Bowl Jockeying Begins
Georgia faces Louisiana at noon in Classic City:
Some headlines are truer than others, although that is factual. Here’s your big BLAWG for the Blackout Game. Should go way better than the last time we wore our darkest jerseys.
Kind of an off week and an off year in the SEC. I’m pulling for any team other than Alabama to win the national championship, as a border neighbor dominating you so much is very bad for business.
It’s not just our Georgia Bulldogs, every program in the greatest conference in the history of athletics except for Alabama has struggled this season. The team closest to the Tide in performance, as has often been the case since they broke out of their shells in 1990, is the two-loss Florida Gators. They play at LSU, in a rescheduled game, against a three-loss team, that has given up 21 or less in every game this season.
Like Hot Rod I’m rockin’ Rec Specs. See my last BLAWG post for further interpretation; I’m just giving Blankenship another ovation. My old Marietta in the house over the holidaze. We are a pretty huge GEORGIA family, with two of us brothers and one wife (mine) holding UGA degrees. Kirby must have a Christmas scholarship for you, “Blanky” dude. Just keep on kicking it through.
I have had my GEORGIA glasses on so much this year, I’ve failed to relish in the misery of our rivals enough. With the UGA glass tilting from above half full (3-0 with a big win over UNC in ATL and some resilient late game heroics), to too far below half empty (1-of-5 with no Saturday wins and a myriad of heartbreaks), to back to half full again (two straight SEC wins with the Ragin’ Cajuns rolling in). The powerhouse SEC schools we would normally be looking up at with our four losses aren’t getting it done either, folks. I actually see the talent on defenses across the league at or near peak and the offenses so far down that we, we at GEORGIA with no touchdowns in our last big game and only one in the biggest game, prior, are poised to recapture the East next year as we move on to bigger and better things. The talent will flock to block and catch for Eason while Kirby Smart, Mel Tucker, Tracy Rocker and company make NFL-ready defenders.
Either BAMA goes on probation – there are still some smoldering guns around that never came to an NCAA slow conclusion (like DJ Fluker, who I met in person, who actually not only received but deposited agent money while a team member) or evil Nick Saban retires or you can forget about passing them soon. The momentum has now been too great for too long and they have backloaded too much talent – they are so far ahead of the league. Expect a dip when either happens and the most storied program in the South (Notre Dame and USC are in contention nationally) to slip back, way way back to the pack. They were way down for years as they burned through coaches and probation periods with only one- and two-year wonder teams thrown in; they were often bad since Bear.
Until then, honestly, we would be much more realistic to aspire to be what we once were: Good. At bottom is an excerpt from my book on what was our shot at a dethronement before the Crimson dynasty grew so long-dominant no end was in view. Their backups would have as good a shot as any other team’s starters to win the SEC.
Look at this mediocrity and parity:
SEC – East:
Florida 5-2 7-2 (W1)
Tennessee 3-3 7-3 (W2)
Georgia 4-4 6-4 (W2)
Kentucky 4-4 5-5 (L2)
South Carolina 3-5 5-5 (L1)
Missouri 1-5 3-7 (W1)
Vanderbilt 1-5 4-6 (L2)
SEC – West:
Alabama 7-0 10-0 (W10)
Auburn 5-2 7-3 (L1)
LSU 4-2 6-3 (W1)
Texas A&M 4-3 7-3 (L2)
Arkansas 2-4 6-4 (L1)
Ole Miss 2-4 5-5 (W2)
Mississippi State 2-4 4-6 (L1)
So let’s remove big bad Bama from this conversation until we are good again. Then we can make another run at them. Maybe. With 5-7 teams needed to fill the overly-numerous bowl slots nationally last year and quite probably again this year, no SEC team has been eliminated from the postseason. Excepting Bama, mighty GEORGIA is currently one game off the best overall season record in the league with the exception of Florida. Should the Gators lose as projected by Vegas and the media at LSU and to their instate rivals of FSU, then just as last year Georgia could end tied for the second best overall record of all SEC teams, if we win out and you throw in a few other teams getting just one more loss. We won out last year, too. In 2015, it was 1. Alabama, 2./3. Georgia/Ole Miss (10-3) and on down. The longest win streak also belongs to, amongst others, UGA at two games.
We have the talent on hand in Athens and in this state to make a surge over the next two seasons. Eason will be the #1 overall pick the year after, and I’d hate to see his superior talent wasted, like say Stafford’s. Matthew has zero SEC rings, never played for the league title and had one total good team year while at Georgia.
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ATLANTA, GA – December 1, 2012
~ SEC Championship Game vs. Alabama
Five long and often really rough years later, for the first time during the Richt era, the SEC title – which he’d won way back in 2002 and 2005 – and the biggest prize national championship are both still in play late in a football season.
This is Richt’s fifth trip to the SEC championship game and Georgia is truly loaded: NFL talent on defense at every position, the all-time SEC great Aaron Murray finally a matured upperclassman ringleader and a true freshman beast named Todd Gurley at runner.
In back-to-back trips to the SEC championship game in Atlanta, UGA came in as underdogs. A ten-straight wins Georgia team had folded badly to LSU in the second half after stuffing them for almost the entirety of the first. Facing storied BAMA, this year’s edition of the Dawgs publicly vowed to at the very least play hard for a complete football game. The winner was not only to earn another coveted SEC crown but was intriguingly set to face resurgent Notre Dame, UGA’s 1980 title challenger and Alabama’s primary competition for the single greatest college football program in history.
A big part of us is still there, in that Georgia Dome turf, so close and yet so far. The Dawgs played ahead through much of the hard-fought game and were forced to rally after Alabama took a late lead behind power running and a bomb.
Ball on the 43-yard line, and in one of his biggest passes at Georgia, Murray is in shotgun where he sees Tavarres King near the 35 and drills a strike to him between two defenders, King getting hit hard and hurt by C.J. Mosley on the play.
Murray in gun again and his best friend on the team Arthur Lynch on a deep tight end cross, dragging a guy to the 12-yard line.
No timeouts and 15 seconds left in the SEC season. If needed, two passes to the end zone upcoming. Georgia runs to the line but does not ground it, instead snapping with 9 seconds left: opting for a hurry-up throw to the front right corner of the end zone, where Malcolm Mitchell had the angle on a DB for an outside shoulder completion, similar to the one he made earlier in the year to beat Florida.
Instead, the ball was barely fingertip tipped (Mosley, again) and redirected shorter and directly to our wide out Chris Conley who went down at the 4. Alabama D.C. Kirby Smart was seen immediately celebrating with his guys on the field after the clock expired on the SEC season and Richt’s best shot at a national title.
Georgia fell just four yards short of eternal glory… It’s total heartbreak.