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Winners and losers of Georgian football after completing the perfect regular season
Winner: Georgia Special Teams
Neither Georgia’s offense nor defense had strong plays in the first half on Saturday. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to the game of Georgian special teams.
“I thought special teams got through today,” Smart said. “And it’s the first game in a long time where we’ve done some plays on special teams to give us some momentum and get us rolling. so proud of it.”
Jack Podlesny made all three of his field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder, to give him a new mark for the entire season. Punter Brett Thorson had caught a punt fair after boosting it 51 yards. His only other punt of the afternoon was put down at the one-yard line after Ladd McConkey was able to tip and catch the ball before the ball reached the end zone.
McConkey also ripped off a 39-yard punt return on Saturday. The Bulldogs were able to make winning games at almost every stage of the special teams.
Georgia Tech, meanwhile, didn’t have the same high level of execution. His punter dropped a punt and set Georgia up for an excellent field position. The Bulldogs responded by finding Brock Bowers for a touchdown to really help open the game.
Smart talks all the time about the importance of special teams and Saturday showed why that is. It can absolutely help you win games, even though the Bulldogs shouldn’t have needed it for that.
Loser: The SEC Championship Game
What should have been a top-five team matchup now looks a lot less appetizing after the Tigers were eliminated, losing 38-23 to Texas A&M. Mind you, the Aggies hadn’t scored more than 30 points in an FBS game all season, and LSU saw quarterback Jayden Daniels pick up an ankle injury.
“We kept him in a boot for today. His exam was good today,” said LSU coach Brian Kelly. “We’re pretty optimistic about his ability to train on Tuesday.”
Related: Georgian football looking forward to 2022 SEC championship game: ‘I already wanted to play LSU again’
Georgia is still investing heavily in winning the SEC Championship. It’s something last year’s team failed to achieve, and it would eliminate any drama when the College Football Playoff rankings come out on Sunday. A win is also likely to put Georgia into the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs in Atlanta.
Add to that the fact that Georgia has as many national championships under Smart as it has SEC championships. The Georgia coach wants to change that next Saturday.
“We’re worried about winning the SEC championship,” Smart said. “The most important thing on our agenda is to have the opportunity to do something that is rarely done. I mean it’s hard to win an SEC championship. I’ve been part of this league for a long time. I have almost as many national championships as I have SEC championships. They’re really hard to come by.”
Much of the national attention normally reserved for this game will be elsewhere, as LSU is the first SEC team to make it to Florida with three losses since Florida did so in 2016. The Gators lost that game 54–16 to No. 1-ranked Alabama.
The Bulldogs are hoping for a similar result on Saturday, even if the mutual fan is hoping for something more competitive.
Winner: Stetson Bennett
Saturday wasn’t Bennett’s best day. Much of his passing yards came at an 83-yard cent to run back Kenny McIntosh. In Bennett’s last home game at Sanford Stadium, he had just 140 passing yards and two touchdowns.
But with the win, Bennett capped a rather remarkable run as Georgia’s starting quarterback. While he wasn’t always the biggest single reason for Georgia’s success, Georgia is 26-3 in games started by Bennett.