Things were pretty scary in Athens, Ga., on Saturday during Georgia’s home opener. The No. 9 ranked Dawgs opened with FCS Nicholls State, and escaped with a narrow 26-24 victory.
Let’s take a moment to put into perspective the anticipated quality of FCS Nicholls State, which went 3-8 last year. In Jeff Sagarin's ratings, Nicholls is ranked 240th out of 253 Division I teams. Also, Georgia was a 55-point favorite heading into this matchup. Keep these numbers in mind before I continue.
Georgia was only leading 10-7 at halftime, despite putting up 198 total yards of offense. The Dawgs appeared to be pulling away in the third quarter, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal. The defense held Nicholls State to just a field goal to take a 26-14 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Colonels decided to make things interesting by scoring a field goal and then forcing and recovering a UGA fumble inside Georgia’s own 10 with just over four minutes to go. Nicholls State would capitalize and score to cut UGA’s lead to just two, 26-24.
The Colonels’ kickoff was fielded by Isaiah McKenzie inside Georgia’s own seven yard line. Luckily for Georgia fans, Nick Chubb and the UGA offense was able to run the clock down and narrowly escape with a victory, but Georgia looks drastically different after this win.
Quarterback Jacob Eason, who was named the starter after throwing for 131 yards and a touchdown last week against North Carolina, looked alright — this week he completed 50 percent of his passes, and had a touchdown and interception. The costly interception in the fourth quarter thrown by Eason resulted in backup Greyson Lambert coming into the game. Given that Eason was benched after this play might suggest the QB battle isn’t quite done in Athens. Not to mention Nick Chubb was held to just 80 yards on the day.
Georgia’s defense allowed 236 total yards of offense on the day, which is a bit concerning given that the Dawgs open SEC play against Missouri next week.
After a shaky performance in a game that Georgia should have won handily, don’t expect Georgia to remain in the top ten. One thing’s for certain — head coach Kirby Smart still has a lot of work to do in his first season.