The Big Four
For the first time in his mostly successful eleven-year head coaching career at the nation’s oldest state chartered public university, Mark Richt was able to do what Jim Donnan and Ray Goff never could: beat our four biggest rivals in the same season. Richt’s best team went 13-1 but lost to Florida in a flukey game before finishing #3. Richt’s two-loss team which finished #2 dropped a game to S. Carolina (not big four) and was blown out in the first half at Tennessee, before winning out big behind undeniably dominant running by Moreno.
Ranking the rivalries:
1. Florida – Two down years for the swamp people, especially last season offensively, netted UGA an overtime loss and a hard-nosed win. Georgia has not beaten Florida in back-to-back seasons since Vince Dooley beat them regularly in the 1980s. Blame it on me if you like, as I enrolled at UGA in 1990, but since then we have been garbage in the Cocktail Party, the laughingstocks of Jacksonville. What was always “GEORGIA-FLORIDA” has suddenly been identified nationally as The Florida-Georgia Game, though UGA has never had a losing record versus UF in American college football; that’s how bad we have been. Goff: 0; Donnan: 1, Richt: 3. Pretty easy to graph that and see UGA has gone oh so slowly in the right direction. Last year was a bigger breakthrough than it should have been in a win over a team that barely cracked .500. This is the year Georgia can turn the rivalry. This game is our annual big media moment as a program, and we must win. Georgia simply can not lose in Jacksonville and be truly relevant.
2. Tech – Georgia has beaten GA Tech ten-of-eleven times and runs the state. If the rivalry does not ring for you, that is simply a product of UGA’s dominance. When Tech beat Georgia over three straight seasons, the reality of the rivalry was evident. When I sat on the front row of the 50-yard line in Midtown and watched freshmen David Greene and Fred Gibson win the state for Richt in his first campaign, the ice shower from the geeks was invigorating.
3. Auburn – The oldest football rivalry in the Deep South was first played in Piedmont Park of Atlanta. The Dawgs have won five-of-six in the close series and would be undefeated save the creative accounting eligibility of Cam Newton. They wanted at least $100,000 for him to play at Miss State, but he went to Aubie for free???
4. Tennessee – Rocky Top you will never be, the school for me. I lived in the Great Smoky Mountains a summer in middle school and liked it so much that UT was on my short list until my sophomore year of high school…when I visited the Classic City for a big frat party. The Vols have been bad for four years, but they will not stay down.
A. Georgia and Clemson are S. Carolina’s two biggest rivals, though Carolina is not near the top of our list of biggest rivals. Until lately. They have beaten us twice consecutively and are considered our stiffest competition for a repeat SEC East title after winning a school record eleven games.
B. Georgia and LSU have played for the SEC title three times with LSU taking two. Overall, Georgia has won three-of-five versus the Bayou Bengals and it would be four-of-five if SEC officials had not blown the whistle for a phantom call on AJ Green in Athens, which, and I quote the SEC, “Cost Georgia the game.” Georgia completely stuffed LSU for a half while developing a blueprint BAMA orchestrated to defeat LSU, but that 2nd half in ATL was ugly.
C. Georgia has beaten BAMA three-of-four but was back in black and preseason #1 when Bama started the game 31-0 (41-30 final) and went on a roll that netted two national championships, though surprisingly only one SEC West championship.
D. Clemson is Georgia’s nearest geographic rival, back on the schedule in 2013.