ATLANTA – Facing the nation’s No. 2 offense, the fourth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs fell, 37-10, to the second-ranked LSU Tigers in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game Saturday evening at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
With the loss, Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) fell to 3-5 all-time in the SEC Championship, including a 1-3 mark against LSU (13-0, 8-0 SEC).
The Bulldogs amassed 286 yards on offense, led by junior quarterback Jake Fromm, who went 20-for-42 with 225 yards and a touchdown. LSU continued its strong offensive season with 481 yards, including 349 from senior quarterback Joe Burrow.
On the opening drive, Georgia neared midfield thanks to an LSU facemask penalty on third down, but a pair of drops stalled the drive. The Tigers moved efficiently on their first possession, bolstered by a 24-yard run by Burrow, who snatched his deflected pass out of the air and ran into Bulldog territory. On the ensuing play, LSU struck first with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase, creating an early 7-0 advantage.
After both teams punted, Georgia crossed midfield for the first time as Fromm found freshman receiver Dominick Blaylock for an 11-yard reception on third down, but the Bulldogs came away empty as senior place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed from 52 yards out. LSU soon took advantage of the miss, with Burrow finding Terrace Marshall, Jr. for a 41-yard reception, and later, a 7-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs opened with their most successful drive of the game to date, as Fromm moved toward the red zone with a pair of long completions to senior receiver Tyler Simmons and junior wideout Demetris Robertson, but they would have to settle for a 39-yard field goal from Blankenship to cap a 10-play, 53-yard scoring drive.
Following LSU’s first 3-and-out of the day, Georgia looked to steal momentum, but Fromm was sacked and injured on a safety blitz by Grant Delpit, although he would return on the next possession. LSU once again moved efficiently via the passing game, but freshman linebacker Azeez Ojulari’s third-down tackle of Burrow forced the Tigers to kick a 41-yard field goal by Cade York, bringing the score to 17-3.
Returning from injury for a two-minute drill, Fromm led the Bulldogs to the LSU 40-yard line with two completions, but his ensuing pass was intercepted by Derek Stingley, Jr. at the 13-yard line with 1:39 remaining in the half. With LSU looking to expand its lead, the Georgia defense held strong at their own 30-yard line, forcing three straight Burrow incompletions and a missed 48-yard line field goal, keeping the score 17-3 at halftime.
LSU began the second half with a lengthy 16-play, 77-yard scoring drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock, culminating in a 28-yard field goal. As they did on the final drive of the previous half, the Georgia defense remained stout in the red zone, including a sack of Burrow by sophomore nose tackle Jordan Davis.
Georgia then embarked on a prolonged possession of their own, running 12 plays over four minutes, including an 18-yard reception by freshman receiver George Pickens on 4th-and-8 at the LSU 35-yard line. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the drive proved fruitless as a dropped pass in the end zone led to a missed 37-yard field goal by Blankenship.
Following the missed kick, LSU sealed the game with a pair of quick scores, spurred by a 71-yard pass from Burrow to Justin Jefferson on the first play of their drive. After a touchdown pass to Marshall made the score 27-3, Fromm was intercepted again by Stingley, Jr., allowing Burrow to find Jefferson for an 8-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, both teams added to their final tallies, with Fromm finding Pickens on a 2-yard pass for Georgia’s lone touchdown of the game, while York notched his fourth field goal, a 50-yard kick.
Georgia will now await its bowl game destination, which will be announced tomorrow afternoon.