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Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 17

What are we to make of yesterday's Georgia victory at historic Grant Field? The details seem almost superfluous, as it was, in most respects, exactly what we have come to expect from a showdown between the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech, as usual, brought tenacity, intensity, and a solid defensive effort. Georgia, as usual, went through patches of performing well below the Red and Black's ability, keeping the contest closer than it ought to have been. The officiating, as usual, was better than the Ramblin' Wreck partisans would have you believe and any complaints about the zebras in 2007 (unlike any postgame grousing that followed, say, the 1998 and 1999 contests) are entirely misplaced, as the outcome was not altered by any of their calls, which fairly well evened out over the course of the contest, anyway.

Willie Martinez's defense, as usual, stepped up in the second half, shut down the opposition after intermission, and allowed no more than 17 points. The Bulldog offense, as usual, overcame adversity and made plays when they mattered most. Mark Richt, as usual, was kind to Chan Gailey during the postgame handshake, kindly offering to purchase a life insurance policy from the Chan-Man as soon as he begins his new career.

In short, it was an ordinary Georgia-Georgia Tech game in almost every respect, with the only exceptions being (a) a division of the boneheaded and inept Golden Tornado quarterbacking duties among several signal callers rather than having them performed solely by Reggie Ball and (b) the decision by the 'Dawgs to put the game away relatively early rather than cruelly waiting until the last minute to crush the hopes of the Georgia Tech faithful. Honestly, Ramblin' Wreck fans ought to thank us for our generosity in this respect, but, then again, there was no point yesterday at which any fan of either team really thought the Yellow Jackets were winning that game . . . was there?

Even this little twerp knew Georgia Tech wasn't getting out of there with a win.

Unlike many denizens of Bulldog Nation, I take no particular joy in beating Georgia Tech. My reaction after a win over our in-state rivals---and, in 39 years of life on this planet, I have seen the Red and Black beat the Old Gold and Navy 29 times---is one of relief, not celebration. There is no pleasure to be had in beating your kid brother in a pickup game of basketball in the driveway; there is only the slightest sense of satisfaction to be had in the knowledge that you're not going to have to listen to a bunch of crap from someone who has been a loser so long that he becomes the sorest possible winner when he occasionally emerges victorious because winning is such an unfamiliar feeling that he has no idea how to respond to it.

Winston Churchill taught us the proper formula for use in such instances: "In victory, magnanimity." Let us, therefore, commend Georgia Tech on giving Georgia a good game---which the Yellow Jackets did, for a good bit of the game---and shift our focus to matters of greater importance than beating a team that has not beaten the Bulldogs honestly since at least 1990.

Paul Westerdawg is all over the Georgia B.C.S. scenarios, which is where our attention ought to be. The Bulldogs will not be making the return trip to Atlanta next weekend, due largely to the fact that not one of the three teams in the bottom half of the S.E.C. East is capable of kicking a dadgum game-winning field goal against a Tennessee team that seems determined to give away a victory any way it can against teams that refuse to take advantage of the Vols' largesse.

Where does that leave us? The 'Dawgs are 10-2, have beaten their three biggest rivals in the same season for the first time in a quarter of a century, have a better shot at a national championship than at a conference crown, and are in a prime position to attend a major bowl game to which Georgia has not been invited in my lifetime. This raises a simple yet significant question:

Where does 2007 rank among the best seasons in Georgia history not to have produced a conference championship?

Yeah, that's one of the other ones.

In my mind, the best seasons in which the Bulldogs did not win a league title were 1927 (9-1), 1941 (9-1-1), 1945 (9-2), 1971 (11-1), 1983 (10-1-1), 1992 (10-2), 1997 (10-2), and 2004 (10-2).

In terms of rivalry games, this year's campaign has been superior to six of those eight seasons: Georgia beat Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech in 2007, but the Bulldogs lost to the Yellow Jackets in 1927, to the Gators in 1992, and to the Plainsmen in 1971, 1983, 1997, and 2004. (I hate Auburn.) Since each of those losses cost the 'Dawgs a shot at a conference or national championship and blemished the Red and Black's record against one of Bulldog Nation's three most reviled rivals, those seasons clearly cannot be considered superior to this one.

That just leaves the 1941 and 1945 seasons as campaigns of comparable quality to 2007. In each of those years, the Classic City Canines lost to the Crimson Tide in the Yellowhammer State; since Georgia beat 'Bama in Tuscaloosa earlier this autumn, the current season is superior to those at least in this respect.

In 1941, though, the Alabama game was Georgia's only loss, although the Bulldogs were tied by Ole Miss in a night game in Athens. This paved the way to the first postseason appearance ever for the Red and Black, a New Year's Day victory over Texas Christian in the Orange Bowl.

This may have been before the Horned Frogs adopted their freakish-looking sideline mascot.

In 1945, as in 2007, the Classic City Canines lost twice, absorbing a drubbing from an S.E.C. opponent: Georgia's 32-0 loss to L.S.U. in the first postwar campaign was comparable to the shellacking the Red and Black received from the Volunteers this year. That season ended with convincing victories over Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech, culminating in an Oil Bowl win.

If the 2007 campaign is capped off by a win in a B.C.S. bowl game, this season will rank alongside the 1941 and 1945 campaigns as the best ever posted by the Bulldogs in a season in which Georgia did not win a conference crown.

For what it's worth, in the years after those outstanding seasons, the 'Dawgs achieved even greater heights. Captained by Frank Sinkwich, the 1942 Georgia squad went 11-1, won the Rose Bowl, and captured the S.E.C. and national championships. Captained by Charley Trippi, the 1946 Georgia squad went 11-0, won the Sugar Bowl, and captured the S.E.C. and national championships.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty good about 2008.

Go 'Dawgs!