ATHENS, Ga. - The game began with a 47-yard Malcolm Mitchell kickoff return. It was that kind of big-play day for the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday at Sanford Stadium, and it was that kind of long afternoon for Georgia Tech.
Georgia wrapped its regular season with a dominating 42-10 win over its rival from Atlanta, claiming the Governor's Cup for the 11th time in 12 years. More importantly, the Bulldogs (11-1) are one win away from playing for a national championship.
That win has to come this Saturday in Atlanta against No. 2 Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game. While presenting Georgia coach Mark Richt with the Governor's Cup, Gov. Nathan Deal said: "Keep up the good work. We're looking for a national championship."
Georgia's players and coaches mostly kept mum last week on the subject of playing Alabama and all that game will mean. After thumping Tech (6-6), the Bulldogs were ready to look ahead.
"We know what lies ahead. We've got a huge game in front of us, and we're going to try to take care of that game," said receiver Taverres King, one of 21 seniors who played their final game between the hedges. "It's huge. It's what you come here for."
Georgia Tech will be playing this Saturday as well, against No. 10 Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Charlotte, N.C. The Yellow Jackets will be coming off a loss in which they had the ball for 39 minutes, 56 seconds, and gained 426 yards -- 47 more than Georgia. But they never were in the game after the middle of the first quarter.
Tech's touchdown came on a 9-yard David Sims run with 7:25 to play in the game.
"We had people talking to us all week about trying to look ahead and all that. ... I didn't see any signs of that," Richt said. "I certainly never had a moment where I was thinking ahead. I just know that's so dangerous. I've coached long enough to where I can't even let myself do that."
Georgia scored on its first three possessions, all of which were executed almost flawlessly. The first drive, after Mitchell's return, lasted four plays and ended with a 3-yard Todd Gurley run. The second quickly covered eight plays and ended with a 1-yard Gurley run.
One of the Bulldogs' big plays gave Georgia the ball for its second touchdown. Down 7-0, Georgia Tech was moving the ball. In fact, Robert Godhigh was fighting to get to the goal line on a 19-yard run when safety Bacarri Rambo stripped the ball loose at the 1 and returned the fumble 49 yards to the 50.
"I didn't even know he was at the 1. I was just trying to get the ball out," said Rambo, who later tied Jake Scott's school record with his 16th career interception.
A 57-yard Aaron Murray pass to Mitchell on the final play of the first quarter set up Georgia for its third score, a 15-yard Keith Marshall run that made it 21-3. The rout was on the rest of the way.
Murray, who sat out the fourth quarter, finished 14-for-17 for 215 yards and two touchdowns, while Gurley and Marshall each ran for two TDs, Gurley gaining 97 yards on 12 carries and Marshall totaling 66 on seven.