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ATLANTA — No. 3 Georgia dismantled No. 11 Oregon 49-3 on Saturday in its first game since taking home the College Football Playoff National Championship in January. Stetson Bennett IV was 25 of 31 for 368 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon, including 154 yards in the first quarter to set the tone for the game. He found nine different receivers and tossed two touchdowns — one to Ladd McConkey in the second quarter and another to Adonai Mitchell in the third quarter — in what was the most complete performance of his career.
The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on each of their first seven drives, including rushing scores by Ladd McConkey, Bennett and Kenny McIntosh, before Oregon was able to kick a field goal early in the second quarter to get on the board for the only time on Saturday.
Every one of Georgia’s touchdown drives were 56 or more yards with the longest being a seven-play, 92-yard trip that ended on the first play of the second quarter. The 49-3 score was the largest margin of victory in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, eclipsing Alabama’s 42-3 win over Duke to open the 2019 season.
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix was erratic all afternoon in his Ducks debut. He completed 21 of 37 passes for 173 yards and threw two first-half interceptions that dug a hole from which the Ducks simply couldn’t dig themselves out.
This wasn’t just a victory lap for the Bulldogs, it was a statement that they have reached a new level. Coach Kirby Smart didn’t take the job to win just one national title and be satisfied — he took it to build a dynasty. You know, like the one he helped build at Alabama as Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator. He’s well on his way.
Georgia lost 15 players to the NFL draft last season, five of whom were defenders selected in the first round. No worries, though, because all the younger players did was pick up right where those studs left off.
Malaki Starks, a true freshman defensive back, made a dazzling interception deep downfield in the first quarter that set the tone for what was a dominating performance. Defensive back Dan Jackson had a team-high five tackles, one of which was for a loss, in his fifth start for the Bulldogs. Jamon Dumas-Johnson, a reserve linebacker who made his first career start, added three tackles and was all over the field.
We didn’t hear much from defensive lineman Jalen Carter, linebacker Nolan Smith and defensive back Kelee Ringo on Saturday, despite all of three of them being known commodities.
Translation: This Georgia team is in plug-and-play mode.
How many other teams in the country can say the same? Alabama? For sure. Ohio State? Definitely. Clemson? Probably. That’s about it. Smart is there to build a dynasty, and the construction process is almost complete.
A deep ball from Bo Nix is exactly what @StarksMalaki was dreaming of last night
UNREAL interception from the 5⭐️ @GeorgiaFootball true freshman 👏 pic.twitter.com/Jzm4Jvoy8z
It seems like Bennett is still viewed as a game-manager in some circles, but none of those circles were anywhere close to Atlanta on Saturday. Bennett’s 368 yards are a single-game record for “The Mailman,” with his previous high of 340 coming in the same building in the SEC Championship Game loss to Alabama last year.
This wasn’t just a dominating performance by Georgia; it was an indication that offensive coordinator Todd Monken trusts his quarterback just as much as Saban trusts Bryce Young and Ohio State coach Ryan Day trusts CJ Stroud.
The Georgia offense ran through Bennett, not the running game. This despite the defense showing that it hasn’t missed a beat. Unlike last year, Georgia passed to set up a run against the No. 11 team in the country — a team whose first-year coach, Dan Lanning, was coordinating the Bulldogs defense last year.
The running game will come; anybody who watched the game saw just how dynamic the backs are for Georgia. But it’s clear that this offense has graduated to a new era, and makes it one of the most dangerous offenses in the country.
What a play from Stetson Bennett 😲
The defending champs have made a STATEMENT in the 1st half pic.twitter.com/H4W6oHvb7i
Georgia lost plenty of pieces from llast year’s national title squad, and one of the most under-appreciated players was running back James Cook. The younger brother of NFL star Dalvin Cook was a threat on the ground and through the air, and finding his replacement was one of the goals of fall camp.
McIntosh is clearly that guy. The junior had 18 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown and a team-high 117 receiving yards including a 38-yard reception on a wheel route on Georgia’s final drive of the first half that led to a touchdown and a 28-3 halftime lead.
There is no shortage of skill players on Georgia’s roster, and it’s clear that McIntosh is one of the next superstars in the making. His emergence as a Swiss Army knife is a good sign that the Bulldogs can not only replicate last year’s passing scheme with its running backs but potentially build off of it.
The Ducks might be a contender in the Pac-12, but they have miles to go before even being considered a contender for the national title. Heck, a berth in an expanded College Football Playoff might even be a stretch. The size and speed difference along both lines of scrimmage was apparent from the outset.
Nix was running for his life for the majority of the day and threw several passes that would have been picked off if they were anywhere close to his intended target. The defensive front gave Bennett time to pitch a tent in the backfield, take a nap, wake up, grab some coffee and find open receivers downfield on a consistent basis.
Granted, it was against the reigning national champions. But still, if Oregon is going to be relevant on a national scale, it has to be at least competitive in games like this.
Stetson Bennett vs. Oregon today:
➤ 25/31 Comp/Att
➤ 368 Pass Yds
➤ 2 TD
Got that DAWG in him 😤 pic.twitter.com/OWsLaBT7lB
Dawgs > Ducks@GeorgiaFootball 🐶 pic.twitter.com/L92PFu8Dab
Final from Atlanta. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/sm4CMZQ2pL
DAWGS ON 🔝#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/oP9Uu073aj
DAWGS stand tall on the 2⃣ yard line, and take over on downs!#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/4h1WmSEMpS
Georgia came to play 😳
Seven touchdowns in seven drives ✅ pic.twitter.com/nQaSKARt30
Georgia’s first seven offensive possessions:
▫️ Touchdown pic.twitter.com/iUewlJqBaZ
14:50 Q4: Georgia 49, Oregon 3
Georgia brought in Carson Beck in place of Stetson Bennett IV, and Beck picked up right where Bennett left off. He hit Kendall Milton for an 18-yard touchdown on third-and-8 to extend the lead. The Bulldogs are 9 of 9 on third downs and have scored touchdowns on all seven possession against the Ducks.
.@therealkmilt adds another!#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/Yac9uljmA4
All Dawgs through 3⃣#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/ALdRvBCCMA
15 minutes remaining. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/sFJQWWZgKk
Defense putting in the overtime 📈#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/1Nk9eLprs7
Georgia is the 3rd team in the past 15 seasons to score a touchdown on each of its first six drives against a ranked opponent, joining Ohio State vs Michigan State last season (first seven) and South Florida vs Navy in 2016 (first six). pic.twitter.com/ARholIUOKj
.@MoCityMitch with the high point!#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/Cz4UjDYj0g
5:20 Q3: Georgia 35, Oregon 3
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV found Adonai Mitchell on the left sideline for an 18-yard touchdown to cap off a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Bennett is now 25 of 31 for 368 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. His 368 yards are a new single-game record for the senior signal-caller for the Bulldogs, who previously threw for 340 in the SEC Championship Game loss to Alabama last year.
.@StetsonIv ➡️ @MoCityMitch connection is 🔥🔥🔥#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/WPcdALz4Yy
12:17 Q3: Georgia 35, Oregon 3
Well, things haven’t changed much in the second half here in Atlanta. Kendall Milton scored from 12 yards out on third-and-3 to push the lead to 32 points. Milton now has 38 yards on five carries, and is Georgia’s leading rusher on the afternoon. The Bulldogs are 6 of 6 on third down conversions, and have amassed a whopping 377 yards through two quarters and change.
🚂’s coming @therealkmilt #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/NUqimTn9JE
1⃣ half to go!#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/DAAdMHO1t7
#DawgsInTheNFL showing up in the 🅰️ pic.twitter.com/L9YW5yt26U
Stetson Bennett wasn’t going down without a touchdown 😤 pic.twitter.com/xfo5TJVC11
Halftime at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/5J3KJiLt9I
2⃣ quarters in the books!#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/Kc1qOjc133
0:25 Q2: Georgia 28, Oregon 3
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV scrambled around all day and found Ladd McConkey all alone in the end zone to push the lead to 28-3 just before the halftime. Yes, this is the time of the day when you should make “28-3” jokes considering it’s a Georgia team playing in Mercedes-Benz Stadium … home of the Atlanta Falcons.
Never give up on the play ✅#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/dD2X9CXlPG
.@StetsonIv ➡️ @laddmcconkey02 #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/z8xdwUIaaH
4:00 Q2: Georgia 21, Oregon 3
Well, there won’t be a shutout. Camden Lewis nailed a 35-yard field goal to get the Ducks on the board, but it wasn’t without stress. Quarterback Bo Nix was nearly picked on the goal line and probably would have been had Nix’s pass been on target. The drive was kept alive on a 15-yard penalty on Kamari Lassiter, who wrestled Noah Whittington to the ground after Nix completed the pass to Whittington in the left flat. It was a break for the Ducks, who didn’t have anything going on either side of the ball until that drive. They’re hanging by a string, but Nix is going to have to be more consistent and not take so many risks.
Ducks are on the board as @LewisCamden drills a 35-yarder.
Georgia leads 21-3 with 3:57 left in the first half.#GoDucks pic.twitter.com/V6uItzF4gP
AD MITCHELL 😤😤 @GeorgiaFootball pic.twitter.com/KYI1Sgi5tH
Playing loose, having fun!#GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/G2BsLoqgoP
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