No. 11 Georgia puts clamps on No. 17 Mississippi St.
ATHENS, Ga. — Kirby Smart isn’t ready to start claiming greatness for 11th-ranked Georgia.
However, the Bulldogs are undoubtedly going to start gaining more attention after Saturday night’s 31-3 rout of No. 17 Mississippi State. Just don’t suggest to the Georgia coach that the team has turned some sort of corner.
Not yet, anyway.
“I know everyone wants to write how good this was, but we’ve still got dropped balls, we had missed blocks and we still had missed tackles,” Smart said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement and we’ve got a team that’s got to go on the road (to Tennessee) this week just like Mississippi State had to after a big win.”
Give Georgia’s defense a tip of the cap for this one.
The Bulldogs made the game a nightmare for Mississippi State and Nick Fitzgerald, considered by many one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.
Not on this night.
Fitzgerald completed just 14 of 29 passes with two interceptions for 89 yards as Georgia (4-0, 1-0 SEC) limited Mississippi State (3-1, 1-1) to 280 yards and zero touchdowns.
Coach Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs entered the game as the leading offensive team in the SEC, averaging 47.7 points through three games.
“I think we came out with a good attitude,” said Fitzgerald, who threw interceptions to Deandre Baker and Dominick Sanders during back-to-back series in the third quarter. “We played hard, there’s no doubt about that. We just did not execute.”
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and running back Nick Chubb proved to be a formidable combination.
Fromm, a freshman, enjoyed his best game in three starts, completing 9 of 12 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Chubb, meanwhile, had a customary solid game, rushing for 81 yards and two scores, including a 28-yarder on the opening possession of the third quarter that extended Georgia’s lead to 21-3.
A 41-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Nauta and a 49-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship capped the scoring for the Bulldogs.
Freshman D’Andre Swift chipped with 10 carries for 69 yards for Georgia, which rushed for 203 yards.
“Balance is pretty much always the game plan,” Chubb said. “We take what they give. I thought we did a great job with that. We just look forward to carrying it on.”
Color Mullen impressed.
“They’ve got a ridiculous amount of talent,” Mullen said. “That’s evident.”
After forcing Mississippi State into a quick three-and-out to start the game, Georgia wasted no time getting on the board.
On the Bulldogs’ first offensive play, Chubb took the handoff, turned and tossed the ball back to Fromm, who found Terry Godwin open down the field for a 59-yard touchdown.
Georgia’s second possession also resulted in a score, this one a 6-yard run by Chubb for a 14-0 lead with just over six minutes left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs dodged a bullet in the second quarter when Swift fumbled inside the team’s 40-yard line, but Mississippi State could not take advantage of the gift, ultimately punting for the fifth time in the first half.
The visitors got on the board with 1:14 to go before halftime on a 26-yard field goal by Jace Christmann.
Otherwise, not much went right for Mississippi State.
Fromm had the best half of his young career, completing 8 of 8 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown.
Georgia returns to action for the first of two back-to-back road games at Tennessee, followed by a trip to Vanderbilt.
“Humility is a week away,” Smart said. “Whether we lost this one or lost this one, we’d have to refocus, concentrate and get ready to do this again.”
NOTES: Georgia QB Jacob Eason dressed out for the first time since spraining his left knee in the first quarter against Appalachian State in the season opener. After the game, Kirby Smart said he was not cleared to play. ... Injured Mississippi State DT Cory Thomas did not play. ... Georgia lost starting LG Solomon Kindley to an ankle injury late in the third quarter. X-rays were negative, but coach Kirby Smart was unsure how long the redshirt freshman will be out.