The Bulldogs have not won a national championship since their 1980 campaign. So far this season, though, the swagger that erupts from Athens most autumns appears so well-placed that Alabama’s standing as the country’s top team is in clear doubt. The two teams could meet on Dec. 4, when the Southeastern Conference will hold its championship game — which could be less of a play-in game than one that would determine seedings.
Through the season’s first five games, the Georgia defense, one of the nation’s best by one metric after another, has proved as soul-crushingly expert as an Atlanta rush hour at shutting down whatever lane just looked open. The offense, not even the most sterling within the SEC, has driven the Bulldogs’ 142-10 dispatching of their first three opponents in the sport’s premier league.
And while Arkansas is assuredly better than its recent incarnations — 3-7 last season, 2-10 before that and 2-10 before that — the Razorbacks’ performance on Saturday signals that Arkansas is not back to being a power reminiscent of the Frank Broyles era. Indeed, the team’s evisceration on Saturday probably did more to fuel questions about the strength of Texas A&M, a preseason playoff contender that lost by 10 to Arkansas last month, than it did to herald the start of a dynasty, or even something much more modest, in Fayetteville.
Arkansas did, however, win the coin toss.
The Razorbacks deferred until the second half and, after a touchback, invited Stetson Bennett, Georgia’s second-string quarterback, to trot out in the place of JT Daniels, the injured signal caller who had started for the Bulldogs against Clemson, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
The snap came from the 25-yard line. Bennett, who averaged under 7 yards per carry last season, kept the ball and sped toward his right, nearly picking up a first down. The next play brought the next offensive outburst, this time with the arm of a running Bennett: a 16-yard pass to Ladd McConkey, a redshirt freshman who caught it as two Arkansas defenders drew close a step or two too slowly.