Bring on the Alabama State Schools
Florida sits atop the SEC East at the end of their SEC season, but it is not where they wanted to be. Georgia alum Will Muschamp led them to a one-loss season, but that loss was to the tiebreaker-owning Bulldogs, behind in the standings with a loss yet with a game to play. Georgia beats winless-in-the-SEC Auburn in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry Saturday night on the plains, at the jungle, and the ticket to Atlanta is stamped.
Last year in the Georgia Dome, the Dawgs opened the season with a minor beat down by excellent mid-major program Boise State and ended the year with a major second half beat down by elite SEC program Louisiana State. LSU won’t be back, after the Gators dumped them in the swamp and BAMA outlasted them on the bayou.
Georgia alum Kirby Smart lost a remarkable amount of NFL talent from his national championship defense at BAMA, but he has coached a mostly new defense to an undefeated season so far. Starting the year, Michigan was supposed to be good – they aren’t. Arkansas was supposed to be good – they aren’t. Through half the season, Mississippi State appeared to be a West contender. Two weeks and two blowouts later, they have been exposed as average at best. So, Alabama had literally had no test. They were intensely tested Saturday night in Death Valley and survived, though Mettenberger mostly picked them apart and their offense was as stoned as a Honey Badger for all of the second half, save a drive for the ages to win.
GEORGIA actually matches up nicely with (#1) Alabama. We have a big play defense which all the top scouts regard as having the most NFL talent in the country. Our passing offense is dynamically explosive – something BAMA has not faced all season – and our running game is led by beast Todd Gurley. He went for well over 100 again and was the only player all season to go for 100+ against Florida, even as they stacked the line with Murray in a funk.
Murray in a deep funk: now that could get us beat by BAMA. His composure under duress and the overall coaching will be the keys to the SEC championship game. But this is not BAMA week. This is not redemption time. This is time to dominate an inferior opponent, as we did Saturday Between the Hedges. Ole Miss was game and got up 10-0, before trailing 14-10 after a last gasp pass from Murray to TK at the end of the first half. Georgia would never look back as the game became a route dominated by Murray spreading the ball to many pass catchers.
For the first time ever, a pair of Georgia Bulldog brothers had consecutive scores. Stellar backup fullback Zander Ogletree ran one in, and then his non-identical twin Alec Ogletree scored a safety. It was the linebacker’s best all around game this abbreviated season, as he finally appears to have hit full stride several games after a lengthy suspension.
In the statistically closest series in college football history, Auburn has beaten Georgia only once in the last more than half dozen years, and that was with a national championship team led by what should have been an ineligible player. The last time Auburn won without “$CAM” Newton was DJ Shockley’s lone starting season – his only regular season loss as a starter at Georgia, to a very good Auburn team. Aubies’ single win before that featured Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown and a great team that went undefeated. Point being, this is not a good Auburn team. This is their worst, playing one of our best. A loss this season would be unforgivable. Auburn and Georgia began play in Piedmont Park, which is fitting as this game sends the Dawgs back to Atlanta…for redemption and an SEC championship.
In between the Alabama state school games, Georgia hosts the Peach state schools: Much like Ole Miss, Georgia Southern provides a great tailgating peer in the Classic City. They are the top FCS program in the country and may put up big numbers Between the Hedges with their virtually flawless triple option. Great practice for the next week, when a weaker than average GA Tech team visits with the same offense.
Georgia’s talent, as it did Saturday, should prove too much for the following three opponents. And then it is really time to shine. Georgia does not simply need to keep winning; we better get and stay rolling.