Georgia vs. South Carolina score: Bulldogs rout Gamecocks to make a statement in SEC East
Jake Fromm also asserted himself as the clear QB 1 for Kirby Smart at Georgia
No. 3 Georgia steamrolled No. 24 South Carolina 41-17 in Columbia on Saturday afternoon in the first big conference game of the SEC season. The win for Georgia confirms that, at least early in the season, the road to the SEC Championship Game in the SEC East will go directly through Athens.
What are the biggest takeaways from the Bulldogs beat down of the Gamecocks?
1. Georgia, the machine: Any thoughts of Georgia taking a step back after last season's appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship should be put to rest after annihilating the Gamecocks on their turf. Jake Fromm and Co. went into enemy territory against their primary threat in the SEC East and controlled it from the outset.
That's exactly what elite football teams do. Instead of preparing for the fight, Goliath ends the fight before David even gets out of the corner.
Fromm went 15-of-18 for 194 yards, wide receiver Mecole Hardman -- one of the stars of last season's national title game -- had 103 yards and a touchdown and running backs D'Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien each found the end zone.
This is what coach Kirby Smart set out to build when he got the job prior to the 2016. This is the sleeping giant the college football world feared. This is a team with staying power that takes the fight to any and all comers.
South Carolina was just the latest victim.
2. There is no quarterback controversy in Athens: All eyes were on true freshman quarterback Justin Fields this offseason after the blue chip dual-threat star enrolled at Georgia with the goal of pushing Fromm.
Fromm put an end to that talk Saturday against a well-coached defense that is loaded with veterans and should be a tough test for everybody else on the schedule. Fields didn't come in as a package quarterback, he didn't come in when Fromm looked a bit rattled early after pressure forced him to throw a pick and he didn't come in at any point until the game was out of hand.
Smart won't say it because he wants the culture of competition he built to remain in place throughout the regular season. But he made it known that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is Fromm's team.
So what happens to Fields, now? He's used two of the allotted four games he can play before burning his redshirt. Smart has maintained all offseason that a redshirt for Fields isn't in the plan. We have two more games to find out.
3. South Carolina isn't a pushover: Don't let the final score fool you -- the Gamecocks are a tough out and people outside the SEC footprint who aren't familiar with what Will Muschamp has done in two-plus seasons in Columbia should know that. The offense has evolved into a tempo-based power attack that thrives in balance. Quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 269 yards against the stout Bulldogs defense and wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards each found ways to impact the scoreboard.
The SEC East is likely out of reach for the Gamecocks, thanks to the early one-game hole and head-to-head loss to the division favorite. But the future still looks bright. The experienced roster and success they enjoyed last year when they won nine games will help the program get back to the level it was when Jadeveon Clowney roamed the sidelines.
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