Joe Cox threw two touchdown passes, including one to Caleb King who scored twice, and Georgia beat Vanderbilt 34-10 today to snap a two-game skid.
"I don't want to know what it would have been like if we came out and lost three games in a row and then had an off week to think about it," Cox said. "We know we still have a lot of tough games left, and luckily, we're getting a break and luckily we ended our seven-game streak on a good note."
The Bulldogs (4-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) came to the right place to end their longest skid since the 2006 season. Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4) managed its most points against an SEC defense this season, but Georgia has dominated this series and won for the 14th time in 15 seasons.
"This was the best we've done at this point in a game," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
Cox started slowly, missing on his first four passes with one intercepted. The senior got going with a short toss out to the league's top receiver, and A.J. Green took it 65 yards untouched for a TD in the first as the Bulldogs never trailed.
This was Georgia's second straight trip to the Volunteer State coming off a 45-19 loss at Tennessee three hours east. The Bulldogs' two-game skid was their first since dropping games to Florida and Kentucky in consecutive weeks in 2006.
Georgia, which came in ranked 100th nationally in scoring defense, came up with three sacks and an interception that set up the Bulldogs' first TD. Richt said he thought his Bulldogs fought through a week of distractions.
"I was convinced that the best thing for us to do was to put blinders on and put on a good performance today for Georgia football," Richt said.
Now the Bulldogs have improved the series record against Vanderbilt to 50-18-2 and Richt now 8-1 with a nice boost of confidence for an offense that had scored just two TDs in the previous 11 quarters and failed to get inside the opponent's 20 even once last week.
The Bulldogs will play Florida on Oct. 31.
Georgia outgained Vanderbilt 399-296 on offense, and it came against a Commodores defense ranked 22nd nationally. Vanderbilt had been allowing just 288.3 yards per game and was even stingier against the pass, second in the country. Cox finished 16 of 31 for 226 yards.
"We couldn't keep up with them," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said.
The TD pass to Green was the longest in the careers for both, and that seemed to get the senior quarterback going. He completed three straight passes to set up Caleb King's 2-yard TD run in the second for a 14-3 lead. Cox later helped clinch the win with a screen pass to Caleb King that the running back took 21 yards for a 27-10 lead.
Blair Walsh kicked two field goals, and Fred Munzenmaier added a 9-yard TD run for Georgia.
Vanderbilt tried a few tricks looking for its first SEC win and to keep alive its faint hopes of the first back-to-back bowl berths in school history. Johnson faked a punt, letting Brett Upson run for a first down at midfield and got it. He also tried to boost his offense by starting Jamie Graham at wide receiver for the first time this season after focusing solely on defense.
It wasn't enough as the Commodores lost their third straight, and Johnson pulled Smith for Mackenzi Adams late. But Johnson is sticking with Smith as his starter.
"We couldn't give (Smith) time to pass the ball. They were getting him out of the pocket. We wanted to move Jamie to get a big play threat at wide receiver. I don't think Georgia respected our big play threat, and they played a lot of man."
They got within the Georgia 28 twice in the first half and had to settle for a 41-yard field goal from Ryan Fowler while turning it over on downs on the other drive. They opened the third quarter with their longest drive this season, eating up four minutes, 16 seconds before Smith found Brandon Barden, a former Lincoln County standout, with a 5-yard TD pass that was just his third of 2009.
Georgia immediately answered with a drive capped by Walsh's second field goal, a 43-yarder for a 20-10 lead.
A week after Brandon Boykin scored on a kickoff return, Prince Miller provided the excitement on punt returns. He had a 55-yarder in the first half, and his 40-yarder to the Vanderbilt 31 at the start of the fourth quarter set up Cox's final TD pass.