BATON ROUGE, La. — The Georgia Bulldogs threw two interceptions, botched a fake field-goal attempt, busted coverage defensively on a 50-yard reception and fumbled away a kickoff return Saturday afternoon during a 36-16 loss to LSU.
Yet those plays paled to the bigger picture as Georgia's undefeated season came to a screeching halt before a sellout crowd of 102,321 at Tiger Stadium.
"They played better than us today," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. "They played more physical than we did. They attacked us, and they created turnovers. We didn't do that. You can look at a lot of things, and I'm perfectly OK with that, because we're going to look at a lot of things in how we can get better. At the end of the day, if you don't win the line of scrimmage in this league, you will not win the football game."
LSU racked up 475 yards on Georgia, which entered Saturday as the top defense in the Southeastern Conference, having yielded an average of just 283.2 yards per game. The Tigers collected 145 yards on 19 carries from sophomore running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 66 yards on 13 by junior quarterback Joe Burrow and 64 yards on 16 by senior tailback Nick Brossette.
Burrow also completed 15 of 30 passes for 200 yards as LSU won its 21st consecutive October contest and notched its biggest triumph of the Ed Orgeron coaching era.
"This is a tremendous win for our football team," Orgeron said. "We were plus-four in turnover ratio. We were 4-for-4 on fourth downs and held them to 113 yards rushing, and that's a very, very good football team. It's a credit to our players, because they were not happy with the results of the Florida game (a 27-19 loss a week earlier).
"Obviously we used that as motivation all week."
The win by the No. 13 Tigers (6-1, 3-1) over the No. 2 Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1) represented just the third loss for Georgia in its past 23 games. Yet it also marked a third consecutive season in which the Bulldogs have been blown out on the road by an SEC West program, having lost 40-17 at Auburn last November and having fallen 45-14 at Ole Miss in 2016.
"This is very similar to last year, though we probably played better leading up to our loss last year," Smart said. "I don't think we've played as well this year, but we lost to a team on the West on the road. Everything is still in front of us.
"What are we going to do from here? They define you by how you respond. We've got a lot to get better at, and I've been saying that for three weeks."
The Bulldogs entered Saturday averaging 485.2 yards per game offensively but were held to 322. Running backs D'Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield combined for 128 yards on only 19 carries, but sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm completed just 16 of 34 passes for 209 yards and was intercepted twice.
Fromm had consecutive completions of 35 and 27 yards to Riley Ridley in the fourth quarter, with the 27-yarder resulting in a touchdown that briefly pulled the Bulldogs within 29-16 with six minutes to play.
"They were good on defense," Fromm said. "They made the plays kind of when we didn't."
Holyfield's 10-yard touchdown run with seven seconds left in the third quarter got Georgia within 19-9, and the Bulldogs opened the fourth quarter with a defensive three-and-out and a 27-yard Mecole Hardman punt return to LSU's 38. On third-and-6 from the 34, however, Fromm was sacked for a 9-yard loss by JaCoby Stevens.
"That was not good," Fromm said. "We were in field-goal range, and the game was still a two-score game. That was really bad on my part. I should have definitely gotten the ball out of my hands."
LSU struck first on a 33-yard field goal by Cole Tracy that gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead at the 9:32 mark of the opening quarter, capping a nine-play, 65-yard drive. The Bulldogs responded with nine consecutive running plays that moved the ball from their own 15-yard line to LSU's 14, but they stalled and came away empty when a fake field-goal attempt resulted in Rodrigo Blankenship getting stuffed by Grant Delpit, who caused a fumble that Devin White recovered at the 16.
The Tigers ended the first quarter with an Edwards-Helaire 47-yard run down the middle of the field to the Georgia 7, and they opened the second quarter with Burrow sneaking over on fourth down from a yard out for a 10-0 lead. After a Georgia three-and-out, LSU struck again when Justin Jefferson was uncovered down the right sideline, resulting in a 50-yard reception from Burrow that set up a 36-yard field goal by Tracy that made it 13-0.
"I really won't know what happened until I look at the film, but it looked like a busted coverage," Georgia sophomore safety Richard LeCounte said.
LSU extended its lead to 16-0 on a 39-yard Tracy field goal with 5:09 before halftime, which culminated a 15-play, 50-yard drive that included two fourth-down conversions.
The Tigers held a 251-99 advantage in total yards late in the first half.
Georgia is off this Saturday before facing Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 27, while LSU will stay at home this week to host Mississippi State.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.