ATHENS — Stetson Bennett sounded a bit like Justin Timberlake’s character in The social network. The 37-14 win over Georgia Tech took Georgia 12-0 in the season and gave the Bulldogs back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons.
But going undefeated in the regular season isn’t cool, nor is a million dollars in the 2010 film about the launch of Facebook. Not when you’re in Georgia trying to win back-to-back national championships.
“We work for it. Coaches work for it. The players work for it,” said Bennett. “We didn’t start this season trying to go 12-0. We tried to go 15-0.” We have another step ahead in Atlanta next week. But it is something special.”
Saturday was Bennett’s last home game. The above quote was the closest Bennett came to being sentimental about everything he accomplished during his time at Georgia.
This is due to the Bulldogs’ poor performance in the first half. Georgia gave up its first touchdown in the first quarter of the season on the defensive side of the ball. Georgia then went 3-and-out on his first offensive possession and Georgia had just 10 points at halftime.
Bennett thought the pre-game celebrations played a role in Georgia’s slow start. He finished the game with 10 of his 18 pass attempts for two touchdowns. But nearly 60 percent of his 140 passing yards came to Kenny McIntosh in the fourth quarter.
“To be honest, I’m not really a big Senior Day fan,” Bennett said. “It’s hard to play in and I’ve had to do it twice now.”
Related: Georgia Football-Georgia Tech’s instant observations as Bulldogs wrap up perfect regular season
Despite this, Georgia, as so often, won with Bennett under the middle. The Bulldogs are now 26-3 with Bennett as the starting quarterback. They were the No. 1 team for most of the season, with Bennett playing at his best in Georgia’s biggest games against teams like Oregon and Tennessee.
“Incredible effect. He’s a leader, he’s tough, a competitor. He’s just been here for what feels like forever,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart. “He embodies our team with his competitive strength. He has to keep doing the things he does for us to be successful. We know we really have to play better in all three phases, better than today, if we want to get where we want to be.”
Bennett is now 2-0 as a starting quarterback as a senior on Senior Day, which perhaps best exemplifies the long, odd journey Bennett has traveled since first visiting campus in 2016. The extra senior day came in part because of the extra year of eligibility granted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Bennett came to Georgia in the fall of 2017, the idea of winning a national championship was just a dream for that program. Georgia went 8-5 in 2016. When he played his last game at Sanford Stadium, it was almost expected.
One of only three remaining undefeated teams, Georgia is well positioned to make the college football playoffs for a second straight season.
Bennett undoubtedly left Georgia in a better position than he found her as a freshman. He smiled slyly when a reporter asked him if he ever dreamed of being in that position as a walk-on. As hard as it may be for some to believe, Bennett always has.
The program is at a point where an undefeated regular season is special and cool, but not the ultimate goal for this program.
Especially when that group knows it’s possible with Bennett in the middle.
“This is a proud moment for us. We put a lot of work into the offseason before each week,” said linebacker Smael Mondon. “It’s a good way for the seniors to go out in this stadium. It’s good to send them off with a win.”
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett is not happy with his performance on Senior Day
More Georgia football stories centered around DawgNation