NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Carson Beck threw for 261 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score as top-ranked Georgia shook off both an early kickoff and losing star tight end Brock Bowers out with left foot injury before halftime in beating Vanderbilt. 37-20 Saturday.
Georgia (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) extended its school record and longest FBS winning streak to 24 consecutive games, and tied the school record for consecutive SEC wins at 23, first set between 1980 and 1983.
The Bulldogs have won 34 straight regular season games.
Bowers injured his left ankle midway through the second quarter, but it didn’t matter as Georgia scored 27 straight points to take control. Coach Kirby Smart said the X-rays were negative, but Bowers and right tackle Xavier Truss will both undergo MRI scans for sprained ankles.
“I’ve never had a bye week at a bad time,” Smart said of his Bulldogs’ bye week before their next game on Oct. 28.
Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-4) lost its sixth straight and sixth straight loss to Georgia.
The Bulldogs held the ball for over 37 minutes, outscoring Vanderbilt 542-219. Daijun Edwards rushed 20 times for 146 yards and a touchdown. Smart thanked Georgia fans for making a road trip to a stadium with work in each end zone feel like a home game.
“When we came out for the main part of the game, there was a sea of red when you walked across the field and a lot of red on their side,” Smart said.
The Commodores opened the game by taking a 7-0 lead with their first touchdown against Georgia under coach Clark Lea. The score also marked their first points since a 30-6 loss in 2019 in this series. Georgia had outscored Vanderbilt 117-0 overall in Lea’s first two games at his alma mater.
“We have to learn,” Lea said. “We need to maximize this bye week. We must be healthy. We need to rejuvenate ourselves and take again some of the positive progress we have made and apply it forward and deliver a superb final four games.
Ken Seals, making his third straight start for injured AJ Swann, connected on all four of his passes, the last to freshman London Humphreys who remained untouched for a 49-yard touchdown raising his right hand in the air as he crossed the goal line. .
Beck tied it with a 1-yard keeper, and he put Georgia ahead 24-7 at halftime with a 4-yard TD pass to Dominic Lovett in the final seconds after a Tykee Smith interception. Kendall Milton ran for a 3-yard touchdown and Peyton Woodring added three field goals.
Georgia’s biggest concern might be the health of its preseason All-American tight end. Bowers injured his left foot at the end of a 14-yard run midway through the second quarter when he was tackled on the sideline. He got up, limping heavily before dropping to his knees and hitting the grass.
He walked to the sideline with trainers and headed straight to the sideline medical tent. Then he walked with help and limped off the field toward the Georgia locker room.
“It looks like it’s lower, but we don’t know,” Smart said of Bowers’ ankle.
Georgia: The Bulldogs can be forgiven for a slow start considering they started this game at 11 a.m. local time in the middle of a real construction zone with cranes supporting the video board in one end zone.
Beck was chosen to run Vanderbilt’s final TD. They also lost one of three fumbles, although center Sedrick Van Pran recovered one and gained 6 yards.
“I’m really proud of our players’ resiliency and fighting through some turnovers, some adversity, some sloppy plays, some injuries,” Smart said. “But at the end of the day, they responded and they stood up to play on the road in the SEC.”
Vanderbilt: The Commodores scored their most points against Georgia since 2013 in a 31-27 victory. It was their last victory in a series where Georgia now leads 29-12-2 in games played in Nashville alone. The last time they hosted the No. 1 team in the country, Vanderbilt was shut out 59-0 by Alabama also in 2017.
Some might blame Georgia’s slow start against the Bulldogs, but their place atop the Top 25 should continue.
Georgia gets an open date before traveling to Jacksonville to face Florida on October 28.
Vanderbilt also has an open date before visiting No. 13 Mississippi.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll