Georgia Bulldogs starting quarterback Stetson Bennett was almost flawless as he led the defending national champions to a commanding 49-3 win against the Oregon Ducks.
Bennett finished 25-31 with a career high 368 passing and three total touchdowns (two passing and one rushing). The Georgia offense torched the Oregon defense en route to the largest margin of victory in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game.
The Bulldogs offense converted nine out of nine third downs before Coach Smart pulled the starters from the game in the fourth quarter. They finished the game 9-10 on third down conversions in the game. Bennett felt this was his best game played yet and liked how they kept moving the chains.
“It’s probably the best one I’ve played,” Bennett said. “I’m most proud of the third downs. That’s what we were harping on, third downs and red zone this whole offseason and we executed.”
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart liked the way his team embraced the mentality of being the hunter not the hunted in this game.
“I’m really proud of the way our kids played,” he said. “We talked about coming out and playing as if we were hunting and we wanted to play connected football. That’s all we talked about all week. We’re going to play connected, aggressive and be a hunter.”
Senior running back Kenny McIntosh got his first start in today’s game and finished with a career high nine receptions for 117 yards. McIntosh is happy he got his time to shine as a starter today and credits being in the offense and learning from former players like D’Andre Swift.
“I’ve been waiting a long time,” McIntosh said. “I [saw] how it was supposed to look. I thought I had great examples [with] great running backs in front of me like D’Andre Smith.”
McIntosh also finished rushing with five carries for 18 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, backup running back Kendall Milton led all backs with 50 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Conversely, Oregon head coach Dan Lanning faced his former boss for the first time. Also, Lanning recruited most of the players on the Georgia defense.
“Tough game, obviously, credit to Georgia,” Lanning said. “They did a phenomenal job preparing their team for us. They out-coached us. They out-played us today. They did a really good job. That being said, I think our players, that locker room, is hurting a little bit, but they’re ready for an opportunity to grow, anxious to get back on the practice field. Certainly a lot of things that we can clean up and fix.”
Oregon quarterback, Bo Nix, went 21-of-37 for 172 yards and threw two interceptions. Lanning, who remained quiet regarding his quarterback competition, continued to have confidence in his quarterback.
“Bo is a leader. I think if you go back and look at our offense, they really moved the ball well. We didn’t cap off our drives,” Lanning explained. “Obviously, the turnovers is something we don’t want to have, but we moved the ball down the field at times. We just didn’t finish drives. You get down to the red area, you have to go score touchdowns, not kick for field goals.
We had a couple of chances down there that we didn’t capitalize. Bo is going to go evaluate himself. We have other quarterbacks on our team that obviously can compete as well, but Bo is our quarterback. Bo did a good job today of handling some adverse situations, but he is also going to figure out how he can improve, just like we can as a staff.”
Georgia is now 99-27-3 overall in season openers, including a 2-1 mark in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games. The Bulldogs have won their last nine season-openers dating back to 2014. Meanwhile, the Ducks fall to a 90-33-4 record all-time in season openers, but have still won nine of their last 11 contests to open the season.
The Bulldogs will face Samford at home next Saturday at 4pm.