Georgia and its fans weren’t quite saying that after the No. 18 Bulldogs rolled up a 49-3 halftime lead over undermanned New Mexico State on Saturday en route to a 63-16 thrashing in Sanford Stadium.
Yet without suspended leading rusher Isaiah Crowell, injured tailback Richard Samuel and two other suspended backs, the Bulldogs’ offense still was humming.
Quarterback Aaron Murray set Georgia records for touchdown passes in a quarter and a half when he threw five in the second period alone, which tied a program record for touchdown passes in a game.
Former walk-on Brandon Harton more than picked up the slack by rushing for a game-high 98 yards, and walk-on Kyle Karempelis added 63 yards on the ground.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he was “sick to his stomach” in the lead-up to the game with his backfield decimated.
He felt much better after he got the ball in the hands of Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith, who each scored touchdowns. Georgia was able to move the ball relying more on three-receiver, one-back, one-tight end sets.
“I’ve been worried all week, but I thought the guys played well,” Bobo said. “They were ready, they were prepared. They knew what to do. I don’t think that group had a missed assignment the whole game. Then the other guys stepped up and played well around them.”
The Bulldogs’ nine touchdowns came from nine players on a day in which they scored their most points and accumulated their most total yards (627) in coach Mark Richt’s 11 seasons.
It was Georgia’s highest scoring output since a 70-6 win over Northeast Louisiana in 1994. Georgia scored 42 second-quarter points, seven off the NCAA record for points in a quarter. It came against a team ranked 109th in the nation in total defense.
Georgia (7-2) extended its winning streak to seven games, its longest in the regular season since winning seven in a row to start the 2005 season. The Bulldogs won their final six games in 2007 before routing Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.
“The goal for the week was to improve,” Richt said. “We knew that this game had no bearing whether or not we could get back to Atlanta (for the SEC championship game). But if we were fortunate enough to get back to Atlanta, this week and this game could hopefully help us improve where we’d be more ready for that type of a game.”
New Mexico State (3-6) fell to 0-14 against current SEC teams but received a $925,000 paycheck for its troubles.
“This was not Aggie football,” New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker said.
With the Bulldogs back in Sanford Stadium for the first time in five weeks, the game was a tailor-made homecoming rout smack dab in the middle of games against rivals Florida and Auburn.
“This was a game for us to come in here and tone our skills,” said backup quarterback Hutson Mason, who played the entire second half and completed Georgia’s scoring with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Rhett McGowan with 5:51 left.
Georgia tied its school record for most points in a half – 49, dating back to 1950 – despite missing Crowell, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome, who were reportedly suspended for failing a drug test.
The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter after a 56-yard touchdown run by Smith, who got the start at tailback. The advantage could have been more, but Harton fumbled into the end zone for a touchback.
Murray did ask for a shot at TD No. 6.
“I actually thought Hutson was going to get in earlier than that,” he said.
After Harton’s first career touchdown on a 4-yard run, Murray threw five touchdown passes in a span of 8:32 on a day in which he completed 18 of 23 passes for 238 yards.
“Just about every decision he made was the right one,” Richt said.