Lawrence Cager

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Georgia leading Missouri at halftime, looking to keep firm grip on SEC East

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With a chance to remain one game on top of the SEC East, No. 6 Georgia is taking care of some work inside the division so far tonight. Georgia leads Missouri 16-0 at halftime in Athens, putting them one half away from securing a one-game lead in the division with head-to-head tiebreakers against every team in the division not named South Carolina.

It hasn’t been particularly pretty for Georgia. Jake Fromm has completed just nine of 20 passes for 122 yards, although one was for a touchdown to George Pickens. But all Georgia has managed to add has been a trio of Rodrigo Blankenship field goals, including a 48-yard kick.

Georgia wide receiver Lawrence Cager left the game late in the second quarter with an apparent arm injury. There was no immediate update on his status in the final minute of the half, so it is unknown what this means for the second half.

Missouri has not allowed the Georgia running game to get much momentum, with D’Andre Swift held to just 16 yards on five attempts. Missouri’s offense hasn’t had much luck either, of course.

With a pair of top four teams falling earlier today (Penn State, Alabama), a win by Georgia tonight could also move the Bulldogs into a playoff position in the next College Football Playoff rankings. But first, Georgia must finish this one off against the Tigers.

No. 8 Georgia takes over first place in SEC East after topping No. 6 Florida

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If recent history is any indication, No. 8 Georgia (7-1, 4-1 SEC) can start making reservations in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game now. Georgia came out on top of No. 6 Florida (7-2, 4-2 SEC) in Jacksonville on Saturday, 24-17, to take over sole possession of first place in the SEC East. The winner of the Florida-Georgia game has gone on to play for the SEC championship each of the last four seasons, including the last two years by Georgia.

Jake Fromm passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs, with Lawrence Cager being the main target. Cager caught seven passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. It was Cagfer’s touchdown in the fourth quarter that helped keep Georgia ahead for good. Early in the fourth quarter, Cager worked himself into an open spot on the field as the Florida secondary lost track of him, and Cager made them pay for the defensive slip with a 52-yard touchdown to put Georgia up by two scores.

 

As expected, Georgia tried plugging away on the ground as well. D’Andre Swift carried the football 24 times for 89 yards, with a long run of 30 yards against a solid Florida defense. But Georgia’s defense was the unit really taking charge. Georgia limited Florida to 272 yards of offense and allowed just two out of nine third-down conversions (Florida was also 1-of-2 on fourth down).

The win extends Georgia’s winning streak over Florida to three games, as the Bulldogs and Gators continue to exchange three-game winning streaks. Florida won three consecutive meetings from 2008 through 2010, followed by three consecutive wins by Georgia from 2011 through 2013, with Florida returning the favor from 2014 through 2016. This was also the first game in the series decided by one score since Georgia’s 23-20 victory in 2013.

While the recent trends would suggest Georgia is heading to Atlanta, there is still some work to be done before thinking about a shot at another SEC title. Georgia is home next week to play the next biggest threat within the division, Missouri. A win against Missouri would give Georgia a tough-to-beat path to Atlanta with a one-game lead in the loss column on both the Gators and Tigers and head-to-head tiebreaker against each. The reason that is important is that Georgia also plays arguably the toughest remaining game between all three SEC East contenders. Georgia must play a road game at Auburn in two weeks. A loss at Auburn opens the door once again for Florida (and Missouri), but Georgia would still have to lose to Texas A&M at home for either Florida or Missouri to sneak to the top of the division. Missouri hosts Florida on the same day Georgia is playing at Auburn.

So, in brief, next week’s game against Missouri can pretty much wrap up the SEC East race if Georgia wins.

Florida will look to rebound next week at home against Vanderbilt. The Gators likely will have a difficult path back to a New Years Six at-large with the loss.

No. 3 Georgia holds off No. 7 Notre Dame for 23-17 win

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Before the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Sanford Stadium, No. 3 Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) took time wearing down No. 7 Notre Dame (2-1) for a 23-17 victory Saturday night. Despite a handful of injuries before and during the game, Georgia managed to overcome an early special teams mistake and shut down the Irish in the second half. Georgia outscored Notre Dame 13-0 after halftime.

Georgia running back D’Andre Swift led all players with 81 rushing yards and scored Georgia’s first touchdown in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. Jake Fromm gave Georgia a cushion in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard pass to Lawrence Cager. The touchdown lifted Georgia to a 20-10 lead at the end of an 82-yard drive after Notre Dame had gone three-and-out.

Notre Dame’s second-half drive summary was not good, to put it kindly. After halftime, Notre Dame fumbled on the third play of their first offensive series, which led to a Georgia field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship to tie the game at 10-10. The Irish then went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, leading to another field goal by Blankenship to give Georgia their first lead of the night late in the third quarter. Another punt after losing two yards in three plays led to the Georgia touchdown drive, and Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book was picked off by J.R. Reed on the following possession at the Georgia 33-yard line. That was Notre Dame’s last chance to make things interesting because the Bulldogs began to work the clock. Keeping things on the ground, for the most part, Georgia killed nearly four minutes off the clock before one more field goal by Blankenship to extend the lead to 23-10.

If the atmosphere was a factor, it showed. Notre Dame was called for seven false start penalties in the game. A record crowd at Sanford Stadium of 93,246 was crammed in to watch the events unfold in person. Most of them ended up going home with a smile on their face.

Georgia did suffer some notable injuries in the game. Starting offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson (didn’t play; ankle) and Solomon Kindley (left game; left leg injury) were among the injured Bulldogs, and cornerback Eric Stokes left the game after injuring his knee on the second play of the game.

This all sets Georgia up for a playoff run. With a win against a top 10 opponent under their belts and a favorable schedule the rest of the season, Georgia should be a near-lock for a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a possible 12-0 record. A road trip to Auburn late in the year could be the biggest hurdle remaining, and that could be a nice boost to a playoff profile if things fall just right for Kirby Smart and his program.

While it would be premature to suggest Notre Dame has been eliminated in the playoff discussion, it is a safe bet to say they have a much tougher path back into the playoff mix with a loss. With no conference championship game to fall back on and Michigan getting steamrolled earlier in the day to take some of the luster off their late October showdown in Ann Arbor (note: just some luster), Notre Dame is already in a likely position where they will need to take care of their own schedule the rest fo the way to go 11-1 and then hope for a little help from around the country. The good news for Notre Dame is they likely won’t fall back too far in the polls and there will be teams that take losses the next few months. But it will be tougher on the Irish now.

Georgia will get next week off before jumping into SEC play in October. The Bulldogs will play on the road against a Tennessee program that continues to struggle. The Vols were blown out on the road at Florida earlier in the day. For Georgia, all eyes may be looking ahead to November 2 when Georgia meets Florida in Jacksonville. That game is expected to decide the fate of the SEC East Division, but Georgia must get past Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky first. Those three teams are a combined 4-8.

there will be no bye week for Notre Dame until mid-October, so the Irish will be back at it next week with a home game against No. 21 Virginia. The Cavaliers avoided a home upset to Old Dominion on Saturday. Notre Dame will play their next three games at home with Bowling Green and USC each visiting after Virginia before Notre Dame reaches their next bye week.

Ex-Miami WR Lawrence Cager announces transfer to Georgia

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Miami’s loss will now be Georgia’s gain. Wide receiver Lawrence Cager has announced he is heading to Georgia to finish up his college football career. The former Hurricanes receiver announced his decision this weekend on his Twitter account.

“I have decided to transfer to UGA where I will continue my academic and athletic career,” Cager said on his Twitter account recently. “I am excited for this new journey with Coach Smart and the entire UGA family.”

Cager will have one final year of eligibility to use in Athens. As a graduate transfer, Cager is available to play right away this fall for the defending SEC East champion Bulldogs.

Last season, Cager started 12 of Miami’s 13 games and had a team-high six touchdowns. Cager missed the majority of the 2016 season due to a torn ACL. He previously announced his decision to leave Miami back in late December, shortly after the sudden retirement of former Miami head coach Mark Richt.