Georgia 45, LSU 16
This is how Georgia Coach Mark Richt envisioned his offense working -- his receivers out-running and out-jumping cornerbacks, his quarterback standing calmly in the pocket and dissecting an opponent with precision and confidence, his running backs slashing through the line of scrimmage and fighting for extra yards.
For much of four seasons, since leaving Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden's cradle to take over a Bulldogs program that had not won a Southeastern Conference championship in 20 years, Richt waited for his offense to explode. Even when he led the Bulldogs to an SEC title in his second season, Georgia won with defense and special teams, its offense seemingly stuck in neutral.
Finally, during Saturday's 45-16 victory over defending co-national champion LSU in front of a sellout crowd of 92,746 fans at Sanford Stadium, Richt saw flashes of that high-powered offense. Bulldogs quarterback David Greene threw a school-record five touchdowns, two each to senior receivers Reggie Brown and Fred Gibson, who repeatedly beat Tigers cornerbacks Travis Daniels and Corey Webster, a preseason all-American selection. Also, Bulldogs freshman Danny Ware ran 22 times for 109 yards, becoming the first player to run for 100 yards against the Tigers this season.
"I'm just tickled to death about what happened," Richt said. "I'm a little bit surprised, myself. I thought we could win the game, but not in that fashion."
It was a relief for Richt, who had grown increasingly impatient with his team's offensive struggles and the media's questions regarding the Bulldogs' woes. (In his postgame news conference, Richt publicly apologized for snapping at a reporter earlier in the week.) After Georgia's less-than-spectacular victories in the past two games, 20-16 at South Carolina and 13-3 against Marshall, some college football observers were beginning to wonder if the Bulldogs were worthy of their No. 3 ranking, the program's highest-ever preseason ranking.
"I think we showed everybody why we're number three," Gibson said. "We scored points and played great defense. That sounds like a good football game to me. I hope it's a statement. We just put up 45 points against the defending national champs."
With a dominating performance against No. 13 LSU, which beat the Bulldogs twice last season, including a 34-13 win in the SEC championship game in Atlanta, Georgia (4-0, 2-0) got a leg up in the rugged SEC East. The Tigers (3-2, 1-2), who finished 13-1 last season and beat Oklahoma, 21-14, in the Sugar Bowl to claim the Bowl Championship Series title, lost for the second time in three games. The loss was LSU's worst since Florida beat the Tigers, 41-9, during Coach Nick Saban's first season in 2000, and the most points LSU has allowed during Saban's tenure.
"We started out very sluggish, and Georgia came out fast and furious," Saban said. "I thought we were ready to play, and the outcome is a curveball to me."
The Bulldogs jumped on the Tigers early, scoring on four consecutive possessions in the first half. Greene's first touchdown pass was a 25-yarder to Brown on third and 10 on Georgia's second possession. After Andy Bailey kicked a 32-yard field goal to make it 10-0, Georgia recovered two LSU fumbles in the second quarter. Greene threw touchdowns after each turnover, two yards to Gibson and 29 yards to Brown, giving the Bulldogs a 24-0 lead.
"We just got into a groove," said Greene, who completed 10 of 19 passes for 172 yards. "You can't really explain it. If I could, I'd do it every week. Sometimes, you just feel good."
The Tigers scored 10 points in the final 83 seconds of the first half on JaMarcus Russell's 18-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe and Chris Jackson's 31-yard field goal, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 24-10 at halftime. But Greene threw two more touchdowns in the third quarter, 24 yards to Gibson and 21 yards to sophomore Sean Bailey. Georgia freshman Thomas Brown scored on a one-yard run with 61/2 minutes left to make it 45-10.
LSU seemed out of sync for much of the game. Late in the third quarter, receiver Xavier Carter caught a kickoff in the end zone, ran and took a knee at the Tigers 1-yard line. After Marcus Randall threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Carter with 1 minute 51 seconds left, Jackson missed his fifth extra-point attempt of the season. The Tigers ran 29 times for 67 yards, and Georgia sacked Randall and Russell five times combined.