Florida fans can still wake up tomorrow and point to the rankings and point out that Georgia, too, is on the verge of the top five nationally in total defense, barely distinguishable on paper from Alabama and/or LSU. November might even back that up, with Georgia streaking toward winnable games against New Mexico State, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia Tech and a real opportunity to finish off a 10-game win streak out of the desperation of an 0-2 start.
once a GATOR always a GATOR I loved everything the U of florida gave me
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.
Mark Richt's record against Florida will fall to 2-8. But Georgia will ultimately return to the 10-win club and finish the season as one of the conference's hottest teams, using an impressive Jan. 1 win as a springboard to becoming a chic pick to knock off the loaded Gators in 2011.
From the outside, the minor existential crisis at Georgia over last year's descent to 8-5 is a classic in the genre of spoiled overreaction: After six 10-win season, five top-10 finishes and two SEC championships, coach Mark Richt has obviously earned a mulligan. On paper, in terms of money, recruiting and wins over any significant portion of the last decade, the Bulldogs are still clearly among the league's elite.
But you can't really blame UGA fans for feeling like blowouts at the hands of East Division rivals Florida and Tennessee (in a down year for Tennessee, no less) in between losses to Oklahoma State and Kentucky was less of a mulligan than the beginning of the bottom falling out. Since Urban Meyer's Florida Death Star became fully operational in 2006, there seem to have been a lot of little mulligans. There was the disappointing 4-4 start that year with a rebuilding lineup led by a true freshman quarterback, followed by the lackluster start over the first half of 2007. And even after an emerging group of young stars tore through the second half of that season en route to a No. 2 finish in the final polls, they failed to capitalize on that potential with three ugly loses in their three biggest games – against Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech – after opening the season atop the mainstream polls in 2008.
If you've been strapped in for the long run, then, last year was only worst in a series of disappointments . . .
I'm among the overwhelming majority still conceding frontrunner status to Florida for the division crown, only because there is no obviously compelling reason to overturn the status quo. On paper, though, Georgia can answer the Gators points for point; with hyped new quarterbacks, solid backfields, intact offensive lines and new coordinators revamping defenses with vulnerable secondaries, they're almost mirror images of one another. Florida may get the benefit of the doubt by virtue of its ongoing status as division overlord (three division titles, two BCS titles in the last four years) and its total ownership of the series over the last 20 years. But there is too much talent on hand for Grantham to not get the defense headed back in the right direction, and it won't be an upset by any means to see the Bulldogs back in Atlanta on Dec. 4. UGA fans shouldn't be satisfied with less than a January bowl and a legitimate claim on the frontrunner role with another veteran lineup going into 2011.
That he is on the hotseat out at Georgia says something about the irrationality of Bulldog fans. Personally, I hope the Hogs make his seat even hotter with an early season win in Athens. It has been about 18 years or so since the Hogs beat the Dogs, so one would think we are due. (I thought that last year too.) With that said, I think the SEC and Georgia would be losing a good coach in Richt if he were to be fired at the end of the year. His bowl, SEC Championship game, and on the road records are something that any Hog fan would envy. But I guess it is sorta like it was with us and Houston; others outside a program never quite see a coach in the same light as the program's fans. One other note, as evidence Georgia's ugly black helmets in Jacksonville last year, Richt doesn't have a spot on Project Runway if they indeed do run him out of Athens. Not that he is counting on one.
What in the name of all that is holy happened to Georgia? I know it was supposed to be a slight rebuilding year and all, but -- wow. The Dawgs have now lost nine consecutive games to teams not named "Siena," by a combined score of 111-25. It's almost like every day is the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Somebody get the Mayor some Zoloft or something. Not to take anything away from Auburn, which obviously starts out league play with a sweep against what has been one of the SEC's name brands in baseball. But this is not that Georgia, or at least it hasn't been so far this year. Neither team can play defense, especially where it's most important -- they combined for 11 errors; five of Georgia's six came from its middle infield, as did four of Auburn's five. In any case, Auburn's offense is either a force of nature, or Georgia's pitching is a natural disaster -- or a little of both. I would place my money on one of the latter two.
Unfortunately for UGA, they just couldn't piece them all together in the right way to maximize the talent at hand. I don't know enough about the internals of the program to list out the causes for sure, but usually that's a sign of bad coaching. Whatever the staff there had been doing for success earlier this decade has gone stale. It's a Sunday-through-Friday problem that's plaguing Georgia, and dressing up like Southern Miss for a day wasn't going to solve it.