He's a great coach, he's the best thing that's happened to this program since Vince Dooley. We've just gotta go out there and play ball this year. We've still got goals we want to achieve. We want to go to the SEC, I mean we went last year but we want to win. We want to go to Miami, for the national championship.
It's one kind of satisfaction for Bulldog fans to watch an embattled lineup come together; it's another when that lineup is so young. UGA has far too much at stake next Saturday — an SEC championship, a BCS bowl, an 11 or 12-win season — to start looking ahead to 2012. But you can practically hear the preseason hype over the returning stars from here. That includes the best quarterback in the conference, sophomore Aaron Murray. It includes the most productive freshman rusher (Isaiah Crowell) and receiver (Malcolm Mitchell) in the league, and the most productive tight end (Orson Charles). It includes nine returning starters from a top-five defense, at least one of whom (Jarvis Jones) will dominate All-America teams and mock drafts. Where everyone had been fearing a depressing end, reality delivered a promising beginning.
Of course, it's a bit presumptive to skip ahead nine months, or even to describe the streak as "finished" when Georgia has a perfectly valid upset bid on deck against the undisputed overlord of every ballot in every poll, LSU. The Bulldogs aren't pulling into Atlanta thinking, "Well, at least our moral victory is secure." But really, it is: In the same way that next weekend is redundant in terms of reinforcing the Tigers' season-long dominance, Georgia doesn't need an inspired, down-to-the-wire effort to open anyone's eyes to how far it's come since September, or how close it is to a breakthrough. Anyone who hasn't noticed by now just hasn't been paying attention.
Georgia is next. I've watched them play three times. Twice they looked terrible but won anyway against Kentucky and Florida. Once they looked dominant in beating Auburn. I hate to be cocky, but I don't think Georgia has anything for us. Aaron Murray has thrown a lot of touchdown passes (and interceptions) this year, and their defense has gotten a good reputation, but this team looked dysfunctional offensively most of the times I've seen them play. . . .
Seriously, your big announcement that you're going to the SEC Championship Game is beating Kentucky 19-10?
Georgia (+30.5) over Kentucky 52-10
I was going to pick UK to cover up until I sat down to write this picks post, actually. I thought UGA was going to take it easy and coast to the win. However it occurred to me that with the SEC East title officially theirs with a victory, the Bulldogs are probably going to make this about as emphatic as possible. It's been six years since their last division title, and with this game being in Athens, it's going to be a three-hour party.
In the last three years, Georgia has gone 16-8 in SEC play, behind only Florida and Alabama (20-4 each). In the last five years, Georgia has gone 26-14 in SEC play, behind only Florida (32-8), Alabama (28-12), and LSU (27-13). In the last ten years, Georgia has gone 55-25 in SEC play, behind only Florida (61-19) and tied with LSU.
In the last nine years, the SEC East has been represented in the conference championship game by Georgia three times, by Florida three times, and by Tennessee three times. In the last eight years, Georgia has won two SEC championships, Florida has won two SEC championships, LSU has won two SEC championships, and Alabama and Auburn have won one SEC championship apiece.
As Year2 demonstrated in the above posting, the Gators unquestionably have been the alpha dog of the SEC East since the divisional split in 1992, but the Bulldogs just as unmistakably have taken on in the 2000s the role Tennessee occupied during the 1990s; namely, that of chief challenger to Orange and Blue hegemony.
Georgia’s 3-17 record against Florida since 1990 tells no lies; more of those losses were blowouts than nailbiters, and a late time out in Jacksonville in 1993 represents the only even arguably controversial finish in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party since Steve Spurrier returned home to Gainesville. However, the Red and Black’s consistently solid overall performance and ability to match division crowns and league titles with anyone in the 21st century demonstrate how wrong it is to argue that the ’Dawgs have fewer good days on the field in the fall than their SEC coevals.
If Atlanta is dumb enough to be a part of building an open air stadium without a retractable roof, then the champagne corks will start popping in Birmingham. Because you can bet that they’ll figure out a way to build a ball park to get the SEC championship football game to come back (the first two games were played in Birmingham in 1992 and 1993). And you can bet that New Orleans would be putting together a bid and sprucing up the Superdome. A big part of what has made the SEC championship game one of the great success stories in sport is that weather is not a factor. Weather has been a factor for the Big 12 and the ACC and the results on those championship games has been mixed at best. The SEC, in my opinion, will not play this game in an open air stadium.
Another defining symbol of the Tebow Era: Demonstrative cheerleading. Given the reality, the exhortation played out like parody.