Ranking Georgia's Rivalries (Stating the Obvious?)

Rivalry means this makes me smile. - Sanchez - Michael Chang

Lacking any real football news to get caught up on lately, I've started browsing other teams' blogs for random history and tidbits. One of the more creative articles I've come across is from Rock M Nation. it attempts to rank rivalries based on a ratings system,with escalating points awarded in the following categories: 1) games played, 2) historical competitiveness, 3) regional proximity, and 4) the perceived national reputations of the participants. Any ratings system is somewhat arbitrary, but based on the results I think it does a pretty good job of attempting to quantify and compare rivalries against each other.

If you haven't been to Rock M Nation lately, I highly suggest you give the article a read to familiarize yourself with the ratings system--and more importantly its results. Georgia actually has 3 of the top 25 fiercest rivalries according to this system, and the number one overall. With that in mind, I took it on myself to rate each opponent Georgia has faced 30 times or more. Here are the results; in addition to the original format I've also listed if we fall into the top 3 of our opponent's rivalry lists.

Opponent Games Games Points Win % Win % Points Prestige Points Proximity Points Total Opponent's Rank of UGA
Auburn 117 14 0.505 10 3 3 33 1
Florida 91 12 0.551 8 4 3 30 1
Georgia Tech 108 13 0.610 6 2 5 29 1
Alabama 66 9 0.403 7 4 3 26 3
Tennessee 43 7 0.488 9 3 3 25 3
Clemson 63 9 0.695 5 3 3 23
LSU 30 6 0.448 7 4 1 21
Vanderbilt 74 10 0.736 4 1 3 21
South Carolina 66 9 0.734 4 2 3 21 2
UNC 30 6 0.571 7 1 3 20
Mississippi 45 7 0.727 4 2 1 17
Kentucky 67 9 0.815 2 1 1 16

For the most part, this probably doesn't tell you anything you didn't already know, but for me it's somewhat validating to see my thoughts basically quantified by a formula created by a third party. But what does this tell us specifically? For me I see three tiers of opponents divided as follows:

Tier 1: Auburn, Florida, GT

I'll call this group the "Must Play Annually" Group. It's interesting to note that for our top 3 rivals, we are the #1 most important opponent for each. Each rivalry also placed in the top 25 based nationally (13th or above, allowing for ties). In Auburn's case, our #1 status on their list is attributable to the fact that the ratings system can't take into account that their main rivalry is so fierce it wasn't played for a large portion of the 20th century. I'm also not sure whether UF fans would prefer to beat us or FSU more in any given year, but for Dawgs fans their place at the #2 spot here is reasonable. Georgia Tech is at #3 for us while we're their #1 rival--Overall not much to disagree with out of this group.

Tier 2: Alabama, Tennessee, Clemson

The "Should Play Frequently" Group. Alabama at #4 is surprisingly high given how long it's been since we played them annually, and Tennessee at #5 is also a surprise given that we've played them so infrequently in the past. What's even more unexpected is that we're the #3 rival for both of them. In either case, the fact that they're nearby traditional powers and that we've managed to keep the series competitive over time explains the placement for both. Due to the infrequency of meetings since 1992 and the historically lopsided nature of the series Clemson slides in at #6 just below UT and 'Bama.

Tier 3: LSU, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, UNC, Kentucky

The "Oh, Are They on the Schedule this Year? That's Good" Group. For one reason or another these are the schools that we as fans like to see Georgia play now and then, but don't necessarily care how often it happens. A school's placement here is variously attributable to infrequent historical meetings, poor national perception of the opponent, or a lopsided winning percentage in the series. The only school worth calling out here is South Carolina. Historically they are just plain bad. From this list, only Vanderbilt and Kentucky have worse records against us overall. Unfortunately for us, currently the 'Cocks are NOT bad at all. And because they were independent for so long before joining the SEC they do not have significant history with any team other than Clemson, so we are actually their #2 most important rival by far. Based on our own preferred rivalries Georgia clearly did not need yet another major rivalry to play every year, and from 2009 to 2012 they caught us flat-footed. Eventually they are likely to regress to the mean, but until that happens they must be taken seriously if for no other reason than they (and Spurrier) really hate us.

I hope you found this to be an interesting off-season distraction. Let me know if you see any issues with my math or think there are other conclusions that can be reached.


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