The Sports Xchange
Posted with permission from The Sports Xchange
ATLANTA -- The College Football Playoff will feature a red and black hue.
That's because the sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs did what few expected -- blow past No. 2 Auburn 28-7 to win the SEC Championship Game and presumably clinch a spot in the four-team playoff, set to be announced Sunday afternoon.
The conference title is the first for Georgia (12-1) since 2005 and gives the Bulldogs a shot at greater glory. Should Kirby Smart's team win its semifinal contest on New Year's Day, the team would have a chance to play one more game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, this time for a national crown.
Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm led the Bulldogs, completing 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards and two scores. Freshman D'Andre Swift led all rushers with seven carries for 88 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run.
Rodrigo Blankenship converted a pair of field goals to account for Georgia's other six points.
Auburn was held to just 259 yards, despite accounting for the game's first touchdown on a 6-yard pass to Nate Craig-Myers in the first quarter.
With Georgia leading 10-7 after a hard-fought first half, Auburn maneuvered into position for a 30-yard game-tying field goal attempt by Daniel Carlson, only to have the kick blocked by seldom-used defensive lineman DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle.
That was just the beginning of Georgia's second-half surge.
After a 35-yard field goal by Blankenship pushed the lead to six, Georgia's defense did it again. Lorenzo Carter stripped Kerryon Johnson of the ball, which Roquan Smith picked up and returned to the Tigers' 39.
Four plays later, Fromm threw his second touchdown pass -- a 7-yarder to Terry Godwin. A subsequent two-point conversion -- also to Godwin -- pushed the lead to 21-7 and putting the pro-Bulldog crowd of 76,534 into a frenzy.
Georgia wasn't done.
After the Bulldogs stopped the Tigers (10-3) on their next possession, Swift picked up a huge block from Javon Wims to rip off a 64-yard touchdown run, extending the margin to 28-7.
The first half was certainly interesting.
After Auburn jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on a 6-yard pass from Jarrett Stidham to Craig-Myers, it looked like the Tigers were about to blow the game open when they set themselves up at the Bulldog 14-yard line, the key play a 26-yard pass to Eli Stove.
However, that's when outside linebacker Davin Bellamy made a huge play, sacking Stidham, forcing a fumble that Smith recovered.
This time, Georgia's offense -- which struggled early -- finally found its rhythm.
A 16-yard run by Nick Chubb and 34-yard long pass across the middle from Fromm to Mecole Hardman, set up a 2-yard toss to a wide-open Isaac Nauta to tie the game.
Penalties kept the Bulldogs doing even more damage.
After forcing a quick three-and-out following Nauta's short catch, Georgia quickly marched down the field, getting the football right to the edge of the end zone, before a collision in the backfield dropped Chubb for a 2-yard loss.
On the next play, Fromm found Godwin all by himself for an apparent 3-yard touchdown, only to have Wims -- who was blocking on the play -- called for an offensive pass interference. This forced Georgia to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Blankenship, giving the Bulldogs their 10-7 lead that they would carry into the locker room.
NOTES: Georgia RB Nick Chubb, with 77 yards, moved into second place on the SEC's all-time rushing list with 4,599. ... Auburn's seven points was its second-fewest this year after scoring six against Clemson earlier this year. ... The Bulldogs played without FB Christian Payne, who suffered an undisclosed injury against Georgia Tech.