Rivalries Records Matter

A 5-4 team is set to host the #9 team in America Saturday at 3:30p in the Classic City, one day after my new book “Richt Era: 15 Years in Athens” debuts there (this FRI 6:30-7:30p at Avid Bookshop on Prince Avenue, right near downtown).

Georgia-Auburn is the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, first played in Piedmont Park of Atlanta in 1898. Underdog GEORGIA has a one-game series lead and has won 8-of-10, their only wins over the last decade coming by Auburn teams which played in the national championship game (where they went 1-1, losing after the Prayer at Jordan-Hare and winning with prepaid QB $CAM).

Pettway, their big bull running back, came up gimpy in their close win over Vandy this last Saturday creating a greater opportunity for UGA to have a shot at victory, if he can’t go at all or is ineffective. They have plenty of other weapons on offense, including the most accurate passer in the SEC and their usual versatile misdirection running game, but he had led them to a string of impressive victories by carrying the load. I don’t expect us to have that much luck between the tackles because they have Montravious Adams and Carl Lawson up front, but with us getting Sony Michel in space we have a shot at running. And the first year players trio of Eason, Nauta and (6′ 4″) Wims (JUCO transfer) gives us a great shot throwing the ball. Another key freshman, Ridley, could be healthy after an ankle injury versus Florida – he was our best offensive player in that game. And we should throw it to Michel.

Kirby is now 5-4 overall, with what was then a win over the (very briefly) first place team in the SEC East, after Florida lost badly to Arkansas. The East has faired horridly against the West, with Georgia falling 45-14 to one of the two last place teams on that side of the league in our only blowout loss of 2016. The East division on the road has been the sweet spot for our struggling new head coach, going 3-0. He is also 2-0 out of conference which is nice, compared to 1-1 in neutral site games, 0-2 versus the other top programs in the East (Florida and Tennessee), 0-2 in SEC home games and SEC East home games, 3-3 versus the SEC East, 0-1 versus the SEC West, just 3-4 in what is currently being called a down SEC by the national media.

The traditional 3 rivals (Florida/Auburn/Tech) have been the mark of many a UGA coach. He has a real chance to get the light on in the program with a huge win Between the Hedges. Go to 1-1 in rivalries, then get to 3-0 out of conference, and then 4-0 hosting Tech, 2-1 in the traditional rivalries with a winning streak going. But this game is key. A home winning streak could be started, which springboards us up.