Behind inspired play from a protection filled with NFL expertise, No. 5 Georgia smothered No. 2 Clemson and won 10-3 in an early barometer for how the bustle for the School Soccer Playoff and nationwide championship could maybe unfold across the following four months.
The Bulldogs held Clemson to correct 180 yards of offense, the Tigers’ lowest output in a game since gaining 188 yards against Alabama in the 2018 Sugar Bowl. Easiest three instances in the previous three seasons had Clemson been held beneath 400 yards of offense. Georgia’s protection allowed correct two yards rushing on 23 attempts.
The Tigers also had been held scoreless in the first half of for the first time since North Carolina Convey did so in 2010, a span of 143 games. Including last year’s loss to Ohio Convey in the nationwide semifinals, Clemson has dropped two straight for the first time since 2011.
Saturday marked the debut of 2d-year player DJ Uiagalelei as the Tigers’ tubby-time starting quarterback, a job he inherited from three-year starter Trevor Lawrence, who turned into at the game. Uiagalelei finished with 18 completions in 37 attempts for 178 yards and an interception.
At no point did Clemson’s offensive indicate itself as a lot as the inconvenience of handling Georgia’s protection, which is strongest alongside the entrance seven and will very successfully be the nation’s finest.
Georgia’s offense didn’t fare noteworthy greater. The Bulldogs finished with 256 yards on 4.2 yards per play, led by quarterback JT Daniels’ 135 yards passing. The protection contributed the game’s handiest landing: Georgia defensive attend Christopher Smith returned an interception 74 yards with three minutes remaining in the first half of, outracing Uiagalelei into the finish zone.
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In an period when the sincere groups in college soccer contain embraced a tubby turn toward broad-delivery offensive methods, Saturday’s low-scoring affair reflected how each and every groups contain defenses in a position to throwing a wrench into even the sincere game plans.
Then again, the direct of Georgia’s offense is known as a talking point in and out of the SEC, especially given how Alabama didn’t circulate over a beat in its opener against Miami (Fla.) despite breaking in new contributors at quarterback, running attend and receiver.
The 65th meeting between the Tigers and Bulldogs turned into a excessive-water point in a chain that dates to 1897. Easiest five instances earlier than Saturday had the groups met with each and every ranked in the USA TODAY Sports actions AFCA Coaches Ballot, and by no methodology earlier than had each and every Clemson and Georgia been ranked inside the end five.
From here, the interrogate turns to how Saturday’s consequence impacts the playoff bustle, and namely how the preference committee could maybe look this victory in slack November and early December.
On one hand, a loss would no longer eliminate Clemson from the playoff image; the Tigers’ direction into the end four handiest requires a dapper flee by convention play and an ACC championship. Clemson has reached the playoff in every of the previous six seasons.
However for Georgia, this win makes a favorable assertion concerning the the Bulldogs’ capability to unimaginative down Alabama’s potent offense and claim the nationwide championship.
Train colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg