Just in time for a top-15 matchup with Auburn, the Bulldogs welcomed back running back Todd Gurley from a four-game NCAA suspension. But on this night, a night that would be his last in a Georgia uniform, Gurley was outshone by a freshman running back. Nick Chubb, not starting for the first time in four games, racked up 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns en route to a 34-7 victory over the ninth-ranked Tigers.
After season-opening wins over Louisiana-Monroe and Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs faced off against South Carolina and longtime nemesis Steve Spurrier in Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs continued their hot start to the season with a 52-20 obliteration of the Gamecocks. Quarterback Greyson Lambert set an NCAA record for completion percentage by completing 24 of 25 passes. Then-sophomore running back Nick Chubb continued his ascent into the Heisman conversation by running for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Georgia played Notre Dame for the first time since the two met in the national championship game for the 1980 season. As the 2017 season progressed, this early-season matchup continued to appear more noteworthy. Even though neither team was in the top 10 when this game was played, both Georgia and Notre Dame ranked in the top four of the initial College Football Playoff rankings. In the shadow of Touchdown Jesus, receiver Terry Godwin had a one-handed touchdown grab that drew comparisons to Odell Beckham Jr. In his first start, freshman quarterback Jake Fromm managed the game well, but ultimately two seniors sealed the win. Senior Davin Bellamy strip-sacked Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush, and fellow Georgia senior Lorenzo Carter recovered the fumble, handing Georgia the 20-19 win.
In the biggest game of their careers, the Georgia seniors were essential to the biggest win the Bulldogs have had in quite some time. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for one of the best games of their times in Athens, combining for 326 rushing yards on just 25 carries and putting the ball in the end zone five times. Lorenzo Carter also came up with the biggest play of his career, blocking a field goal in overtime to allow the Bulldogs to win the game 54-48 two plays later on Michel’s 27-yard touchdown run.
Kirby Smart made his head-coaching debut inside the Georgia Dome and helped lead the Bulldogs to their first win in that venue in a decade. Down by one point heading into the fourth quarter, a field goal from William Ham and a Nick Chubb touchdown run propelled the Bulldogs ahead of UNC. Smart started his Georgia tenure off well by knocking off this top-25 team, something he has now done quite a few more times since this season opener in 2016.
This group of seniors returned for 2017 because they felt they had unfinished business. They took care of that against Auburn, defeating the Tigers 28-7 for Georgia’s first SEC championship since the 2005 season. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were mostly held in check, running for 77 and 45 yards, respectively. However, the defensive seniors stepped up when they were needed most. Davin Bellamy made one of the biggest plays of the game with a strip sack of Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham when it looked like the Tigers were about to go up 14-0. Lorenzo Carter also chipped in with six tackles, including half a tackle for loss.