A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.
As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.
The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.
Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.
The looming collision course between College Football Playoff contenders No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Georgia appears on track for early December as the latter clinched their spot in the SEC Championship Game thanks to a wild 21-14 win over No. 12 Auburn in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
The victory gave Kirby Smart, who might have aged quite a bit in a tense fourth quarter, his third straight SEC East Division title at his alma mater and might have doubled as the sweetest yet given the effort on the side of the ball he specializes in. The Bulldogs defense was simply swarming all night in holding the Tigers to under four yards per play, netting a fumble, forcing an impressive five 3-and-outs, stopping three 4th down conversions and generally keeping their opponent out of the red zone until late in the fourth quarter.
That kind of effort certainly took the pressure off a still-questionable UGA offense. Quarterback Jake Fromm did wind up throwing for three touchdowns but it all came on just 13 completions (and 28 attempts) for 110 yards as every snap was a battle of wills between the two programs. Most of the damage came on just one play, a perfect first quarter strike down field 51 yards into the hands of Dominick Blaylock, who split the defense and raced into the end zone.
Tailback D’Andre Swift recorded 106 yards rushing but it wasn’t easy on the ground for anybody involved in this one against two of the best front-seven’s in the country.
Despite trailing all game long, Auburn did make things interesting with yet another rally in the final minutes. QB Bo Nix was naturally the spark plug and finished the evening 30-of-50 for 245 yards and a touchdown through the air but it was his scrambling ability that really made things interesting. He scored the first rushing touchdown the Bulldogs have allowed all season long to go with his 42 yards on the ground but it just wasn’t enough in the end as he took a sack with just over 90 seconds left to frame the final score.
As a result, the Bulldogs are headed back to Atlanta next month and may have locked up the title of the SEC’s second-best team behind top-ranked LSU with the win and Tua Tagovailoa’s tough season-ending injury for No. 5 Alabama. While it’s doubtful UGA will move up in the Selection Committee’s rankings at all with three undefeated programs ahead of them, they continue to make it look like the SEC title game will be a de facto quarterfinal game to get into the Playoff.
It was far from easy to get to that point and Georgia still has a tough final conference test remaining against Texas A&M but Smart once again has his team in position to get back to the promised land after crossing state lines and getting another big win at Jordan-Hare.
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is typically a close, hard-fought affair where one big play or two separates the two sides.
Rather predictably, that was the case again in the first half of No. 4 Georgia’s visit to Jordan-Hare on Saturday afternoon as the Bulldogs held a 14-0 lead over No. 12 Auburn at the midway mark of a game that carries significant SEC and College Football Playoff implications.
It was also rather predictable that in a game featuring two questionable offenses and a load of NFL talent on the other side of the ball, the defenses really dictated the pace in this one. There were 16 drives and half of them were three-and-outs while the rivals combined for 10 punts, a missed field goal and a fumble.
So yeah, crisp and exciting this one was not.
Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm (91 yards, two TDs) did produce the lone highlight of the half however, hitting Dominick Blaylock in stride for a 51-yard touchdown strike for the first points of the game. Other than that though, things were rough until UGA mounted a scoring drive with just seconds left in the second quarter to extend their lead in action that was mostly focused on the sidelines after a photographer was injured after being hit by a stumbling Brian Herrien going out-of-bounds. De’Andre Swift did manage 80 yards on 10 carries but the speedy tailback was still mostly bottled up aside from some plays on the team’s final drive.
The Tigers would have killed for such production though. Freshman signal-caller Bo Nix was running for his life most of the game and was lucky to wind up with 115 yards passing to go with a team-high 21 on the ground, both almost entirely off scrambles and broken plays. Gus Malzahn’s usage of the Wildcat formation seemed to stall the offense more than it juiced it too as things were not great at all in a game they have to win in order to stay in the conference and national picture.
Given the injury news with No. 5 Alabama from earlier in the day, this matchup is one to solidify either side’s hold as the second-best SEC team behind No. 1 LSU. Unfortunately, neither team is really racing out to secure that nebulous title so far on the Plains.
In the most important game in the SEC East, No. 8 Georgia is leading No. 6 Florida 13-3 at halftime in Jacksonville.
Jake Fromm‘s short touchdown pass to Dominick Blaylock gave Georgia a 10-0 lead late in the second quarter. Georgia running back D’Andre Swift has rushed for 56 yards on 13 carries.
Running the ball has been difficult for the Gators. Florida has been held to just nine rushing yards on eight rushing attempts by a hungry Georgia defense. Gators quarterback Kyle Trask has been taken down for a loss of 10 yards to cut into the anemic Florida rushing total.
Dan Mullen rolled the dice on the game’s opening possession by going for it on fourth-and-goal from the Georgia 40-yard line, but an incomplete pass resulted a turnover on downs by the Gators. Georgia then strung together a 16-play drive that resulted in a field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship. The scoring drive covered 47 yards over the 16 plays. Blankenship added one more field goal shortly before halftime to extend Georgia’s lead to 10 points.