I'm still more psyched for the impending start of the NFL season than I am for college football, but man, Georgia looked good in their win over Clemson on Saturday.
The first half looked like one of those games that was all-too-common last year (especially against ranked opponents), where it became a basketball-like contest of trading touchdowns throughout the game and just hoping you ended up with the last one (the score was tied 21-12 after two quarters). But in the second half, both the offense (thanks in no small part to a much heavier use of star running back Todd Gurley) and the defense kicked it into another gear: the Bulldogs ended up scoring another 24 points while holding the Tigers scoreless.
When they exited the first half tied with Gurley only having four or five touches despite a strong showing every time he got his hands on the ball, I started to question the strategy, but it became all too clear in the second half that Mark Richt was playing the long game with a position where the team is very deep, and they were saving their biggest weapon for a time when the Clemson defense was exhausted and most vulnerable to his power.
Gurley scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter on long runs (18 and 51 yards), and you got the sense that it only because of Richt's mercy towards an opponent that was already thoroughly beaten that Gurley didn't tack on another one at the very end of the game. He ended up with four touchdowns and 293 all-purpose yards when it was all said and done, and for most players that would be the game of their career. But I have a feeling we're going to see other performances this year from Gurley and this team that will outshine even this game.
It was a decisive, masterful victory over a tough opponent that was ranked only slightly lower than UGA, and it wasn't a surprise to me to see them move up in the Bleacher Report rankings (the only ones that have been released since the first week of games have been played) from 12th to 6th, which should be a harbinger of what to expect from the more established polls when they are released later this week.