COLUMBIA, SC — South Carolina and its fans were revved up into a frenzy for a big-game atmosphere.
The white towels. The familiar electronic dance song Sandstorm. The 2001: A Space Odyssey entrance.
After they kicked it off, things settled into orderly fashion Saturday and an ugly one for the home team.
Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) more than looked the part as the No. 1 team in the nation in the AP poll and No. 2 in the USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll by taking control early and rolling to a 48-7 victory.
Game recap: Georgia 48, South Carolina 7: Get postgame analysis and commentary from Bulldogs SEC opener
In case you missed it: Greyson Lambert, UGA Law School grad, on record day vs. Gamecocks and post football life
Those fans in a crowd of 78,212? Many headed for the exits at the end of the first half as the Bulldogs built a 24-0 lead. The student section was barren before the end of the third quarter.
“We kind of had the plan to come out fast and try to make the fans not really a factor in the game,” Bulldogs tight end Brock Bowers said.
Here are five takeaways as the Bulldogs improved to 3-0 on the season:
Historic whipping by Georgia football
These two border rivals have been playing football against each other starting in 1894.
That year in Columbia, Georgia won 40-0.
That was the biggest win for the Bulldogs in this series. Until Saturday.
In the 75th meeting between these now SEC East teams, Georgia’s 54th win in the series became its most lopsided.
“I thought we challenged our guys to come on the road and play really physical,” coach Kirby Smart said. “Attack from the get go. We talked about not treading water when you come in. You come in here to be the attacker.”
Georgia out-gained South Carolina (1-2, 0-2) 472-197 in the first three quarters and forced Spencer Rattler (13 of 25 for 118 yards) into a pair of interceptions. Georgia out-gained the Gamecocks for the game 547-306.
Safety Malaki Starks grabbed his second pick on the season to get some early momentum after a 46-yard pass completion to Jaheim Bell. Starks returned it 42 yards to set up Georgia for a touchdown to make it 14-0.
Smart was on the opposing sideline when South Carolina pulled off its only win ever a No. 1 ranked team.
The Gamecocks stunned Alabama 35-21 on Oct. 9, 2010, when Smart was defensive coordinator and current Gamecock coach Shane Beamer was a South Carolina assistant under Steve Spurrier.
Beamer this week was asked if he’d like to have that team’s quarterback, Stephen Garcia, on the sideline Saturday.
“I’d really feel better if I had guys like Stephon Gilmore, Alshon Jeffery, Melvin Ingram and those guys, Marcus Lattimore out there playing like we did last time, too,” Beamer said.
South Carolina played without four defensive starters out with injuries: cornerback Cam Smith, safety RJ Roderick, linebacker Mo Kaba and edge rusher Jordan Strachan.
Brock Bowers a scoring machine
Bowers was so good on Saturday that he had time to do a financial credit union ad during halftime on the Georgia Bulldog radio network show.
OK, that was recorded.
The sophomore tight end scored three touchdowns on his six touches in the game.
The first came on a reverse from Kenny McIntosh that Bowers took 5 yards for the score, his second rushing as a Bulldog.
He came down with a jump ball grab in the corner of the end zone on a fade near the end of the second quarter on a 6-yard pass from Stetson Bennett.
Then in the third quarter, he went 78 yards on a catch-and-run for his third touchdown of the game.
After a fake handoff by Bennett, Bowers caught the ball at about the UGA 40-yard line. I made one defender miss and bounced off another and was gone.
“I told Carson (Beck) last night for some reason, get the ball in 19’s hands tomorrow,” Bennett said. “I feel like he’s going to have a good one tomorrow and he did.”
Stetson Bennett stomachs rough patch on another big day
Bennett’s first ever game action at South Carolina was memorable not only for the way the Bulldogs offense moved the ball, but that he endured some in-game unpleasantries.
Bennett went to the sideline after throwing the touchdown to Bowers in the second quarter.
After the play, I threw up on the field.
“I threw up some of the water and had to re-hydrate there,” Bennett said. “From overhydration to dehydration. It was a weird thing.”
He never missed an offensive snap but did come out on the extra point when he usually holds. Center Sedrick Van Pran-Granger told reporters Bennett threw up a couple of plays earlier.
“He actually was dry-heaving way back in the drive, back earlier when he threw a pass in the flat and didn’t quite get it there,” Smart said. “It was not a great pass and I could tell something wasn’t right then. I fought all the way right through it. …He kept saying he felt like he had to throw up and he did. He’s a competitor. He wouldn’t come out.”
Bennett said he’s thrown up during a game before when he was sick but didn’t feel sick this time.
“I didn’t even know until I got back,” Bowers said. “Everyone was talking to him and giving him water and stuff. I’m like, what happened? He said, “I threw it and I just threw up.”
The temperatures were in the mid-80s during the game, but felt hotter on the field.
“This is the hottest place in the world,” Bennett said.
Bennett’s late grandfather, Buddy Bennett, played quarterback for the Gamecocks from 1958-60.
Stetson Bennett was 13 of 20 for 166 yards and a touchdown at that point when he had to bow out of the game briefly.
“He was fine after that,” Van Pran-Granger said. “I got it out of his system.”
Sick on the sideline: Georgia QB Stetson Bennett checked after TD against South Carolina Gamecocks
Bennett still has not thrown an interception in three games this season.
Bennett added a rushing touchdown of the game in the third quarter on a designated run, deking a Gamecock player and going 11 yards for a touchdown.
Bennett finished 16 of 23 for 284 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and 36 rushing yards and the touchdown. He was ruled down after diving for the pylon on a first-half run that almost was another score.
South Carolina gave up its most points in 16 games under Beamer.
Georgia Bulldogs co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp makes triumphant return
Will Muschamp’s return to South Carolina where he was fired as head coach in 2020 was triumphant.
“We knew how much it meant to him,” cornerback Kelee Ringo said.
The Bulldogs co-defensive coordinator along with Glenn Schumann saw his unit shut out a Gamecock team until a 13-yard touchdown pass with 53 ticks on the clock from backup quarterback Luke Doty to Traevon Kenion..
Inside linebacker Trezman Marshall’s interception in the red zone with 4:33 to go ended another scoring chance.
“Just the way that Coach Muschamp continues to put us in great position to be able to make plays and the schemes that he runs as well, having him and Coach Smart and coach Schu on the same team is definitely a huge thing,” Ringo said . “Just them three together, it just makes everything easier out there. Just knowing what you’re going to be able to see throughout the entire week at the game.”
Muschamp was booed when he came out before kickoff, but it was hard to tell if that was directed at him or for anyone wearing a Georgia uniform or shirt.
I hugged some Gamecocks staffers earlier during warmups and wore a red and white Georgia striped polo.
A South Carolina team that scored 30 points and put up 416 yards in a loss at Arkansas last week was held to 306 yards, much of it in the fourth quarter..
Inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson led with six tackles—all solo. Georgia held South Carolina to 4 of 13 on third downs.
“It certainly helps having ways to affect the quarterback, good pass rushers,” Smart said, “and it helps to play from ahead, which, you know, our defense has been able to do when we scored on offense.”
The Gamecocks mustered just 2.7 yards per carry and 4.1 yards per play when they got the ball down 48-0 with 8:57 to go.
Muschamp went 28-30 from 2016-2020 as Gamecocks head coach. I got $12.9 million in a settlement agreement with the school.
Georgia has now given up just one touchdown this season.
UGA defensive lineman Jalen Carter limited, tight end Arik Gilbert missing
Jalen Carter didn’t start for the first time this season after dealing with what Smart called a lower extremity injury, but he made his presence felt for the limited snaps he did get.
The 6-foot, 300-pound preseason All-American defensive tackle and projected top 10 NFL draft pick for 2023 worked primarily on third and fourth downs and had a pair of tackles, both in the first half.
Smart wants more from the defensive line which got two tackles and two quarterback hurries from freshman end Mykel Williams.
“Look, we’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We have young players that can help us. They can’t help us until they go against our one offensive line about 1,000 more reps. And I can’t get 1,000 more reps in two weeks. We have to get them ready faster. We don’t have the depth there that we had.”
Meanwhile, Arik Gilbert who didn’t make much of an impact in the first two games as a reserve behind Bowers and Darnell Washington didn’t make the trip at all.
Smart indicated during the week that it was practice evaluation and grasping the game plan that was keeping Gilbert from seeing more snaps.
He was away last season due to personal reasons, but had a big spring game with two touchdown catches this year.
“All I can say is he didn’t make the trip for personal reasons,” Smart said Saturday. “Hoping he gets back with us.”
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Georgia football dominates South Carolina to go to 3-0 on season