BATON ROUGE, La. – The second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs faltered in Death Valley, suffering a 36-16 upset loss to No. 12 LSU in front of a crowd of 102,321 at Tiger Stadium.
Georgia forced a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, but the momentum didn’t matriculate to the rest of the half or game. Despite the Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) pulling the game within 10 points at the end of the third quarter, the Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC) did not relinquish control as they sealed the game with 17 fourth quarter points. It marks Georgia’s first 20-point loss since losing at Auburn last season, 40-17.
“We didn’t play our best game,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “You have to give LSU credit. They are a great football team. We didn’t do well against their hurry up offense, which caused us to not be able to play as many guys as we norally do. They did a great job of mixing up their play calls with run and pass. Offensively, we had a drought and they capitalized. We didn’t come out physical today. We just have to execute better and get better overall.”
Defensively, Georgia gave up a season-high 475 total yards and 36 points, however the Bulldogs forced five LSU field goals inside the Georgia 25-yard line and were on the field for a season-high 33 minutes and 41 seconds. Freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell had a team-high and career-high 11 tackles, while senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter tallied 10 tackles – also a career high.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm went 16-of-34 for 209 passing yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Riley Ridley led the receiving group with three catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, which came late in the fourth quarter. On the ground, D’Andre Swift picked up a team-high 72 yards on a dozen attempts, while Elijah Holyfield added 56 yards on seven carries and touchdown.
Georgia trailed 16-0 at the half, putting the Bulldogs in the hole that they didn’t overcome. The Bulldogs’ most successful first half drive came on its second possession, which spanned 12 plays for 59 yards – all on the ground – however a failed fake field goal attempt halted the Bulldogs. At the half, Fromm was 5 for 16 for just 47 passing yards, while most of the production occurred on the ground with Swift tallying 47 yards on seven carries and Holyfield mustering 33 yards on five attempts.
The Bulldogs took the opening possession of the third quarter 52 yards on 12 plays, setting up a 40-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal to make it 16-3. After a Fromm interception that gave the Tigers a short field, the Bulldogs defense held LSU to its fourth field goal inside Georgia’s 25-yard line.
Holyfield finished off a seven-play 75-yard drive on the ensuing possession with a 10-yard touchdown run to make it a 19-9 game with the failed two-point try. Two plays earlier on a 3rd-and-6, a scrambling Fromm found Swift for an eight-yard pickup. Holyfield followed that up with a 13-yard run that was aided by a pushing offensive line, which set up the touchdown on the next play.
After each team traded punts to start the fourth quarter, LSU capitalized with a touchdown to move ahead 26-9. The Tigers tacked on another field goal off a Georgia special teams turnover, which put LSU well ahead and able to control the clock until the final whistle.
With today’s 36-16 loss to #12 LSU, the Tigers take a 17-13-1 edge in the series history that dates back to 1928. This was the 11thmeeting where both teams were ranked in the top 25 and LSU now leads that 6-5.
Georgia has its open date next weekend before traveling to the annual neutral site game against the Florida Gators in Jacksonville, Florida on Oct. 27 at 3:30 p.m.