Georgia escapes from Miami

We are still sportless. COVID-19 has taken over our lives, but we here at the Men of the Scarlet and Gray present the strictly hypothetical “Expanded College Football Playoffs.” We have all dreamed of expansion, but here we have a cool little set-up that was created by our colleague Chris. Twelve teams with one goal, to make it to the championship game, have been selected. We have done it the right way, taking most of the conference bias away. All power five champions along with the group of five champions and a pair of at-large bids have given us a football version of the “Big Dance.”

And if you don’t like the at-large teams selected, get your own blog and do it your way.

One of the first-round games features No. 5 Georgia, an at-large selection from the eSpnEC, taking on No. 12 Miami University (not The U, the one in Ohio).

It wasn’t easy. In fact, the Bulldogs almost had an early exit, trailing the entire game until a pick-six tied the game, and then a 42-yard field goal with a minute left gave them a 27-24 win.

From the time they first showed up on the field, the Bulldogs had a swagger that went beyond arrogance. They acted like they shouldn’t have been in a first-round game and were goofing off and horsing around during pre-game warmups. Meanwhile, Miami was all business and appeared focused.

The RedHawks won the toss and took the ball, not wanting to waste any time.

QB Brett Gabbert led Miami on a masterful 12-play, 80 yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. The drive culminated with a 10-yard TD run by Jaylon Bester.

Georgia tried to get cute on its first possession, trying a halfback pass that was nearly intercepted. From there, D’Andre Swift took over, running five times for 65 yards. The drive stalled on the RedHawks 30 and Rodrigo Blankenship hit a 47-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

The defenses took over from there forcing punts on the next few possessions as the first quarter ended 7-3 Miami, which had the ball at its own 40.

Gabbert again worked his magic, unleashing a 60-yard TD pass to James Maye to make it 14-3.

Georgia appeared rattled at that point and could do nothing offensively as Miami was determined to shut down Swift and take its chances with Jake Fromm throwing the ball.

It worked and Fromm showed why he wasn’t a high draft pick, overthrowing and underthrowing wide-open receivers. The only thing saving the Bulldogs was Miami being equally ineffective on offense in the second quarter as the halftime score remained 14-3 Miami.

Georgia regrouped at halftime and took the opening kickoff to the Miami 49. From there, Fromm was able to dink and dunk the Bulldogs to the goal line, where Swift plunged in to make it 14-10.

The RedHawks answered with a 30-yard field goal from Sam Sloman to mae it 17-10 after a drive stalled.

Again the defenses stepped up.

The teams exchanged punts and then the Bulldogs made field goals on back-to-back drives to make it 17-16 going into the fourth quarter.

Momentum was on Georgia’s side, but the lights nearly went out when Miami chewed up eight minutes of precious time, using short passes and four-yard runs to keep the chains, and clock moving.

The drive finished when Gabbert scored on a 10-yard keeper to make it 24-16.

Georgia drove down to the Miami 30 but the drive stalled there and Blankenship missed a 47-yard field goal with 5:30 left.

Miami was content to run the ball and chew up more clock. But facing a third and nine from its own 35, disaster struck as a Gabbert pass was picked off at the 50 and returned for a touchdown. Georgia went for two and tied it with 2:30 left after a Swift scamper.

Miami again tried to be conservative and went three and out. Georgia used its timeouts to save clock and after a nice punt return from Swift, started from its own 49 with 1:50 left.

Fromm dropped back to pass on first down, was forced from the pocket, and scrambled all the way to the Miami 25. The Bulldogs tried to run three times and were stuffed at the line. Miami used its timeouts and forced the Bulldogs to attempt a 42-yard field goal with 1:07 on the clock.

Blankenship nailed the kick with a minute left to give Georgia its first lead, 27-24.

The RedHawks went three and out on their next possession, shattering their dreams of a monumental upset.

Somehow Georgia managed to advance.

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