After a week of uncertainty, Jordan Rodgers got the start. But the presence of Vanderbilt’s senior quarterback couldn’t change the outcome of a one-sided affair on Saturday night.
The Commodores surrendered 27 first-half points en route to a 48-3 loss at No. 5 Georgia, their most lopsided defeat in nearly nine years. The Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 SEC) piled up 567 yards and scored seven touchdowns in their sixth straight win over Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2).
"I think the difference in the game was played up front, especially with their offensive line," Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. "They did a really good job of running the ball with power and forced us to load the box, which opened up the passing game on the outside. I didn't feel like we played with the confidence that we normally play with on the outside."
Rodgers was given the nod after Austyn Carta-Samuels started against Presbyterian. While his numbers weren’t awful – 13-of-23 for 218 yards – he failed to lead the Commodores into the end zone. He almost got there late in the fourth quarter. But replays showed what was initially ruled a three-yard touchdown run by Rodgers was actually a fumble at the 1 that went through the end zone and turned the ball over to the Bulldogs.
By that point, that though, the game was no longer in the balance. In fact, it was over by halftime.
Georgia (4-0, 2-0) scored on its first four possessions, capped by Aaron Murray’s 1-yard plunge for a 27-0 lead with 5:17 left in the second quarter. The Commodores’ only points came on a 29-yard field goal by Carey Spear with 20 seconds left before the half.
The Bulldogs had their way on the ground, picking up 302 rushing yards. Todd Gurley led the way with 130 yards and two touchdowns. Keith Marshall also scored twice and had 82 yards.
Murray was just as efficient through the air with 250 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-24 passing.
"It's always a good feeling to put the hat and headset on at the end of the game," Murray said. "We did a great job tonight on offense, defense and special teams. I think it's the first game all year that every part of our football team has played a complete 60 minutes."
On the flip side, Zac Stacy led Vanderbilt with 83 rushing yards. The Commodores did have two 100-yard receivers in the same game for the first time since 2006. Jordan Matthews caught eight passes for 119 yards and Chris Boyd had eight catches for 110 yards.
Rodgers played the entire game except for the last series. Carta-Samuels entered completed one of two passes for 13 yards before Vanderbilt punted to Georgia, which ran off the last 18 seconds.
"I didn't feel like we have had anyone who has really taken hold of the quarterback position," Franklin said. "We are treating this position like we do some of the other positions. We are going to look at who practices well throughout the week and let them play on Saturday until someone grabs hold of the position."
Vanderbilt, which is idle next week before traveling to Missouri on Oct. 6, hadn’t lost this bad since a 48-0 shutout to Tennessee in the final game of 2003.