Will the 2011 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic Tell Us More About the Georgia Bulldogs or the Boise State Broncos?

So here’s what I’m wondering this morning – if Georgia walks out of the Dome on 9/3 with a win, is it going to be brushed off, much like the 2005 results were? Will a Georgia win be seen as saying more about Boise State than Georgia?

Senator Blutarsky (July 27, 2011)

The answers to the Senator’s questions, obviously, are: "Yes" and, "Yes." Actually, the answers to the Senator’s questions are: "Hell, yeah" and, "Well, duh," but we try to maintain a respectful tone around these parts.

Simply stated, the Boise St. Broncos stand to gain more by beating the Georgia Bulldogs than the Bulldogs stand to gain by beating the Broncos. This, by the way, is unbelievably, comically stupid, but that does not make it any the less so. Boise State has been demonstrably the better program in recent years, and the undeniable distinction in schedule strength attendant to playing in the SEC as opposed to the WAC does not change this fact in the slightest.

Last year, Georgia lost to the Central Florida Knights and the Colorado Buffaloes, while Boise State beat the Utah Utes and the Virginia Tech Hokies. No amount of chanting "S-E-C! S-E-C!" can change the fact that, in 2010, the Broncos wouldn’t have gone 6-7 against our schedule, and the Bulldogs wouldn’t have gone 12-1 against their schedule.

By any sensible system of measurement, Georgia, not Boise State, is the team looking to card a signature win to state its case for admission to the national elite. (Oh, all right, re-admission, but being on the outside looking in is being on the outside looking in, irrespective of whether you’ve been there before.) The fact remains, however, that, if Georgia wins, the Broncos will fall farther in the polls than the Red and Black will rise; the chant at the end of a Bulldog victory in the Dome would be, "O-ver-ra-ted!" not, "Un-der-ra-ted!"

To repeat, this makes no sense whatsoever. With a little over 625 votes cast in the poll, nearly three-fourths of Bronco fans would not consider 2011 a successful season without at least a BCS bowl berth, and more than two-fifths of the BSU faithful will be disappointed with anything less than perfection. Bulldog Nation, meanwhile, knows that, as wonderful as it would be to win on September 3, that game is nowhere near as mission-critical as the following week’s outing against the South Carolina Gamecocks; heck, the Oregon Ducks in 2009 and the Virginia Tech Hokies in 2010 both went on to win conference championships and receive BCS bowl berths after dropping season openers to Boise State.

Given the present postures of the respective programs, Georgia should get substantially more credit for beating the Broncos than they would get for defeating the ‘Dawgs, but that simply isn’t the way the situation is seen. The conventional wisdom is as undeniably silly as it is undeniably true.

That’s not to say that Georgia wouldn’t get more credit for beating Boise State in 2011 than the Red and Black received for the same feat in 2005, of course, but old habits---which is to say, old prejudices---die hard. The view of the Broncos as a bunch of plucky upstarts is mistaken, but it’s there, in the public consciousness, calling to mind the moment in "Northern Exposure" at which Chris Stevens told Maurice Minnifield that the beauty of learned behavior was that he could unlearn it.

By every reasonable standard, a win over Boise State presently means much more than it did before, and a win over Georgia doesn’t mean nearly as much as it once did. The common perception is horribly wrong, but it is the common perception, which is why the answers to Senator Blutarsky’s questions are so obvious and unmistakable . . . and, on the evening of September 3, it will be the Bulldogs’ job to reinforce as emphatically as possible the widespread misconception about the Broncos that every sensible person knows to be utterly false.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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