Welcome to the Jungle

UGA may be having a good year, but we do not have a road win against a rival yet. Florida is a neutral site, and we suddenly own Jacksonville. The Vols came to the Classic City, as will little Georgia Tech. Mizzou was not exactly an SEC site; it was all too novel for the middle Americans, a rival of Kansas.

When the 2012 schedule finally came out, I predicted GEORGIA would lose one regular season game: at Auburn or at South Carolina. Losing both would dismantle our dreams and put Richt back on the hot seat. Two of his three D coordinators, including stellar Mr. Double Thumbs Up Brian VanGorder, reside on the plains, for at least another two games. BVG has always been considered a superior coordinator to Mike Bobo, and he must be relishing this chance. While Willie Martinez will have their secondary as ready as he can and probably wants this one more than anyone.

Matthew Stafford’s freshman year saw the Dawgs drop games to Vandy and Kentucky (in football) during a mid-season swoon. When we faced Auburn, we were unheralded and they were #5…we blew them out. Georgia sits at #5 in the BCS this year, yet the prettiest village on the plains could be heartbreak city.

Jonathan Wallace is a freshman quarterback for Auburn, inserted into the starting lineup out of desperation. He has not been sacked and has good mobility and a decent arm. Running back Tre Mason has played as well as any back in the SEC over the past few games, including a blowout win last week over a bad team. Auburn has had three consecutive recruiting classes ranked in the Top 10 – the talent is there in the program. But losing is contagious, and once Georgia gets a lead in this game doubt should permeate the young minds of the Plainsmen-Tigers-WarDamnEagles. After all, they are winless in the SEC. Auburn has never before been 0-8 in conference, and they get #1 Bama next in the Iron Bowl.

Win tonight and Georgia wins the SEC East. The Dawgs may be underdogs to the Tide in Atlanta, where Richt is 2-2 in SEC championship games (1-2 vs LSU; 1-0 vs. Arkansas). A win would cement his legacy. Ask Nick Saban: it is in many ways easier to win a popularity contest National Championship than the SEC. BAMA is undefeated entering Saturday, but the top-tier talent they lost to the NFL shouldn’t be minimized.

I was in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park for hours yesterday, site of the first ever Georgia-Auburn game, Oldest Rivalry in the Deep South. Georgia should scrimmage Auburn here every spring, free for the fans in a general admission contest. It would be the biggest entertainment revolution in a sport which needs innovation beyond a well past due four-team playoff. The Eagles played Piedmont; Paul McCartney played Piedmont; Music Midtown is back in the park. The field near Park Tavern wouldn’t need much conversion. If the NCAA can play hockey outside and hoops on a ship, this too can happen. I have a dream.

Malcolm Mitchell may lead Georgia back to ATL. He has seventeen total grabs in the past three games and two touchdowns. He runs shoddy routes sometimes but has the raw athleticism to break any game open, as he finally did when really needed in Jacksonville. UGA leads the SEC in plays of forty yards or more. Win today, and we will have beaten our sister school Auburn in 7-of-8, in the statistically most-competitive series in the long history of American college football ~ greatest sport in the world.