By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Sony Michel ran for 85 yards and a touchdown, Jake Fromm threw two touchdown passes and No. 7 Georgia protected its playoff hopes with a dominant 38-7 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
The Bulldogs had 247 yards rushing as Michel, Nick Chubb and D’Andre Swift ran for touchdowns. Fromm threw scoring passes of 21 yards to Javon Wims and 78 yards to Ahkil Crumpton.
The win gives Georgia (11-1, No. 7 CFP) momentum for next week’s Southeastern Conference championship game against the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Auburn.
“Our kids have played really hard,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They’ve gotten better throughout the year. They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do as a program. We’re really excited about where we are, and we’ve got a challenge next week.”
Georgia Tech (5-6), which had won two of the last three games in the state rivalry, was denied the win it needed to become bowl-eligible. The Yellow Jackets now must hope for a bowl waiver based on their academics if there is a shortage of bowl-eligible teams.
Asked to recap the season, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said: “I think just disappointment. I think we had a chance to have a much better year and I’m frustrated I couldn’t find a way to make them better. … I don’t know if my frustration has ever been this high.”
Georgia Tech, which was 0-5 on the road this year, saw its eight-game home winning streak end. But a home loss was nothing new for the Yellow Jackets in the rivalry. Georgia has won nine straight games at Georgia Tech since the Yellow Jackets’ last home win in the series in 1999.
The Bulldogs reclaimed state bragging rights following last year’s 28-27 home loss to the Yellow Jackets. Georgia claimed the most lopsided win in the series since its 42-10 win in 2012.
Fromm completed 12 of 16 passes for 224 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Michel ran to his right before cutting back to his left, leaving Georgia Tech cornerback Lance Austin face down on the field, on his third-quarter scoring run.
“We missed a ton of tackles,” Johnson said.
Georgia’s defense, led by linebacker Roquan Smith, used its speed to often cut off the outside runs on Georgia Tech’s spread option pitches. Smith had nine tackles, including three for losses. D’Andre Walker had six tackles, with two for losses.
The Yellow Jackets were held to a season-low 226 yards. Georgia had 471 total yards.
Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall ran for 72 yards but completed only 2 of 9 passes for 38 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The Yellow Jackets were held without a rushing touchdown. Their only points came on Marshall’s 10-yard scoring pass to Ricky Jeune, who was left uncovered in the end zone late in the first half.
With Georgia leading 31-7, Georgia Tech’s hopes for a late rally were hurt when Deandre Baker intercepted Marshall’s pass in the end zone with less than 13 minutes remaining. Fromm took advantage of the turnover with the long touchdown pass to Crumpton.
Georgia: The Bulldogs’ defense showed its speed in containing Marshall and the Yellow Jackets’ usually potent option attack. The win also was another demonstration of the depth in Georgia’s running game and the composure of Fromm, who did not commit a turnover. The lopsided win will help build needed momentum for the SEC championship game.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets suffered their second losing regular season in the last three years under Johnson. They are only 17-19 since winning 11 games in 2014. The lopsided loss to Georgia in a rivalry known for recent close games may lead Johnson to consider changes to his staff, and Johnson himself could feel the heat from athletic director Todd Stansbury. It was a poor finish to the season for Georgia Tech’s defense, which also struggled in last week’s 43-20 loss at Duke.
Georgia: Will play No. 1 Alabama or No. 6 Auburn in the SEC championship game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.
Georgia Tech: Barring a waiver, the Yellow Jackets’ season ended. Georgia Tech could receive a bowl invitation at 5-6 because of its strong 983 Academic Progress Report score, but only if there aren’t enough .500 teams to fill all the slots.