After Crushing No. 11 Oregon, No. 3 Georgia Will Cruise To SEC Championship Game (Maybe Farther)

If you’re Georgia, and if you wish to repeat as national champions of college football, and if you feel disrespected by your No. 3 ranking in the preseason, then you should do something like spend your opening game beating the green, yellow and quacking out of the No. 11 Oregon Ducks.

So . . .

Georgia did that.

Georgia did so emphatically against thoroughly overmatched Oregon Saturday in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium during a scrimmage game for the Bulldogs disguised as the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Georgia did enough to show:

  • Brock Bowers, Darnell Washington and the rest of their slew of tight ends are as potent as advertised.
  • They’ve got enough behind a solid offensive to become Tailback U again with Kenny McIntosh leading the way (6.3 yards per carry against Oregon as part of a rushing attack of seven players producing 132 yards).
  • Neither the secondary nor the front seven will suffer much from losing five Georgia defenders to the 2022 NFL draft.
  • Stetson Bennett remains splendid.

Given all of that, along with a schedule weaker than Oregon’s defense in this one (allowing seven touchdowns during each of the opening seven drives for Georgia), the Bulldogs should take a 12-0 record into the SEC title game, where they’ll play for the fifth time in six years.

They had a record 15 players drafted overall by the NFL this spring, but they showed zero signs against Oregon of lacking talent or desire.

“We tried to talk about coming out and playing as if we were hunting, and we wanted to play connected football,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after a nearly flawless 49-3 victory that should move the Bulldogs closer in the polls to No. 2 Ohio State and even to No. 1 Alabama. “That was all we talked about all week; we’re going to play connected, we’re going to play aggressive, we’re going to be a hunter. Kids kind of bought into that theme, and they like playing here.”

Smart’s reference to “here” was regarding the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, but it also applied to any football venue in Atlanta, which is 71 miles from Georgia’s campus.

Every other year, Georgia travels “here” to play Georgia Tech.

The College Football Playoff (CFP) occasionally sends one of its semifinal games or championship game “here,” and such will be the case after this season when a semifinal game comes to town.

The SEC title game takes place “here” every year, and so do these preseason Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games, which started in 2008.

According to Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game officials, their creation has generated $512.8 million in economic impact to Atlanta. They said it also has provided $34.3 million in combined direct and state local tax revenue.

Those haven’t been the only lofty numbers associated with Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games, which have increased to two games in recent years.

The other 2022 game will happen Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium between No. 4 Clemson and unranked Georgia Tech. Since Georgia Tech is the home team from a punt or two away, Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game officials said the Yellow Jackets won’t join Oregon, Clemson and Georgia in splitting the $14.5 million in payouts.

Which meant Oregon was compensated nicely for getting clobbered by everything Georgia had to offer.

Which was a lot.

Nobody bruised Oregon more than the right arm of Bennett, Georgia’s sixth year quarterback who completed 25 of his 31 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns before he rested near the end of the third quarter.

Bennett did much last season to lead the Bulldogs to their first national championship in 41 years, but he came off the bench to do it. Now he’s in his maiden journey as Georgia’s’ starting quarterback since the opening of spring practices.

If you go by Bennett’s Oregon masterpiece, that’s awful news for the rest of the Bulldogs’ opponents, especially since No. 20 Kentucky is the only other ranked foe on their schedule.

“Hey, I waited, right?” Bennett said of chance to start. “I came, I performed whenever it was my turn, and now like, hey, you sit behind me for a year and then next year it’s going to be your turn. That’s kind of the program that Coach Smart is building. It’s about the program. I think we understand that.”

Here’s something else we understand: Georgia is very good, or Oregon is very bad, or it’s both.

Mostly, Georgia is very good.