If you’re looking for a meaningful preview of tomorrow’s game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks, you have plenty of options; what you’ll get here, by contrast, are historical minutiae and statistical correlations of questionable validity. Be forewarned, however, that, when I undertake to provide you with a preview, I don’t just give you a little information, or even the right amount of information. Instead, I bring you . . . Too Much Information.
Excluding autumns in which the Bulldogs have opened their season against the Gamecocks, Georgia has come into the South Carolina game with an undefeated record on 36 previous occasions. The ‘Dawgs are 28-8 against the ‘Cocks when the Red and Black enter with an unblemished ledger, and that record includes a 13-5 mark against the Palmetto State Poultry in Columbia. This will be the 21st season in which Georgia carries a 1-0 record into a game with South Carolina, and the Athenians emerged victorious on 17 of the previous 20 such occasions.
Saturday’s SEC showdown in Williams-Brice Stadium will be the 63rd series meeting between the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks. Georgia led the first nine series meetings 7-2 between 1894 and 1920, led the next nine series meetings 7-2 between 1924 and 1960, led the next nine series meetings 7-0-2 between 1961 and 1970, led the next nine series meetings 7-2 between 1971 and 1981, led the next nine series meetings 6-3 between 1982 and 1992, and led the next nine series meetings 5-4 between 1993 and 2001. The ‘Dawgs have gone 7-1 in their eight meetings with the ‘Cocks since 2002; a win by the visitors tomorrow would give Georgia the elusive eighth win for the current nine-game stretch.
As I noted in last week’s edition of Too Much Information, four freshman quarterbacks have started most of a season for Georgia since eligibility for first-year collegians was restored in the early 1970s: Eric Zeier in 1991, Quincy Carter in 1998, David Greene in 2001, and Matthew Stafford in 2006. Zeier did not face the Garnet and Black in his freshman campaign, but the other three did, and here is what each accomplished against South Carolina:
- Carter, 1998: 9 of 18, 133 yds., 0 TD, 1 int., 17-3 W in Columbia
- Greene, 2001: 21 of 33, 169 yds., 0 TD, 1 int., 14-9 L in Athens
- Stafford, 2006: 8 of 19, 171 yds. 0 TD, 3 int., 18-0 W in Columbia
There are some remarkably consistent elements in those three performances. All three QBs threw for a yardage total between the low 130s and the low 170s; all three threw at least one pick; none of the three threw so much as a single touchdown pass. While it is encouraging that freshman Georgia quarterbacks are 2-0 against South Carolina in Columbia in modern Bulldog history, it is disturbing that the lone loss came with the redshirt freshman whom Aaron Murray most resembles in a game that featured the same heavy reliance on the forward pass that the Gamecock defense almost assuredly will force the Red and Black to adopt.
I am a firm believer that, when you expect the worst, your only options are to be proven correct or pleasantly surprised. Consequently, I last year instituted a statistical measure known as the feel bad stat of the week, which is sort of like the misery index. The feel bad stat of the week replaced the feel good stat of the week because the last three years have given Bulldog Nation little about which to feel good, and this week has been no exception.
Since losing to South Carolina in 2007, Georgia has defeated the Gamecocks in consecutive series meetings by scores of 14-7 in 2008 and 41-37 in 2009. Another close contest is expected this weekend, and that is bad news for the Bulldogs, for this reason:
Although Georgia has won 46 of the Red and Black’s 62 series meetings with South Carolina and has reeled off winning streaks of three games or longer on seven separate occasions in the history of the rivalry, the ‘Dawgs have never won three straight outings against the Gamecocks which were decided by margins of seven or fewer points. The Athenians have beaten the Columbians three or more times consecutively when at least one of those victories was by more than one score, but a blowout is unlikely this weekend, and it would be unprecedented for the Bulldogs to emerge triumphant from three nailbiters in a row over the Palmetto State Poultry.
I don’t want to overstate the case, but the last three years of being a Georgia fan have left me more or less convinced that disappointment is inevitable, it’s always brightest before the gloom, doom lurks around every corner waiting to smash you in the face with a baseball bat the instant you start to think anything might improve even incrementally, all hope should be abandoned, and the mere fact that you have hit rock bottom doesn’t mean you can’t still make lateral moves.
I thought we were losing this game back when I thought we were going to have all the guys we would need to have to be able to win this game. Take a look back at the 2009 season and ask yourself how many of the Bulldogs’ eight wins would have been losses if A.J. Green had been suspended for those contests. I didn’t see it happening before, and I certainly don’t see it happening now.
Nice guys finish last. Steve Spurrier is mean. Therefore, his team will win.
My Prediction: South Carolina 17, Georgia 13.