No. 3 Georgia Proves It Is Safe to Travel Far from Athens

NC Nighthawk@NC Nighthawk (my Xbox gamertag)Analyst ISeptember 21, 2008


Despite some careless penalties and a few other typical early season miscues, I was very pleased with the way the Georgia Bulldogs took care of business Saturday night on national television against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Junkyard Dogs’ defense controlled the Sun Devils’ offense the entire game.

The No. 3 Bulldogs showed Saturday night it is safe to venture far away from the land of sweet tea and grits to play some non-conference football after their 27-10 victory over Arizona State Saturday night before 72,955 at Sun Devil Stadium.

Georgia improved to 27-4 in opponent's home stadiums under Head Coach Mark Richt and extended its winning streak to 11 games.

I read too much hype about this was the longest regular season road trip for the Bulldogs in 48 years. No big deal. In the south, Delta is ready when you are. Georgia (4-0) ended up feeling comfy and cozy in its first non-bowl trip this far west since a 1960 journey to Southern California.

The temperature at kickoff was 99 degrees and still a sweltering 94 degrees at the end of the third quarter. This sounds like a typical temperature in the state of Georgia early in the season, except without the suffocating humidity, in dry-air Arizona. Of course, Georgia Coach Mark Richt always is prepared with rotations, especially for the the offensive and defensive linemen. No sweat.

According to The Athens Banner-Herald,The freshman wide receiver, A.J. Green, an emerging superstar had seven catches for 150 yards in the first half alone to help open a 21-3 lead. He finished with eight for 159 and a touchdown on a night when quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for a career-high 285 yards and the Bulldogs tried and succeeded to get the ball in the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Green's hands more.

Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford completed just one of his first five passes, but completed 16 of 28 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown.

"There was an effort, but their coverage dictated a lot of it," Stafford said. "It was stuff where they were playing off of him and he had a chance to just catch balls underneath and he made some great catches over the top, too. He's a good player. He's got a lot of body control, and for his frame he's a lot stronger in the air than you would think."

Green, who became the first Georgia receiver to reach the 100-yard mark in receiving since Kenneth Harris against Mississippi State on Oct. 21, 2006.

"Just when the opportunity is called, they threw it my way," Green said. "It was good that I was open. I ran good routes and helped my team out."

Like the Everyready Energizer Battery Rabbit, the Bulldogs kept going and going and going to Green in the first half, including three catches for 68 yards on a 70-yard scoring drive before halftime.

Green had a leaping catch of 31 yards over the middle surrounded by two Arizona State defenders and then caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in the left side of the end zone and Georgia opened a 21-3 lead. He accounted for 66 percent of Georgia's total yards of offense in the first half and finished with the highest yardage output by an SEC receiver this year.

"What you saw today was really something that I think a lot of the team has been waiting to come out," cornerback Asher Allen said. "He most definitely changed the game today."

I was most impressed by the discipline and control displayed by the Georgia defense. Arizona State (2-2) was held to just four yards rushing on 19 carries, its lowest output since it had minus-two against California on Nov. 9, 2002.

Sun Devils quarterback Rudy Carpenter (23 of 36 for 208 yards, one touchdown pass) was sacked four times. A 6-yard Carpenter touchdown pass to tight end Andrew Pettes early in the third quarter was the Sun Devils lone touchdown.

Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran had nine tackles including two for loss with a sack. "We just showed the nation what our defense is capable of," Curran said.

The Bulldogs played before the biggest crowd at Sun Devil Stadium since Sept. 28, 1991 against Nebraska. There were at least 10,000 Georgia fans on hand, who chanted "UGA, UGA," after the Bulldogs opened a 14-0 lead following Knowshon Moreno touchdown runs of nine and three yards. He finished with 149 yards on 23 carries.

"It was great to see our fans out there cheering and making it hard for Arizona State on third down," Stafford said. "That was fun to see. I'm glad we got a win for them."

After winning its first three games but still dropping from the top spot in the polls to No. 3, the Bulldogs left the desert with a convincing victory against a team that was co-Pac 10 champions last year.

"The polls are the polls," Davis said. "We've got to worry about Alabama. They're hot as fire right now."

"We were coming out here to get the W and that's what we did, but we wanted to prove the SEC is a better conference," said sophomore offensive lineman Chris Davis. "We came out and hit them in the mouth."

Georgia returns home for a quick turnaround for a top 10 clash with unbeaten and No. 9 Alabama Saturday night. Alabama routed Arkansas 49-14 Saturday.



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