As I warned you might be the case last night, I am compelled by circumstances to present this week's analytical breakdown to you in somewhat truncated form. Rather than delving into the conference and national statistics (many of which already have been examined masterfully by others), I am going to borrow a page from last year's book and take a slightly different approach, providing a degree of historical perspective in lieu of my usual presentation of Too Much Information.
I won't lie to you . . . it ain't looking good for the home team. Senator Blutarsky's head picked against us, Orson Swindle picked against us (in the mainstream press, no less!), Sunday Morning Quarterback picked against us, and, as for the rest, well . . . you know the depressing details as well as I do. For the masochists among you, though, here are the deflating facts:
- The home team has won just thrice in the last 15 series meetings. The 'Dawgs have dropped six of their last seven showdowns with the Plainsmen between the hedges, where tomorrow's game is being played.
- The lower-ranked or unranked team has beaten the higher-ranked team seven times in the last eleven games.
- Georgia has not beaten Florida and Auburn in the same season since 1982.
- The Tigers have fared well against the Red and Black when led by senior quarterbacks and this is Brandon Cox's final year of collegiate eligibility.
- Senator Blutarsky pointed out that the Georgia offense is beginning to click. We have every cause for confidence that this upward trend will continue tomorrow afternoon, as the 'Dawgs have been successful at scoring points against Auburn at home in recent years. In the last eight series meetings in the Classic City, the Red and Black have scored 37, 28, 31, 34, 21, 17, 26, and 30 points. While Georgia has given up too many points in too many of those games, the offense seldom has struggled, scoring 26 or more points half a dozen times in eight home games against the Plainsmen since 1991.
- For the third time in Bulldog football history, Georgia will go into the Auburn game after having defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys earlier in the season. The 'Dawgs were 2-0 against the Tigers in the previous pair of comparable seasons (1946 and 1947), winning by an average margin of 35-3.
- As I noted previously, this is just the tenth season in Georgia football history in which the Red and Black have beaten both Alabama and Florida in the same autumn. On the previous nine such occasions (1916, 1920, 1927, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1959, and 1976), the 'Dawgs were 7-2 against the War Eagle and the Classic City Canines scored 28 or more points in five of those nine series meetings, including four of the last five. Six of the aforementioned nine Bulldog squads went on to capture a conference championship.
- Stewart Mandel picked Auburn to beat Georgia and, as we all know, Stewart Mandel is an idiot, so I'm calling that a good sign. If that doesn't sway you, Phil Steele's endorsement should.
- Finally, much has been made of the fact that Auburn will be fielding a seasoned senior quarterback and Georgia will have a sophomore lining up under center. Let's keep this in perspective, though . . . Matthew Stafford may or may not be analogous to Andy Johnson, but Brandon Cox certainly is no Pat Sullivan. Besides, didn't Tommy Tuberville tell Mark Richt after their first showdown in 2001 (since which Coach Richt is 3-2 against Coach Tuberville, by the way) that the way to win in the S.E.C. was to run the ball? Well, O.K., then; let's quit focusing on the signal-callers and turn our attention instead to . . .
Last weekend, redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno made 2007 just the eleventh season in school history in which the Bulldogs produced a 1,000-yard rusher. That feat was achieved previously by Frank Sinkwich (1941), Kevin McLee (1976), Willie McClendon (1978), Herschel Walker (1980, 1981, and 1982), Tim Worley (1988), Rodney Hampton (1989), Garrison Hearst (1992), and Musa Smith (2002).
In the last ten seasons in which the Bulldogs produced a 1,000-yard rusher, the Red and Black were 7-2-1 over their oldest rival. In those ten campaigns, the 'Dawgs scored more than 21 points five times, and allowed more than 21 points just once, in their outings against Auburn.
The Bottom Line
A common refrain often heard prior to rivalry games is, "You can throw out the records when these two teams meet." Most of the time, it isn't true; in the Georgia-Georgia Tech series, for instance, the team that enters the season-ending showdown with the better record wins well more than half the time, even though the lesser team typically makes it close.
In the Georgia-Auburn series, you really can throw out the conventional indicators. Home field advantage? Meaningless. Higher ranking? Not a reliable indicator. As Paul Westerdawg correctly observes, this game is always a gut-check between the Deep South's most ancient rivals.
This isn't about staying alive in the S.E.C. East race. This isn't about jockeying for a B.C.S. bowl bid. It isn't even about pride. It's about right versus wrong and our way of life against theirs. Although the color-coded cowboy-hat motif from old Westerns may be reversed between the hedges tomorrow---the visitors will be in white jerseys and the home team may be clad in black ones---the delineation between the good guys and the bad guys will be clear. (I hate Auburn!)
You'll be able to identify which team is which because Good will have a "G" on its helmet and Evil will have an "A" and a "U" on its helmet. Hey, nobody ever said Evil could spell.
My Prediction: Good 27, Evil 20.
Go 'Dawgs! Sic 'em! Woof, woof, woof!