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Dawg-gone: Senior Boykin shines, Georgia shamed in Outback Bowl loss

Nothing makes a coaching staff look worse than for its team to get tarred and feathered in the second half. The assumption is, the headset-wearers in the other locker room outsmarted them.

What does this say about Mark Richt and crew? Their Bulldogs were schooled again, in a milder repeat of the SEC Championship game, letting a dominant first half go to seed in a 33-30 triple-overtime loss to Michigan State at the Outback Bowl in Tampa.

The Bulldogs' defense, executing with as much fire as crafty coordinator Todd Grantham displays on the sidelines, owned the Spartans in a 16-0 first half. Michy State seemingly could not score if it was the only guy at a ladies'-only nightclub.

It was a sequel to the opening half against LSU, where a 10-7 score did not hint at the Dogs' sheer dominance afield.

This time, UGA was undone by (1.) senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, who overcame three picks to rally Sparty; (2.) their own QB, Aaron Murray, whose occasional erratic throwing compromises his frequent excellence; (3.) the failure of UGA's tailback-by-committee, where an army of six produced 65 yards; (4.) the Blair Witch Project -- excuse me, the Blair Walsh Project, a horror tale by the hit-and-miss placekicker; (5) a dumb decision by Richt.

In the first overtime, UGA faced second-and-eight at the MSU 23. Rather than run two legitimate plays, Richt had Murray take an intentional loss on second down to position the ball in the middle, then brought on Walsh for a field goal on third down. As wild as Walsh has been, it was ill-advised to kick anytime other than fourth down.

Signing off on two Dawgs of note:

--Brandon Boykin played a game that he will one day relish telling his kids, grandkids -- heck, his entire extended family. One sensational tackle resulted in a safety. He returned a punt 92 yards to the house. He caught a 13-yard TD pass. He carried twice for eight yards and registered six additional tackles, one more for a loss. All in all, a fitting bow for the senior.

--Freshman Isaiah Crowell, whose stock is in free-fall, carried thrice for three yards before excusing himself with an aggravated ankle sprain. He was the third tailback deployed by Richt, which suggests that the role is open next spring, when the Bulldogs need to work on protecting halftime leads.


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