USC played Georgia nearly even for nearly a half Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. But the final seconds of the second quarter and all of the third quarter turned into a Bulldog induced nightmare as Georgia whipped the Gamecocks for the fourth straight time 41-17 in front of an announced crowd of over 83,000 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
USC withstood a quick 14-0 Georgia burst in the first quarter, including a pick six on a ball that bounced out of Rico Dowdle’s hands, and trailed with the ball 17-10 late in the second quarter. The drive stalled at the USC 49 and an 18 yard punt by Joseph Charlton set up the Bulldogs at their own 33 with 43 seconds left in the half.
Jake Fromm quickly moved the Bulldogs into field goal range and Rodrigo Blankenship hit from 44 yards on the final play of the half for a 20-10 lead.
The Bulldogs took the second half kickoff and went 75 yards in just over two minutes, and the route was on. They would go on to out gain the Gamecocks 225-76 in the quarter to pull away to their second one-sided victory in the last four years.
While Georgia was driving for scores in the quarter, USC had a pair of quick three and outs. The Gamecocks did have a drive inside the red zone at the end of the quarter, but that was wiped out by a Jake Bentley pass interception early in the fourth quarter.
The Gamecock defense was not able to disrupt Fromm in the air. He was 15-18 for 194 yards and had little trouble dropping the ball off to his fleet receivers, primarily Mercole Hardman. He had catches of 42 and 34 yards and a lateral that counted as a rush of 30 yards.
Hardman was one of five Bulldog rushers to gain more than 30 yards. Elijah Holyfield led the way with 76 yards on 9 carries as the Bulldogs rushed for 271 yards compared to 54 for the Gamecocks.
Bentley did his best to give the Gamecocks an offensive spark. He was 30-47 for 269 yards, but his completion mostly were short and underneath. His longest completion, his only one of over 18 yards, was a 44 yard touchdown pass to Bryant Edwards late in the game.
Edwards finished with 7 catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Deebo Samuel was targeted early by Bentley. Samuel was marked most of the day by Georgia’s oustanding corner Deandre Baker and though he had 6 catches, he mustered just 33 yards.
It was Baker who took the deflected pass in the first quarter back for what seemed a touchdown. But he actually put the ball down at the one. His teammate, Juwan Taylor, picked up and stepped into the end zone and was credited with the touchdown.
Jake Bentley & Bryan Edwards
Zack Bailey and TJ Brunson
Rico Dowdle & Steven Montac
This was viewed as litmus test for Muschamp and his program early in year three, fair or not going up against one of the top three teams in the country. It’s a test the Gamecocks failed. They’ll have a chance to turn things back right the next two weeks against Marshall and Vanderbilt. If the Gamecocks can be 3-1 going into Kentucky, they still could make something special of this season and show the progress Muschamp has been working toward.
Will Muschamp postgame press conference:
And here’s my Periscope review of the game from Williams-Brice Stadium
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) September 9, 2018