The No. 11 Oregon Ducks were clobbered by the reigning national champion No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs 49-3 in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Saturday.
A day that was supposed full of excitement for the Oregon program, full of debuts in both the player roster and the coaching staff, quickly devolved into a blowout at the hands of Kirby Smart’s Georgia.
The Ducks started out with the ball after the Bulldogs deferred, and picked up a pair of first downs thanks to a pass and a run from Bo Nix. But the Ducks punted shortly after, and that’s when the trouble started.
The Georgia offense never seemed to miss a beat all day long, and that’s due in large part to quarterback Stetson Bennett. Bennett, fresh off of having the third-highest QBR in college football last season, finished the first drive going six-for-eight on pass attempts.
A bit of trickery from Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken in the red zone led to Ladd McConkey running the ball in for six. McConkey also caught a touchdown pass from Bennett just before the end of the first half, finishing the game with 73 all-purpose yards and two trips to the end zone.
While Bennett and Georgia’s offense couldn’t seem to be stopped, Nix and the Oregon offense couldn’t seem to get started.
On the second Ducks’ offensive drive of the day, while it seemed like the run game was picking up some momentum, Nix took a deep shot looking for Seven McGee. But Malaki Starks made an amazing play on the ball and grabbed the interception.
The next offensive drive for Oregon garnered the same result. This time, Nix was looking for tight end Patrick Herbert on the check down and Georgia cornerback Christopher Smith was all over it.
The Ducks would end up putting some points on the board in the second quarter after a penalty called on Georgia while tackling running back Noah Whittington put the Ducks’ offense in the best field position of the day. But the Georgia defense held strong at the goal line, and forced kicker Camden Lewis to score a field goal from 35 yards out.
But Lewis’ kick was just after two Georgia rushing touchdowns from Bennett and Kenny McIntosh, and just before the second McKonkley score of the day.
Oregon entered the locker room at halftime worlds away from Georgia, trailing 28-3 after thirty minutes of football.
In their past three games of the Pac-12 Championship, the Valero Alamo Bowl, and the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, the Oregon Ducks have been outscored in the first half by a combined score of 81-6. The Georgia Bulldogs contributed nearly one third of those points on Saturday.
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Whatever Coach Dan Lanning said to his troops at halftime didn’t seem to have much effect. The Ducks continued to look lifeless compared to the Bulldogs. Simple tackles and coverages were being missed by the defense, while the Georgia offense could do no wrong.
Oregon would go on to punt four times throughout the game. Georgia punted just one time.
Bennett would pick up another passing touchdown in the third quarter throwing to Adonai Mitchell, before Coach Smart decided his starter’s day was over.
After just over a half of game played, Bennett’s numbers against Oregon are ripped out of the latest Madden game. 25-for-31 passing for 368 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions — good for a ridiculous quarterback rating of 201.7.
Carson Beck would replace Bennett, throwing for 71 yards and a touchdown with only one incompletion.
Nix stayed in the game through the end– something that may not be likely against Eastern Washington next week after his performance. Nix ended with 173 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions on 21-for-37 passing (57% completion).
The Ducks had a chance late to at least score one touchdown. But Nix and the offense suffered a crucial delay of game penalty and turned the ball over on downs on the Georgia two-yard line.
The Bulldogs were more than ready to end the game after that, running out the clock until the game finally ended with a final score of 49-3 Georgia.
Dan Lanning and the Ducks will look to get back on track next weekend against Eastern Washington at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.
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