Georgia’s 44-41 win over LSU wasn’t just a thrilling game or an important victory for the Dogs.
It was a proud day for the Bulldog Nation, too. I’ve been going to Georgia football games for 50 years and I can say without hesitation that was the loudest I’ve ever heard Sanford Stadium from first kickoff to final whistle. On that last futile drive by LSU, particularly the fourth-down incompletion, the place was literally vibrating with a decibel level that must have approached that of a jet engine.
A spine-tingling moment that never will be forgotten by the fans who were there.
Overall, from “GameDay” on the Myers quad to the terrific “Awaken the Nation” pregame video to the team coming back out on the field 10 minutes after they’d gone to the locker room to celebrate some more, it was one of the most electrifying game day atmospheres imaginable. And thanks to the “redout” and the fact that a free red shaker was provided on every seat, it also was the reddest I’ve ever seen that stadium. A magnificent sight for the national TV audience.
It was a pretty entertaining football game, too, featuring two high-powered offenses and the much anticipated quarterback duel between former roommates Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger is an extremely talented QB and he played a whale of a game Saturday, making one key pass after another, and he and his big arm are no doubt going to get plenty of playing time on Sundays. But the game wound up encapsulating the former Bulldog’s career in Athens — no matter how good he was, Murray came out on top.
And for the second time in a month, Murray led the Dogs to victory in one of those “big” games that his detractors had declared him incapable of winning.
Statistically, Murray and Mettenberger were pretty close, except in yardage, where Mett ruled.
Murray completed 20 of 34 for 298 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for another. And he had several passes dropped by receivers. Of course, he also got away with a couple of ill-advised balls thrown into heavy coverage that went incomplete but could have been picked off. Early on, one pass was intercepted.
Mett, meanwhile, completed 23 of 37 for 372 yards and three TDs, but he also threw several passes that could have been picked off except the young Georgia defenders never broke on the ball. A learning experience, I think they call that.
Still, it was the kind of game fans of college quarterbacks absolutely love. With neither team excelling on the defensive side, the back-and-forth scoring was like a tennis match on center court at Wimbledon.
Actually, the day wasn’t a complete wash-out for Georgia’s green defense. While Todd Grantham didn’t call his best game — no pressure on Mettenberger allowed him to complete a key third-and-22 pass on the Tigers’ last scoring drive — and the Dogs’ inexperience showed in the secondary, the much-maligned Bulldog run defense actually had a pretty good day. LSU was held to just 13 yards running in the first half, and while they got back on track somewhat in the third quarter, the Tigers still wound up with only 77 yards rushing on the day.
Meanwhile, Georgia persevered even after losing star tailback Todd Gurley in the first half (who at that point already had 73 yards on eight carries for an average of 9.1 yards per run). Keith Marshall stepped up big-time with his 96 yards on 20 carries. But there probably wasn’t a more important run Saturday than fourth-string freshman back J.J. Green’s 18-yard scamper on the Dogs’ final, game-winning drive.
And let’s not forget Mike Bobo, who generally called a terrific game.
However, with 1:47 remaining on the clock, there was the fear among many fans in my section that Georgia had scored too quickly and left too much time for Mettenberger to bring them back. After all, LSU was a phenomenal 10 out of 15 on third-down conversions, which should send Grantham and his staff back to the drawing board this week.
But the Tigers were unsuccessful on their one attempt at making it on fourth down. And that was the one that really mattered. Georgia’s D might not have been very good, but they were good enough. In the end, they got the big stop. And LSU didn’t.
And, thanks to CBS, the roar from Sanford Stadium was heard across the country.
Awaken the nation, indeed.
A great day to be a Georgia Bulldog …
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg