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Bulldogs cruise to 1st SEC title since 1982

Arkansas never recovers after a pumped-up Georgia scores on its first five possessions, wins 30-3.

©Associated Press
December 8, 2002

ATLANTA -- Georgia knew its national championship hopes were scuttled before it even kicked off Saturday night. It sure didn't seem to bother the Bulldogs.

Fourth-ranked Georgia ended 20 years of frustration by blowing out Arkansas 30-3 in the SEC Championship Game, sending the Bulldogs to the Sugar Bowl.

"We still had a lot to play for," Georgia cornerback Decory Bryant said. "It's been 20 years since we won a championship. The national title is something we would like to have done, but winning the SEC -- one of the toughest conferences in the country -- is a very special thing."

Clearly pumped up by their first trip to the SEC title game, the Bulldogs (12-1) scored on their first five possessions for a 23-0 halftime lead.

It is Georgia's first SEC title since 1982, when Vince Dooley was coach and Herschel Walker was taking handoffs. The coronation came 75 miles from the Athens campus, before a crowd of 75,835 that was heavily tilted toward the Bulldogs.

Musa Smith rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns. David Greene threw for 237 yards and a score, earning the game's MVP award. Terrence Edwards had seven catches for 92 yards, becoming the SEC's career leader in receiving yards.

Arkansas (9-4) had won six in a row to earn its second trip to the league championship game. This one wasn't much different from the first in 1995, when the Razorbacks were blown out by Florida 34-3.

Georgia coach Mark Richt worried that his team, ranked third in the BCS standings, might be a little down since top-ranked Miami won earlier.

But Richt had no cause for concern. This group of players was intent on ending the longest championship drought in the program's storied history.

If anything, the Bulldogs appeared a little too fired up. They had five personal fouls, finishing with 115 yards in penalties to set an SEC title game record. It didn't matter. This game belonged to Georgia from the start. The No. 22 Razorbacks were stuffed on their first possession, the pro-Bulldog crowd whipped into a frenzy when Boss Bailey sacked Matt Jones on third down.

The noise increased when Bryant blew past the line without being touched to block Richie Butler's punt. Thomas Davis scooped up the loose ball and ran to the 2.

After Bryant's big play, Smith powered into the end zone standing up to put Georgia ahead 7-0. The game was three minutes old and the rout was on its way.

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