How exactly did Georgia lose this game?
The Bulldogs passed the ball well (8.7 yards per attempt), ran the ball well (5.7 yards per rush), won the turnover battle (+2) and even ran more than they passed (38 rushes against 22 passes), but it wasn't enough to beat a game South Carolina team on the road after a one hour, 26-minute delay. The Gamecocks came away with the victory, 38-35.
South Carolina started the game with success through the air -- a pattern that held throughout the first half. Dylan Thompson was 4/4 for 64 yards on the Gamecocks' first drive of the game, finishing with a beautiful pass and catch to Shaq Roland for the touchdown.
Georgia responded in kind, scoring after just two plays. Hutson Mason found Isaiah McKenzie for 36 yards on their first play from scrimmage, and Mason followed that up with his 33-yard touchdown to Sony Michel on a screen pass.
At that point, Thompson and South Carolina went to work. The Gamecocks recorded three 75-yard touchdown drives in the first half, all ending on Thompson touchdown tosses. At halftime, the senior had completed 19 of 26 passes for 240 yards.
In the second half, Todd Gurley struck. After first-half runs of 54 and 27 yards were called back on penalties (the former of which would have been a touchdown), the junior followed up a 40-yard gain on the first drive of the third quarter with back-to-back power runs, gaining four on fourth and-short and pounding it in for the two-yard score.
The Gamecocks responded with Thompson's one-yard touchdown run, but Georgia's five-yard touchdown pass from Hutson Mason to Jay Rome and the ensuing two-point conversion made the South Carolina lead 31-28. After the two teams traded touchdowns to make the score 38-35, Thompson threw a crucial interception on third-and-10, setting up Georgia with the ball in the red zone. Georgia was unable to capitalize, running a poor sequence of plays before Marshall Morgan missed the 28-yarder that would have tied the game.
Thompson's quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches just made it past the first down marker (the ball only has to pass the last chain link), sealing the victory.
Spurrier was asked about the decision to go for it after the game, and gave a particularly Spurrier response.
Three things we learned
1. Georgia's secondary is a problem. The Bulldogs didn't have much trouble containing Cole Stoudt and Clemson, but Dylan Thompson? That's a whole different story. Thompson completed 21 of 30 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns, tearing apart the Georgia secondary in the first half before sealing the victory with that late run.
2. South Carolina's stock is flying high. Writing off the Gamecocks after their Week 1 blowout against Texas A&M would appear to be a mistake. Yes, South Carolina has some serious issues in the secondary (one a team like Texas A&M is built to exploit), but they won't face a receiving corps like the Aggies' again this season. Sure, the Gamecocks were a bit fortunate at times -- those aforementioned Georgia penalties didn't hurt, while Georgia did not have Gurley out on the field for a crucial third-and-short in the third quarter -- but South Carolina took advantage of the Bulldogs' mistakes.
3. Georgia has issues, but they'll still be an SEC contender. Todd Gurley still looks like the best player in the conference (20 carries, 131 yards), and the Bulldogs have a number of talented true freshmen. Lorenzo Carter recorded a fumble recovery, Nick Chubb continued to look mostly unstoppable on the ground and Sonny Michel caught a touchdown pass. They have plenty of work to do in the secondary (and they'll need another loss from South Carolina), but they have the pieces to compete with everyone on their schedule. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, that schedule does not include Texas A&M and their army of world-class wide receivers.