Beauty and the BEAST

Classic City early September Between the Hedges, and a lovely afternoon for the start of SEC divisional play. Only one SEC matchup aired in week one, an instant classic which saw upstart Ole Miss win on the road in Nashville late over emerging Vandy. Week two again saw only one SEC-on-SEC contest: ESPN televised GEORGIA vs. South Carolina as the big 3:30 CBS games don’t commence until week three, with Bama going at Texas A&M. The loveliest conference has shown some signs of strain of late, while gunning for eight consecutive national championships.

Arkansas and Auburn had fallen on very hard times. Mizzou was shown to be unready for primetime. Tennessee had flopped. Texas A&M hadn’t lost a game in many months but was appearing to be too full of Texas greed and swagger. BAMA had a bye after their worst offensive output during the SEC run of total dominance. Doormat Kentucky had already lost in-state this year. Big 12 favorite Okie State held the Maroon Pup Egg-bowlers to a single field goal. Florida was busy early in the day, falling to unranked Miami south of the border (below Orlando is a whole different world where the Gators don’t matter, my Miami-fan friend reminded me. My dad and I had each almost attended the “U” BTW, before both staying instate, he a Horned Frog and me a DAWG).

And much to the chagrin of the frothy red-and-black clad nation of cads and belles supporting the nation’s oldest state-chartered public university, Georgia had lost near home at Clemson, yielding 38 points on the road to an ACC squad. Those Death Valley Tigers had gone so far as to beat two top 10 SEC teams in consecutive contests, also besting the Death Valley Tigers cum-Bayou-Bengals in an A-chicken sandwich bowl formerly called Peach. Clemson currently owns the football fertile Georgia/Carolina Piedmont. Or does that distinction suddenly fall to Cocky?

Not this year. Not ever, actually. South Carolina are second class citizens. They have never won the SEC and won the East only once, where they were summarily blown out in Atlanta. GEORGIA moved to a full 30-game series advantage by igniting a serious offensive explosion for the ages. 41. We won. The Cocks were beaten. I predicted we’d win by 10. It was 11.

But we have been doing this on “O” oh so regularly since midway through Murray’s redshirt freshman campaign. Back then, AJ was suspended and the Richt and Bobo-bashers and boo-birds were out in mass. Then Bobo OC-ed us to an entire back-half regular season of 40+ point performances, which had never been done at UGA. Then last year, Georgia led the entire sporting nation in yardage per offensive play (7.09 – besting the quack of Fighting Phil Knights at Oregon and the whole NFL). We have scored 35 and 41 against the ACC favorite and the SEC East co-favorite. Georgia is playing like a frontrunner rather than an also-ran…on offense. I’d like to see us run with our power back from the I-formation much more but otherwise must give kudos to Mike.

Grantham has a bigger challenge. We have yielded 38 and 30. Giving up more than 30 a game will get you beaten. Regularly. The player most-missed amongst more heralded athletes is rugged thug-ish hitter Shawn Williams. Sure, we miss the big plays Jarvis, Tree and Rambo created, but above all we miss that fire-breathing physicality. We do not appear to be a tough defense and it is impossible to teach toughness, unfortunately. Toughness is ingrained; we need to bring the pain.

I called for the BEAST. I got the BEAST. Gurley is the man. After an SEC RB best 1,300 yards last year, Gurley got 30 carries Saturday and caught his first touchdown pass on a beautifully improvised broken route, where Murray bought more time and extended the play with his feet. Gurley had his second-in-the-nation (L. Seastrunk at Baylor has 7) fourth-straight 100-yard rushing game, and those have come against: BAMA, Nebraska, Clemson and S. Carolina. Power teams in the: SEC West, Big 10, ACC and SEC East. He is the best player in football, not Clowney.

Magical day for Murray, too, as he completed 74% with 309 yards and four touchdowns, while getting his second ever victory over a top 10 team and only fourth over a ranked team. His senior campaign starts 1-1 and 1-0 in conference, while UGA gets the crucial divisional win. BYE to practice hard and then the North Texas Mean Green travel from Denton, Texas to Athens. Then…

LSU. Mettenberger. Great wideouts. Stable of runners. Strong defense, of course. Three weeks.

The Border Bash is behind us, and we are 1-0 in the East. We haven’t said that in four years. Spurrier is sub .500 against GEORGIA at South Carolina. Their little run is done. Ours???

Twitter: @hanvance

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Radio with Simulcast: http://www.thesportsjoc.com – I will be on the last hour of The Sports Joc Show with Wayne Gandy on Mondays (9a-noon EST), and Gandy and I now have a new spinoff show: The Sports Joc College Football Pre-View Show is every Friday from 9a-10a and is a solid radio hour of SEC football banter.