Bearing little resemblance to the team that had stumbled and lost four games earlier in the season, Georgia seized control of the contest in the first half and quickly dismantled the befuddled visitors. In improving to 3-4 (2-3 SEC), the Bulldogs provided the Homecoming crowd with plenty of highlights and kept Vanderbilt pinned on its own end of the field for most of the day.
The final stats, not surprisingly, were ugly for the outmanned Commodores. The offense, which had seemed to progress in Vandy's last three games, unquestionably took some major steps backward Saturday.
"We were whipped in every phase of the game—offense, defense and special teams," said Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell. "Everything that could go wrong did. It was a very rough day.
"We are playing a lot of young people. Unfortunately we're the kind of team that has to strike a match in order to get a little spark on offense. We're not able to grind it out. Georgia is the kind of team that can pound you with run, run, play-action. It's very tough to stop."
Georgia's freshman quarterback Aaron Murray had a near-perfect day, throwing for 287 yards and two touchdowns. And the Bulldogs' running game, even without suspended starter Caleb King, racked up 232 yards, led by Washaun Ealey's 123.
On a sleepy, sunny afternoon at Sanford Stadium, the game started slowly-- the first quarter took 55 minutes to play, thanks to four timeouts and a couple of reviewed plays. But once the Bulldogs got rolling, it didn't take long for the game to get out of hand.
After Georgia took a 3-0 lead on a Blair Walsh field goal, Ealey broke a tackle in the backfield and burst 58 yards to set up a 15-yard Carlton Thomas score. On Vandy's next play from scrimmage, the snap sailed over Larry Smith's head and out the back of the end zone, resulting in a Georgia safety.
Over the second and third quarters, Georgia scored points on six consecutive possessions. Vanderbilt's offense, meanwhile, never penetrated past the Bulldog 35.
The feeling in the Vandy locker room afterwards was one of disappointment and disbelief.
"We just didn't execute," said linebacker Chris Marve, who returned to the starting lineup after missing the Eastern Michigan game with an injury. "It's nothing that they did. It's what we didn't do. We didn't come all the way to Athens, Georgia to lose today. We didn't accomplish our goal."
"Georgia did exactly what we thought they would," said offensive tackle Wesley Johnson. "I don't know if we were focused enough. I told the redshirting freshmen to take this in, because this can't be what happens for the rest of the season. We've got to change some things."
On the Georgia side, things were more rosy. Georgia has now won two SEC games in a row following a four-game slide earlier this season, one which had head coach Mark Richt in hot water with some fans.
"I told the team after the game, it doesn't matter what level of football you are playing, a shutout is hard to get-- ever," said Richt. "That's just a great job by everybody on the defensive team. And when the offense doesn't turn it over and put the defense in a bad way, that helps too. Everybody had a hand in that."
The Commodores return home next week to face Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks for a 6 p.m. ET game. The game will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net. The Gamecocks played Kentucky Saturday.
Starting defensive tackle Adam Smotherman made his first appearance of the season after missing the first five games. Smotherman didn't start, but saw limited action. T.J. Greenstone dressed, but missed his second consecutive game.
Georgia introduced a new English bulldog as mascot, "UGA VIII", in ceremonies before the game.