BATON ROUGE — In the landscape of a nightmare, a golden sign hovers near the field that reads WELCOME TO DEATH VALLEY. The bruising, haunting afternoon wanes, and a big, loud subset of 102,321 onlookers serenades the losing visitor with a heartwarming chant about how that visitor ought to perform a carnal act upon the cherished tiger mascot.
Georgia thudded last year as No. 2 with a 40-17 loss at No. 10 Auburn on Nov. 11 — two months before it appeared anyway in the national championship game — and it thudded Saturday as No. 2 against a fantastic No. 13 LSU at Tiger Stadium.
Credit the new empire of Georgia with this, as it fixes to topple from No. 2 in the rankings after its 36-16 loss Saturday: When it does get around to losing in the regular season, it does not mess around losing by this play or that or this break or that or this call or that. It loses with gigantic thuds amid the harshest loudness.
In a nightmare, the other team plays too rapidly for the beleaguered to keep up. That kept happening to Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday in the hot sun of alleged autumn. “I feel like they weren’t ready for it,” wide receiver Justin Jefferson said after his six catches for 108 yards. “I feel like the fastballs really kept them on their heels. They got very tired, fast.”
“I don’t think Georgia was really ready for that,” quarterback Joe Burrow said after his most prodigious game since transferring from Ohio State.
“You know, they’re gasping for air, and walking around,” Jefferson said. “So when we see that, we wanted to take those shots downfield.”