up the ball for the score. Four plays into the Bulldogs' first drive, DeAndre Swift was on the board. Just over three minutes after the game started, it, at 14-0, was essentially over. 

The end result was the end of any talk of a post-College Football Playoff Final letdown.  

On paper, at least, Georgia has cleared one of its biggest hurdles. The Bulldogs are now off and running. Though upcoming games at Missouri, at LSU, versus Florida in Jacksonville and against Auburn, among others, loom large, the Bulldogs very much appear to be one of the truly elite teams in the country. Georgia, largely a young and relatively-inexperienced side after the departure of many core pieces from a year ago, will likely only improve as the season progresses. Extra momentum only adds to the mission.

It's early, there is a lot of football left and every season ebbs and flows. Part of what makes the Bulldogs so successful is that Smart isn't, and never will be, satisfied. Georgia will keep striving to improve. Against one of the toughest teams on the schedule, however, one of the best teams in the game flexed its muscle. Consider it a repetition.  

Smart's Bulldogs are determined, hungry and talented. Literally and figuratively, Saturday was just the beginning.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports