First of all, let me state for the record that I believe Georgia will win on Saturday in Jacksonville. That has long been my position, and I've no reason to stray from it at this point. Second, let me state that I hate Florida. I hate Florida. What follows is not meant to question my firmly-held belief in an upcoming victory by the Red and Black. Rather, this is a realistic assessment and acknowledgment of what has been circulating through my neural pathways for the last
2 3 weeks.
Come on, be honest... you've been thinking it, too. It's been swirling around in the back of your mind for days, or maybe weeks, if not months now.
What if Florida crushes the Dawgs in Jacksonville again? In spite of all the circumstantial factors that tilt in the Dawgs' favor... the long Mississippi road trip for Florida, the off-week for Georgia, the Dawgs' 7-1 record against defending national champions since 1965, Florida's recent spate of absent offense... what if, in spite of all this, Florida comes waltzing into Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and waltzes out with a 56-3 victory?
In my view, Georgia finds themselves on a very dangerous precipice this weekend. I deign to use political analogies in a football post, but it's not unlike the precipice on which the Democratic Party found themselves in October, 2004. At that time, the Republican Party had maintained control of both houses of Congress for over a decade, and one of the most unpopular Presidents in modern history not only defeated the Democratic candidate with relative ease, but they also picked up seats in both the House and the Senate. People were asking, with incredible sincerity, "Is this the beginning of the end of the Democratic Party?"
As we know, the Democrats turned it around pretty quickly, and a short 5 years later, the Republicans will be finding themselves faced with the same questions if the elections 12 months hence do not turn out well for them. The Democrats found themselves upon a precipice, and instead of falling/jumping off the ledge, they found a way to change, reformulate something about what they were doing, and used it as an opportunity to get both new and old talent to step up to greater things. (Whether you agree with their political views is not the point... simply the situational similarity. Personally, I dislike both of 'em.) What if instead of sweeping the 2006 elections, however, the Democrats found a way to lose further ground? What would have happened then?
Georgia finds themselves in much the same situation in Jacksonville on Saturday. Kyle has mentioned many times the multi-year cycles in this rivalry, which Georgia is inevitably poised to flip back in their direction. (A position, by the way, that I agree with.) The question must be asked, however... what if they don't? What if, instead of showing up and playing an inspired game, they turn the ball over 7 times, get burned over and over by Tim Tebow's newly-found ability to complete a pass over 10 yards, and end up losing by 30+?
My friends, we in the Bulldog Nation do not want to contemplate the horror, angst, and (mostly proverbial) bloodshed associated with an era that such a beatdown could usher in. To be fair, we've already been living part of it in 2002, 2003, and 2005, when Georgia clearly had better teams than the Gators, but still came out on the short end. To fail at this point to even compete successfully against a rival that is practically begging to be knocked from its lofty perch, however, sets a very dangerous precedent that will be more difficult to overcome psychologically than any of us now want to admit.
Don't get me wrong... I am not calling for any coaches to be fired (in this post). I'm not saying that the sky is falling and that the program is an embarrassment (which it most certainly is not). All I'm saying is that if we lose ugly this weekend... you might just want to avoid the entire state of Florida for a few years.