The No. 3 Bulldogs also got a measure of revenge by beating defending national champion and 13th ranked LSU 45-16 in front of 92,746 fans in Sanford Stadium. The Tigers beat Georgia twice last season.
“I’m just thrilled to death with what happened,” Coach Mark Richt said, “and a little surprised.”
The Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 SEC) had 430 yards and six touchdowns against a defense that was ranked fifth nationally in both scoring defense (8.5 points per game) and total defense (236 yards per game).
“I thought we were ready to play,” said LSU coach Nick Saban, whose team fell to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in the SEC. “The outcome is a curveball to me.”
It was the most points scored by Georgia against an SEC opponent since it beat Kentucky 52-24 on Oct. 26, 2002, and the most surrendered by LSU since 1996.
And the method of the victory was as surprising as the margin.
Georgia’s passing game, ranked seventh in the SEC entering the game, sliced up an LSU defense that manhandled it twice last year. Senior quarterback David Greene threw a school-record five touchdowns and tied John Rauch as the winningest quarterback in school history with a 36-8 career record.
“David Greene has meant so much to this program,” said Richt, who made headlines during the week when his frustration with answering questions about his struggling offense bubbled over in a news conference. “The first three games, statistically it wasn’t happening for him. To have him have a record-breaking game against a great football team on national television is just fantastic.”
Greene, who needs four more wins to become the winningest quarterback in college football history, was 10 of 19 overall for 172 yards.
“Whoo, that was fun,” he said. “It was awesome. Today was one of those days we got in a groove. We’ve never made that many plays, especially against such a good team. That team doesn’t get score on a lot.”
The dominanting offensive performance was completely unexpected after the Bulldogs totalled just 33 points in wins over South Carolina and Marshall. Even Richt admitted after the game that he was “befuddled” by his offense’s inability to score.
“I’m like, ‘What is the problem?” he said.
Speculation was beginning to grow nationally that Georgia was over its head in the nation’s top five.
“People really don’t give Georgia the credit we earn,” said wide receiver Reggie Brown, who joined Fred Gibson with a pair of touchdown catches. “They are always talking about, we can’t put point on the board and we shouldn’t be a top five team. We just proved it.”
The next test comes quickly as No. 10 Tennessee visits Sanford Stadium next Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. game. The Volunteers played Auburn late Saturday.
Georgia’s defense backed up the offense with its usual smothering effort. The Bulldogs led 24-0 before LSU made its second first down or eclipsed 25 yards in total offense.
“It was a little surreal really to see the score where it was early in the game,” Richt said.
Georgia had five sacks, and Thomas Davis caused two first half fumble that led to touchdowns with bone-jarring hits. Mary Persons native Tra Battle forced another fumble in the fourth quarter.
But it was the embattled offense that led the way. After gaining just 2 yards on its first possession, Georgia scored on its next four, and freshman tailback Danny Ware had 109 yards on 22 carries.
LSU got a glimmer of hope late in the first half, scoring 10 points in the final 1:23 of the half. In the halftime locker room, Richt reminded his team of last year’s Capital One Bowl, when it led Purdue 24-0 before ending up in overtime.
The Bulldogs responded by pulling out to a 45-10 lead on a 1-yard Thomas Brown touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“Hopefully this will provide us some confidence and momentum,” Richt said. “I don’t think we’d lost confidence completely, but we needed a boost.”