It’s as much a part of Thanksgiving weekend as leftover turkey and macaroni and cheese.
The Bulldogs’ road to the SEC championship game under coach Kirby Smart includes closing out the regular season with a stomp from rival Georgia Tech.
Georgia’s 37-14 win over the Yellow Jackets on Saturday looked good on the bottom line, but the unranked Yellow Jackets carried the fight to the nation’s top team, defeating Georgia by just a field goal in the first half.
Then the No. 1 Bulldogs broke the game with 27 straight second-half points at Sanford Stadium before a Yellow Jackets touchdown came on with less than 3 minutes left.
For the second year in a row, the win brought the Bulldogs even closer to a place in the College Football Playoffs.
Even a loss to LSU at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on championship weekend in the SEC title game is unlikely to keep Georgia out of the foursome.
The Bulldogs (12-0) ended an undefeated regular season while Georgia Tech (5-7) lost to their state rivals for a fifth straight season.
Here are five takeaways as Georgia extended their school record with their 27th straight regular-season win:
The Governor’s Cup stays in Athens
Georgia Tech became the first team to score a touchdown against Georgia in the first quarter all season, defeating the Bulldogs 187-153 in the first half, but the bottom line was similar to recent games in the state rivalry.
Since Georgia Tech lost two out of three games from 2014-16, Georgia has drilled the Yellow Jackets.
It won by averaging 36 points in Saturday’s last four games and won its 70th game of the series on Saturday.
It was Georgia Tech’s first game in Athens since Dooley Field was named in 2019.
As Georgia broadcaster Jeff Dantzler noted at a celebration of Vince Dooley’s life Friday night at an event with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Gov. Brian Kemp, Dooley “went 19-6 against the enemy.”
Kirby Smart improved to 5-1 against the Yellow Jackets.
The Georgia radio team reeled off name after name of players who never lost to Georgia Tech in their careers before the game on Saturday.
“We’re Georgia Tech’s daddy,” said Side Job reporter DJ Shockley.
Georgia became the first SEC team to finish 12-0 in the regular season since Alabama in 2008 and 2009 in consecutive years. It is the sixth undefeated regular season in program history and the first in consecutive years.
This senior class, in their last home game. set the school record for most career wins. It improved to 46-5. The 2021 class finished 45-8.
Bulldogs arrive near the goal line during this time
Georgia failed to convert a fourth and a goal at the 1-yard line a week earlier in Kentucky.
This time, the Bulldogs managed to walk away with six points after sweating in the red zone.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett dived on the 3 on the second goal but was knocked down at the 1-yard line. On the third goal, a designed run by linebacker Ayinde Eley was wiped out.
Georgia set up defensive tackle Jalen Carter at full-back in I-formation and sent him into the end zone on the right flank, but Bennett’s low pass into the end zone was intercepted by tight end Brock Bowers for a 1-yard touchdown catch.
That put Georgia 20-7 with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs have touchdowns in three of their five red zone trips.
Georgia scored touchdowns on just one of five red-zone trips in the 16-6 win in Kentucky a week earlier, falling to 52nd in the nation in red-zone touchdown percentage at 65.5 .
Georgia had to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Jack Podlesny on his first foray into the red zone after a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line in the second quarter.
A first down pass to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint was incomplete and Georgia tried a variety of ways, pitching to Daijun Edwards after a false sweep to Ladd McConkey for a 3-yard loss.
A false start penalty on Darnell Washington pushed him back five more yards and Georgia was tagged for pass interference on a third down pass in the end zone to Brock Bowers, who was rejected. Bowers claimed a penalty for a defensive pass interference.
Georgia Big plays batting game openly
In a four-game, two-drive span, Georgia’s lackluster offensive performance suddenly became explosive.
Stetson Bennett (10 of 18 for 140 yards and 2 TDs) had thrown just 57 yards as Georgia took a 23-7 lead before hitting Kenny McIntosh from the backfield on the sideline for an 82-yard gain. McIntosh got it in the Georgia 42 and sped down the field to set up his own 2-yard touchdown run. That was Bennett’s last pass of the game.
The 4-play, 99-yard scoring drive was the longest in Smart’s seven seasons.
On the second play of Georgia’s next possession, the offensive line opened a huge hole for Kendall Milton, who vaulted through the open space and rushed 44 yards for a touchdown and a 37-7 lead.
Georgia rushed for 251 yards in 40 carries, surpassing 200 yards in rushing for the second straight week.
Slow start on offense
After a season low in overall offense at 363 yards, yards per game at 5.6 and passing yards at 116, the Bulldogs rallied just 125 yards in the first half.
Georgia only had one 13-yard passing play in Kentucky.
His longest in the first half went to Darnell Washington for just 11 yards in the first half.
Bennett was 5 of 10 for 28 yards. He was behind Kearis Jackson on a third downpass on Georgia’s first possession and behind Dillon Bell on a throw in the second quarter.
Georgia Tech controlled the clock – almost 17 to 13 in the first half – but Georgia maintained the lead on a 5-yard Bennett touchdown pass to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint.
The wide receiver jumped to the left and snapped the pass over Clayton Powell-Lee for a 10-7 lead with 7:59 of the second quarter.
Bennett hit McIntosh with a third-and-3 for 13 yards to keep the chains moving in the first drive of the third quarter.
Bennett threw a well-placed ball for Arian Smith to land on the right side of the endzone. Officials ruled that he had no possession for a 33-yard touchdown.
Jack Podlesny launched a 50-yard field goal to make it 13-7, his long shot this season.
Specials teams make the difference
On a day when Georgia had some costly penalties — six for a total of 70 — and his offense was nothing special, the Bulldogs’ special teams game helped carry them that day.
Ladd McConkey read a bouncing ball well on a punt in the second quarter and took it 39 yards for the Bulldogs’ longest punt return of the season. The junior then did his job as a shooter, jumping up and down a Brett Thorson-Kahn with his right hand at the 2-yard line. The versatile McConkey also left Ayinde Ealey in his tracks on a 14-yard run at the end.
Georgia’s punt team gave the ball to the Bulldogs in the Georgia Tech 17 in the third quarter when punter failed to handle snap as David Shannahan and Smael Mondon and Trezman Marshall swarmed him for a 13-yard loss to set up a Georgia touchdown.
Kicker Jack Podlesny has booted field goals of 30, 50 and 36. This 50-yarder was one season and he’s now 22 of 25 for the season in field goals.