Bennett, No. 1 Georgia’s defense steamrolls South Carolina 48-7

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Georgia at South Carolina
Getty Images
0 Comments

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Georgia coach Kirby Smart and his No. 1 Bulldogs are sending messages to anyone who thought they were going to drop off after a national championship.

The latest statement came Saturday in a 48-7 victory over South Carolina (1-2, 0-2) in their Southeastern Conference opener, where the Gamecocks needed a touchdown with 53 seconds to go to avoid becoming the fifth shutout victim of the Bulldogs (3-0) in their past 14 games.

Meanwhile, the Georgia offense gained 547 yards, scoring on eight of its first nine possessions and was averaging nearly 10 yards a play before the backups came in and took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter.

Even though 15 players left for the NFL after winning Georgia’s first national title since 1980, there still is still plenty of talent and an attitude that winning a championship leaves behind, coach Kirby Smart said.

“That was a very special group. That’s going to linger in our building,” Kirby said. “Not the championship, but the way they practiced, the way they carried themselves.”

Stetson Bennett went 16 for 23 for 284 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score. Just like the Bulldogs’ 49-3 victory over Oregon and 33-0 win over Samford, Bennett didn’t take a snap in the fourth quarter. He reminded his teammates that it won’t stay this easy.

“We’re going to have to play a four-quarter game at some point. We’re going to have to stay in shape,” Bennett said. “This isn’t going to happen every week.”

Tight end Brock Bowers had five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score. Georgia let 10 players carry the ball, rushing for 212 yards.

The Bulldogs’ defensive line overwhelmed South Carolina’s front. A defender was in quarterback Spencer Rattler‘s face almost every time he dropped back more than three steps. The Oklahoma transfer got off just three deep balls, with two of them intercepted. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter and was 13 of 25 for 118 yards.

“I obviously did a horse-crap job of getting our team ready to play today regardless of how many guys we had out,” said South Carolina coach Shane Beamer, who was missing six defensive players. “I don’t even want to hear it. We had a good enough team to go out there and compete.”

The 41-point victory was Georgia’s biggest against the Gamecocks in their 75 meetings. It was South Carolina’s worst loss since a 56-6 defeat to Florida in 2008.

SHUTOUT SO CLOSE

That touchdown that ruined the shutout still stung, especially after Trezman Martin intercepted a fourth quarter-pass at the Georgia 9 that appeared to snuff out the Gamecocks’ last chance with 4:33 to go.

Linebacker Nolan Smith said there is no garbage time for the Georgia defense, which allowed an offensive touchdown for the first time in the last five regular-season games.

“If you are on the field, you are a starter,” Smith said. “That’s our body of work. That’s our entire defense.”

BENNETT BARFS

After throwing a touchdown to Bowers in the second quarter, Bennett threw up on the field as his teammates celebrated in the end zone. He said he was dry heaving during the drive but stayed in. Smart said he thinks Bennett was nervous about the heat and drank too much water.

Bennett didn’t miss a play.

“It hit me all of a sudden,” he said, smiling. “I ate a lot of grapes. Maybe I had a bad grape.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Georgia: Struggles against teams like South Carolina used to define the Bulldogs. At one point when Steve Spurrier was Gamecocks coach in the early 2010s, South Carolina won four of five in the series. But after Saturday, Georgia has won 15 of its last 16 over SEC East teams.

South Carolina: Beamer appears to be breathing life into a program that had lost 13 of its last 16 when he took over in 2021, but there is still a big gap to the best. In his second season, Beamer is 0-4 against Top 25 teams, losing by an average of nearly 24 points.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Beating an SEC opponent by 41 points should be enough to keep the Bulldogs at No. 1.

UP NEXT

Georgia: The Bulldogs have one more nonconference tuneup, this time against Kent State, before playing seven SEC games.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks dip out of the SEC for a home game next Saturday against Charlotte.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.