ATHENS, Ga. -- For a half, Georgia Southern's running game gave Georgia every bit as much trouble as one might expect in defending a tricky option offense that is drastically different from anything the Bulldogs have seen to this point.
Todd Grantham's defense put its foot down in the third quarter, however, and the Bulldogs turned a tight game into a 45-14 rout that will come in handy next Saturday against Georgia Tech (6-5) and its highly similar flexbone attack.
"Seeing it live in full speed in a game right before playing Tech, it definitely helps us," Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings said. "Our scout team offense can only simulate it so well. They do a great job, but seeing it live from an offense where that's what they do every week, it will definitely benefit us."
Yes, Georgia Southern (8-3) is a lower-division team, but it possesses the most effective rushing attack in the FCS with an average of 401.2 yards per game entering Saturday's visit to Sanford Stadium. The Eagles rolled up an unsightly 302 rushing yards on 58 carries against the fifth-ranked Bulldogs (10-1) on Saturday, but that number hardly tells an accurate story.
The Eagles rushed for 149 yards in the first half and trailed just 17-7 at halftime after Georgia scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Malcolm Mitchell with four seconds left in the second quarter. But the Bulldogs began to get a handle on the Eagles' option game in the third quarter and removed any thoughts of an Appalachian State-Michigan-style upset.
The Bulldogs limited the Eagles to 31 rushing yards on 12 carries in the third quarter, resulting in three punts and a lost fumble by fullback Dominique Swope. Meanwhile, Murray directed three touchdown drives in the quarter -- scoring on two passes to Chris Conley and one to Tavarres King -- and suddenly the 17-7 advantage had grown to 38-7.