Georgia vs. Auburn score, takeaways: No. 3 Dawgs throttle No. 7 Tigers as Stetson Bennett proves good enough
Bennett is a more-than-capable starting quarterback for a Georgia team led by a ferocious defense
No. 4 Georgia throttled No. 7 Auburn in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry on Saturday night in Athens, Georgia. Stetson Bennett IV got the start at quarterback for the Bulldogs and was sharp, going 17 of 28 for 240 yards and one touchdown in the dominant 27-6 victory. The ex-walk on, who returned to Georgia after a stint in junior college, got the start over opening-day starter D'Wan Mathis and ex-USC signal caller JT Daniels, who was cleared this week after suffering a knee injury in September 2019.
Bennett led scoring drives of 43, 59, 84 and 72 yards for the Bulldogs. His favorite target was Kearis Jackson, who finished with nine catches for 147 yards. The two hooked up for a 16-yard completion on third-and-10 to get Georgia to Auburn's 15-yard line to set up Georgia's-first score -- a 1-yard plunge from Zamir White.
From there, it was all Bulldogs. Bennett found George Pickens down the sideline on a perfectly-placed pass for a 21-yard score to push the lead to 17-0 in the second quarter. White plunged in from one yard out midway through the second quarter to make the score 24-0. White was Georgia's leading rusher with 19 carries for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
Auburn's offense had a hard time protecting starting quarterback Bo Nix, who finished 21 of 40 for 177 yards with an interception. Nix was sacked three times but pressured all night as the Tigers offense was held without a touchdown and reduced to just 39 yards rushing.
Here are the biggest takeaways of Georgia's huge win between the hedges.
1. Stetson Bennett IV is more than capable
I'll be the first to admit it: I was wrong about Georgia's offense under Bennett. I thought that he would struggle under pressure, Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele would have success bringing the heat in a variety of ways and force the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder into numerous mistakes. The exact opposite happened.
It was clear that Bennett was in control in the first quarter when he rolled to his left and found Jackson on that 17-yarder on third-and-10. Bennett, a former walk-on who left Georgia to go to Jones County (Mississippi) Community College before returning the Bulldogs in 2019, has enough in his repertoire to keep the offensive moving and not make game-changing mistakes. That's enough for a Georgia team that has one of the best defenses in the nation.
This team doesn't necessarily have to have a top-tier offense. Sure, it'd help. After all, defense doesn't win championships anymore. "Just enough" defense does. But Bennett showed on Saturday night that he can be a difference-maker in a top 10 matchup and then put it in cruise control. There's a word for that … "foundation." Bennett set that foundation against the Tigers.
2. The Dawgs' offensive line has come of age
They say that a team improves the most between the first and second week of the season. That obviously applies to Georgia's offensive line. The unit, with four new starters, was completely in control of the new-look Auburn defensive front from the moment toe met leather. Try these numbers on for size: 45 rushes for 202 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Those were Georgia's stats. Perhaps more important is the number 1 -- as in, how many times Bennett was sacked. Georgia's offensive line looked like it not only fixed its problems but is ready to assert itself as the best unit in the country. If it's going to be Bennett under center, and Georgia is going to continue to be a run-based offense that works off play-action, the development of the offensive line is the most important takeaway of the night -- and it isn't even close.
3. Auburn's offense is a mess
Remember when offensive coordinator Chad Morris was supposed to be the savior of a Tigers offense that had become as predictable as the sunrise when coach Gus Malzahn called the plays? Yeah, that was a pipe dream. Auburn's offensive line was a sieve on Saturday, which left Nix running for his life all night long. As a result, Morris couldn't (or wouldn't) make adjustments to try to do anything to keep the chains moving.
That recipe made sense when Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson were monsters along the Auburn defensive line -- even if it didn't work all of the time. It won't work now. Malzahn and Morris -- two coaches who made their marks in the college football world as innovative offensive minds -- looked out of their league on Saturday. It's a recurring theme for an Auburn program that looks to be regressing.
Georgia doubled Auburn's offensive output 442-216, ran 11 more plays and netted 163 more yards on the ground (202-39). The Tigers are not going to be able to compete with any talented team positing stats like that.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest from Auburn at Georgia on Saturday night. Keep on reading for analysis and highlights from the game.
What is Tank Bigsby doing? Gotta get to the sticks.
Auburn's defense bends but doesn't break as it holds Georgia to a FG. The Dawgs used up 4:18 on the clock, which is probably more important than the score. The Tigers need to find Seth Williams early and often
Auburn settled for three. That is a net win for Georgia. The Bulldogs' offense can basically go into Red Beauilloux mode and take a knee three times and punt in order to win.
Sent from my sister-in-law. That mask is not CDC-approved.
Big loss for Georgia in Richard LeCounte. Legit targeting. But he's a big part of the run defense.
Georgia's offensive line is building a Butch Jones-level brick wall in front of Bennett. This is incredible.