ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart didn’t want to talk about his team clinching a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
Smart wants his No. 2 Bulldogs, who this week debuted at No. 1 in the College Football Playoff poll, to maintain the focus they showed in protecting their undefeated record.
Jake Fromm proved he can throw — and block a little, too — as his two touchdown passes led Georgia to a 24-10 win over South Carolina and the SEC East title on Saturday.
The Bulldogs clinched the division title and a spot in the SEC championship game when Mississippi beat Kentucky 37-34 in a game that ended when Smart was completing his postgame news conference.
“There won’t be any celebrating,” Smart said. “We’ve got a game to play against Auburn next week. That’s where our focus is.”
Georgia (9-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference, No. 1 CFP) has won its first nine games for the first time since 1982. The spot in the SEC championship game, possibly against No. 1 Alabama, is secure, but Georgia will be looking to protect its lofty CFP status when it plays at No. 16 Auburn.
Fromm, the freshman best known for handing off to a deep group of Georgia tailbacks, earned respect from South Carolina a few days after Gamecocks defensive back Chris Lammons said the Bulldogs “can’t pass.”
Fromm was accurate and efficient, completing 16 of 22 passes for 196 yards with scoring passes of 10 yards to Javon Wims and 20 yards to Mecole Hardman . He did not throw an interception.
Fromm came through for the Bulldogs when the Gamecocks’ defense put its emphasis on stopping the run.
“We made Jake Fromm play quarterback,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “And I compliment Jake: He played extremely well tonight. He was very accurate with the football.”
Fromm also had the final block to clear the way for Sony Michel to score on a direct-snap, 8-yard run in the first quarter.
“That was a key block right there,” Michel said. “I needed that block. As soon as he made that block, I knew I was gonna score. He does that all the time. If he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, he’s running downfield trying to make plays.”
South Carolina (6-3, 4-3) had its three-game winning streak snapped.
“We competed hard and you didn’t see anyone give up or backing down,” South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley said.
Nick Chubb ran for 102 yards on 20 carries for Georgia. Michel added 81 yards rushing.
Georgia, accustomed to lopsided SEC wins, led only 14-7 at halftime.
The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Fromm’s touchdown pass to Hardman, who made a leaping catch over Jamyest Williams.
Bentley completed 21 of 35 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Georgia: The test from the Gamecocks should help the Bulldogs in tougher matchups ahead, including the visit to Auburn. Georgia showed poise when tested early. The win should boost Fromm’s confidence, especially when future opponents load up their defenses against the run.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks gave the Bulldogs their toughest game since a 20-19 win at then-No. 24 Notre Dame on Sept. 9. South Carolina stacked the defensive front but still gave up 242 yards rushing. The Gamecocks were held to 43 yards rushing.
Georgia opened the game with an onside kick recovered by the Gamecocks at the 50. Georgia’s defense supported Smart’s gamble by making a stop, and South Carolina’s Parker White missed a 46-yard field goal attempt.
Smart said he called for the onside kick “because it was there.”
“I want to be aggressive at the University of Georgia and not be hunted,” he said. “We want to hunt.”
ON FURTHER REVIEW
Each team had first-half touchdown catches determined by reviews.
Bentley’s 12-yard pass to Bryan Edwards early in the second half was ruled incomplete before the officials’ review determined Edwards made the catch before going out of bounds. The touchdown tied the game at 7.
On Georgia’s next drive, a review determined Wims had his left foot in bounds on his touchdown catch.
Georgia: Visits No. 16 Auburn on Saturday.
South Carolina: Hosts Florida on Saturday.