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Sep 20, 2022 2:09 pm

No. 1 Georgia catapults into meeting with Kent State

There has been no discernable drop off for the Georgia Bulldogs from their full sprint to the national title last season.

The top-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) have outscored their first three opponents by a combined 130-10 and were the last Football Bowl Subdivision team to allow a touchdown when South Carolina punched it in Saturday to avoid a 48-zilch shutout.

Georgia will look to continue its roll when it hosts Kent State (1-2) on Saturday afternoon in Athens, Ga.

The teams have met only once, a 56-3 Georgia win in Athens in September 1998.

Kent State picked up its first win of the season last week with a 63-10 victory against Long Island University. The Golden Flashes already have faced two Power 5 conference opponents, losing at Washington and at Oklahoma in consecutive weeks prior to that victory.

Kent State coach Sean Lewis knows his team is facing a monumental obstacle against the best defense in the nation.

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it’s the greatest collection of talent that’s ever been assembled on a football team because of the work (Georgia) coach (Kirby) Smart and his staff and the tireless, relentless effort they put into building the program to an elite, elite level, right?” Lewis said Monday.

The Bulldogs have shut out four of their past 14 opponents and nearly blanked South Carolina last week in their Southeastern Conference opener. Georgia gave up its only score in a 48-7 rout with 53 seconds left in the game. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Bulldogs in their past five regular-season games.

Despite losing the No. 1 overall pick among 15 players drafted by the NFL from the 2021 roster, Georgia has the nation’s top scoring defense, allowing 3.3 points per game. The Bulldogs also are ranked 13th in total defense, giving up 249 yards per game.

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

Georgia’s offense is no slouch either.

Led by quarterback Stetson Bennett, the Bulldogs have scored 43.3 points per game over their first three games, and have the third-ranked passing offense (376.7 passing yards per game) among FBS teams.

“When you play a team that has 67 scholarship athletes that were four or five-star (recruits) out of their 85 scholarship athletes, there’s no looking forward,” Lewis said. “We get 12 of these a year and we look forward to each and every one of these. We ain’t looking past this one. We’re going down there and looking to compete and looking to win and we’ll handle our business this week in order to give ourselves a chance.”

Smart was very complimentary of Benett’s counterpart in this matchup. Kent State starter Collin Schlee has completed 33 of 55 passes for 508 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions this season. The Golden Flashes also have four running backs with over 100 yards so far led by Marquez Cooper’s 180 yards and three touchdowns.

“They’ve got a quarterback that I didn’t know a lot about who is, No. 1, a tremendous athlete,” Smart said. “No. 2, he makes a lot of people miss. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hand. He’s made some wild throws. You’re going to hear about this guy. He’s had some 60, 70-yard passes that are incredible.”

–Field Level Media

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