Georgia’s final tune-up for SEC play became the expected blowout that most anticipated Saturday night against Samford.
There was no Nicholls State repeat from last September where it came down to the final minutes.
Georgia drilled its FCS opponent this time, 42-14, in its highest scoring output under second-year coach Kirby Smart.
Sure, after seeing his No. 13 ranked team run out to a three touchdown lead, Smart had some anxious moments after a Jake Fromm second-quarter fumble gave Samford the ball at the Georgia 25 with a chance to cut the lead to a touchdown.
That was a distant memory when freshman D’Andre Swift dazzled with an 11-yard touchdown run after a nifty spin move at the 7-yard line with 1:27 left in the third quarter. Wofford graduate transfer David Marvin booted the extra point to open a 42-7 lead. Samford tacked on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 13:49 to go from Devlin Hodges to Kelvin McKnight. 13:49 to go and backup quarterback Brice Ramsey entered the game for Georgia.
Georgia opens its SEC schedule Saturday night at home against Mississippi State, which routed No. 12 LSU, 37-7 Saturday night, in a matchup of 3-0 Bulldog teams that suddenly will have plenty of national interest and marks the first game in Athens for Todd Grantham, the former Georgia defensive coordinator now in the same position under Dan Mullen.
Up by 14 at the half, Georgia cashed in after a Samford fumble 45 seconds into the third quarter was recovered by nose guard John Atkins.
Nick Chubb scored on a 14-yard run—his second touchdown in a game he rushed for 131 yards on 16 carries—and the Bulldogs pulled away.
There was no Notre Dame hangover.
Georgia was coming off what UGA president Jere Morehead Friday called “a historic win,” in South Bend a week earlier, telling the athletic board Friday that was a “great weekend for the University of Georgia” when nearly half the stadium was filled with Bulldog fans.
This time, the game was shown on the SEC Network Alternative channel if fans could find it on their clicker.
The lopsided win probably won’t register much nationally given the talent disparity between the programs but as the Bulldogs learned last September it isn’t guaranteed a blowout for the $500,000 payout it gave to the Southern Conference school from near Birmingham.
Georgia escaped Nicholls State with a 26-24 decision a year ago against another FCS opponent.
Fromm, the true freshman, threw three touchdown passes and completed 8 of 13 for 165 yards without an interception. He got his first home start and second replacing Jacob Eason, who remains out with a sprained left knee.
Fromm threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes—five yards to sophomore Mecole Hardman and 51 to Terry Godwin—and also connected with Riley Ridley on a 47-yard deep ball against a suspect Samford pass defense.
After a Roquan Smith stop on fourth-and-1 of Treyvon Paul for no gain, Fromm hit Godwin (four catches, 98 yards, two touchdowns) for 32 yards and then on a 9-yard touchdown with 8:33 left in the third quarter
Samford hails from the Southern Conference, whose have pulled stunners against SEC teams in recent seasons: The Citadel over South Carolina in 2015 and Georgia Southern over Florida in 2013.
Fromm’s fumble on a 1-yard scramble after being hit by Deion Pierre with 4:58 in the second quarter was recovered by Christian Stark.
Things were getting tight after Samford scored on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was aided by a late hit penalty by safety Dominick Sanders after a 14-yard Moise Satine rush.
That was Samford’s initial first down of the game and it came five minutes into the second quarter in a game Georgia was dominating statistically 278-23 and 12-0 on first downs despite tailback Sony Michel being held out due to a sprained ankle.
Senior outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter came up big, getting a second down sack and pressuring quarterback Devlin Hodges into an incompletion.
Then defensive back J.R. Reed got his hand on Jordan Weaver’s 37-yard field goal try for a block with 2:45 to go in the half.
The defense made another big play when Atkins recovered a fumble on an exchange early in the third quarter at the Samford 27.
Georgia fed Chubb the ball three times for 23 yards, getting the 14-yard touchdown when the senior went up the middle before seeing an opening on the left side of the line and headed to the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
He scored earlier on a 32-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0. He went up the middle and cut back and hit the open field down the left side for the score.
Chubb had his 19th career 100-yard rushing game, but like the rest of Georgia’s frontline players, he got a chance to rest up with the game decided for the grind of the SEC slate.