ATHENS, Ga. -- They knew it was in them.
Didn't matter that the offense couldn't put together a touchdown drive. Hey, that's what the defense is for, right? As long as they got close enough to get kicker Rodrigo Blankenship close enough to drill some field goals, which he did, then it was a job well done.
The Georgia Bulldogs shutout the No. 8 Auburn Tigers in the second half, not allowing the Tigers to get one first down after halftime, to win 13-7 at Sanford Stadium and give head coach Kirby Smart the biggest victory of his head coaching career, so far.
It's Georgia's second win against a top 25 team this season, the first against North Carolina to start the season.
Smart said he's known what this team was capable of and wished he had seen it earlier, but what mattered was that he saw it.
A lot of the credit should go to Blankenship, Athens' new hero.
He kicked a 45-yard field goal to give Georgia its first lead with 13:44 left in the fourth quarter. The freshman kicker was the hero of Georgia's game against Kentucky when he went 4-for-4, including the game-winner.
Blankenship, who became famous after keeping his helmet and thick-frame black glasses on during the post game interview, has garnered social media celebrity status. He missed a 49-yard field goal on the Bulldogs next drive, but sealed the Bulldogs' victory with a 21-yard field goal after a trick play where receiver Terry Godwin threw to quarterback Jacob Eason in the end zone, who nearly made the catch.
Blankenship said the attention he's been getting has been great, but has had to block out a lot of the noise (literally, they crowd goes crazy for him when he trots out on to the field) and focus on his kicks.
Of course, none of it would have been possible without the defense, which went up against the best offense in the SEC and third best rushing offense in college football and held them to 167 total yards.
After halftime, the sun had set, and their was an awakened buzz reverberating around the stadium as Georgia entered for the second half. Maurice Smith intercepted Sean White on the first drive of the half and ran it 34 yards for a touchdown less than 30 seconds into the half.
Momentum shift thanks to "Mo."
No one could do anything else in the third quarter. The Bulldogs forced three three-and-outs with Reggie Carter sacking White on the drive after the turnover. Auburn had six three-and-outs and no first downs after the interception.
But it was a close game because Georgia's offensive woes continued, but there was improvement. The Bulldogs were able to move the ball thanks to a balanced attack and pick up 343 total yards and convert for seven third downs on 17 attempts.
But nine times, Georgia would get into Auburn's territory and the drive would stall, whether because of a mistake, sack or just good defense by the Tigers.
The Bulldogs could have been up early. Javon Wims had a 40-yard catch that would have put Georgia inside the red zone, but it was called back for holding by Tyler Catalina. On their second drive, Riley Ridley overcame pass interference and caught a 57-yard pass that was sure to set up a score for the Bulldogs. But out of the wildcat, Godwin rolled out of the pocket and threw to a wide-open Tray Matthews, the only problem was that Matthews is a former Bulldog who was released by Mark Richt in 2014, so it was an interception.
Auburn capitalized off the turnover and got the ground game going. The Tigers put together an 80-yard drive-- 56 yards of those yards from the running game-- that culminated in a 3-yard touchdown by Kerryon Johnson.
Johnson had 99 yards on 22 carries.
Georgia would suffer one more bad break before things would start to turn in their favor. In large part, the momentum began to shift after Ridley was interfered with running down the right sideline for what could have been a long touchdown pass from Eason, but no flag was thrown.
The crowd erupted, boos sounded for several plays after the non-call. But it seemed to inspire the Bulldogs, especially the defense who has kept the Bulldogs in several games this season despite the offense's lack of production.
But this time, the production was good enough. Chubb rushed for 101 yards on 23 carries, Michel rushed for 55 yards on 10 carries and Eason threw 20 completions on 31 attempts for 201 yards. All three of their efforts set up the field goals, and got the job done.
Chubb said those type of games where the defense has to carry the team can happen, and was thankful for his defense.
The Bulldogs are now bowl eligible. What bowl will they play in? Nothing special, but doesn't matter. What mattered is the Bulldogs won their third-straight against Auburn and put to bed any chance the Tigers had to go to the College Football Playoff next month.
Chubb said he felt a little bad, but "there are no friends in the SEC."