ATLANTA — Georgia took care of its state bragging rights so it could shift its focus to bigger championships.
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.
“It was important to us,” Michel said. “It was important to Dawg Nation. By us playing so well today, it means a lot.”
The Bulldogs had 247 yards rushing and 471 total yards 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 No. 6 Auburn, which beat the Bulldogs two weeks ago and topped No. 1 Alabama on Saturday. Winning their first SEC title since 2005 could give the Bulldogs a chance to make the College Football Playoff.
“It’s an awesome feeling. To get to play for an SEC title is something we’re really looking forward to,” said safety Roquan Smith, who led Georgia’s defense with nine tackles, including three for losses.
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.
“I don’t know if my frustration has ever been this high,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said.
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.
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.
Austin said the defense struggled with “just wrapping up.”
“They’ve got good backs,” Austin said. “They did a good job. I’ll give them credit. We couldn’t get off the field on third downs.”
The Yellow Jackets were held to a season-low 226 yards.
“We were able to get it around them a few times, but they’re a good defense ... flying everywhere,” said Georgia Tech’s Nathan Cottrell, who had five carries for 43 yards.
The Yellow Jackets’ only points came on TaQuon Marshall’s 10-yard scoring pass to Ricky Jeune, who was left uncovered in the end zone late in the first half.
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 most lopsided win in the series since Georgia’s 42-10 win in 2012 will build momentum for the rematch against Auburn.
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 for Georgia Tech’s defense, which also struggled in last week’s 43-20 loss at Duke.
MICHEL MOVES UP
Michel has 3,314 yards rushing to pass Garrison Hearst for third place on Georgia’s career list. Michel trails only Herschel Walker (5,259) and Chubb (4,522).
MILESTONE FOR MARSHALL
Marshall ran for 72 yards set a new school single-season school record for yards rushing by a quarterback with 1,146. Justin Thomas set the previous mark with 1,086 in 2014.
NO RUSHING TD
Georgia Tech was held without a rushing touchdown for the first time since its 13-7 loss to Georgia in 2015.
Georgia: Will play No. 6 Auburn in the SEC championship game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets’ season ended because no five-win teams were needed to fill bowl slots.