Bulldogs blow out Arkansas for second straight shutout

AP photo by John Bazemore / Georgia running back Zamir White gets past Arkansas defensive back Jalen Catalon (1) to score a touchdown during the first half of Saturday's SEC game in Athens, Ga. White ran for two touchdowns and recovered a blocked punt for another as the Bulldogs won 37-0, winning back-to-back SEC games by shutout for the first time since 1980.

ATHENS, Ga. - Saturday's meeting of Southeastern Conference football teams with top-10 national rankings at Sanford Stadium seemed to promise the possibility of a close battle for four quarters.

It turned into a statement game for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Zamir White rushed for two touchdowns and recovered a blocked punt for another score, and No. 2 Georgia pounded No. 8 Arkansas 37-0 in the Bulldogs' second consecutive shutout.

Georgia (5-0, 3-0) raced to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter despite playing without regular starting quarterback JT Daniels, who was held out with an upper-body muscle injury. Stetson Bennett filled in for Daniels and passed for only 72 yards as the hosts relied on their running game and top-rated defense to beat Arkansas (4-1, 1-1).

With ESPN televising the midday matchup and bringing its "College GameDay" program to town, Georgia took advantage of the chance to showcase the dominance that has marked its undefeated start. The Bulldogs, though, were already well aware of their capabilities.

"I think we know how good we are," Bennett said. "I think we know what it takes to be that good every week."

Georgia, leading the nation in total defense and scoring defense already after last weekend's 62-0 win at Vanderbilt, held Arkansas to 10 first downs and 156 yards. The last time Georgia had recorded back-to-back shutouts in SEC games was in 1980, its most recent national championship season.

Coach Kirby Smart said he understood the significance of the consecutive conference shutouts.

"It's 1980 rare," Smart said.

It was a sobering experience for Arkansas second-year coach Sam Pittman, the former Georgia offensive line coach who had led the Razorbacks to a surprising undefeated start that included victories against Texas, ranked 15th at the time, and Texas A&M, which was seventh.

"I don't want to simplify this, but they just whipped us physically," Pittman said. "We couldn't block them and we couldn't get off blocks for much of the day."

photo AP photo by John Bazemore / Arkansas punter Reid Bauer, left, has his punt blocked by Georgia's Dan Jackson during the first half of Saturday's SEC game in Athens, Ga. Georgia's Zamir White recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

The Bulldogs rushed for 273 yards while continuing their committee approach at running back. James Cook had 87 yards on 12 carries, Kenny McIntosh added 57 yards and Kendall Milton ran for 48, including a 1-yard touchdown. White, who scored on runs of 3 and 15 yards, finished with 68 yards on 16 carries.

Georgia stuck to the ground as Arkansas aligned its defense with extra backs.

"They were basically challenging us could we run the ball," Bennett said. "They said we couldn't, but we said we could today."

Georgia stretched its lead to 21-0 when Dan Jackson blocked Reid Bauer's punt and White fell on the ball in the end zone with 2:17 left in the first quarter.

"Zamir is just incredible," Smart said, adding White "takes so much pride" in his special teams play that he stays after practice for extra work on the punt block team.

Daniels was in uniform despite his lat injury, but he missed a game for the second time this season after testing his fitness in pregame warmups. An oblique injury kept Daniels out of the Bulldogs' 56-7 home win over the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Sept. 11.

Smart said before the game that Daniels' status was based on the pregame work. After the game, there seemed to be less certainty the junior was close to playing.

"We think we're going to be able to get him back, but we don't know when," Smart said, adding "JT is frustrated. He wants to play quarterback, and he doesn't get to when he has an injury."

Arkansas also had quarterback questions after KJ Jefferson missed most of the second half of last weekend's win against Texas A&M with a bruised left knee. Jefferson returned for the final drive against the Aggies, though, and had the knee wrapped while starting against Georgia.

He was 8-of-13 passing for 65 yards against the Bulldogs before Malik Hornsby took over at quarterback in the final quarter.

Jack Podlesny kicked field goals of 46, 30 and 37 yards, with the first providing the final points of the second quarter as Georgia went to halftime ahead 24-0.

Cam Little was wide right from 37 yards in the second quarter for the Razorbacks, who hurt themselves with 13 penalties for 100 yards in the game, including two false starts before their offense could run a play. Pressure caused by Georgia's defense and the crowd noise, especially at the start of the game, was overwhelming.

The Bulldogs showed impressive depth as Bennett managed the game, completing a few early passes and then leaning heavily on the Bulldogs' long list of running backs. The defense, meanwhile, flourished while frustrating Jefferson and smothering the Razorbacks' ground game. That unit showed it deserves its top ranking, making the team look like a serious contender for the same honor.

The Razorbacks recovered on defense after Georgia's big first quarter, allowing only two field goals in the next two quarters. It was too late to save Arkansas, which has another road game next Saturday against Ole Miss.

Linebacker Grant Morgan said the Razorbacks would recover from the lopsided loss.

"That's what good football teams do, and we're a good football team," Morgan said.

Georgia plays next Saturday at Auburn. The Bulldogs have won the past four meetings in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, including 27-6 last season in Athens.