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The Toughest Games on Georgia's 2007 Schedule

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The Power T's Doug Coffin recently ranked his team's games from toughest to easiest. While doing so, Doug expressed his hope that "some prominent bloggers would step up and do this for their teams."

I'm not sure Dawg Sports qualifies as a prominent weblog, but Doug did single out this site as one he would like to see participate, so, for your Independence Day reading pleasure, here are . . .

Georgia's Toughest Games in 2007 From Top to Bottom:

1. Auburn on November 10:

This will always qualify as the toughest outing of the autumn in my eyes. The Bulldogs have lost to the Plainsmen 53 times in the Deep South's oldest rivalry, with 18 of those losses coming in the 27 series meetings played in the Classic City. The Red and Black have beaten the Orange and Blue just once in Sanford Stadium since 1991 and this game always makes me nervous as all get-out, especially when the Tigers get the Bulldogs right where they want them . . . in Athens.

I hate Auburn.

2. Oklahoma State on September 1:

It's the first game of the season against an offensively explosive up-and-coming B.C.S. conference team with loads of speed and a full recognition of its opportunity to post a statement win for a program that is going places. Bobby Reid is far too gifted and poised a quarterback to get as rattled as Jared Zabransky did in Georgia's last serious season opener and the presence of an unfamiliar yet very legitimate opponent at the outset of the Bulldogs' slate means that the Red and Black will not be given the luxury of having adequate time to gel. Oklahoma State is West Virginia with a balanced offense, a decidedly dangerous team that the Red and Black overlook only at their own peril. With Auburn, familiarity has bred contempt; the Cowboys, by contrast, carry the fear of the unknown and the 'Dawgs had better be ready, because the Pokes sure as shootin' will be.

3. at Tennessee on October 6:

Yes, I know that Mark Richt has won three in a row at Neyland Stadium, but Knoxville always is a tough place to play. Both coaches need this victory; a Tennessee loss could turn up the heat on Phillip Fulmer's seat and a Georgia loss could signal a shift in the balance of power in the S.E.C. East, giving the Volunteers three wins in the previous four series meetings. Winning on the road against a good team in a division rivalry always represents a challenge.

4. at Alabama on September 22:

The prospect of playing at Tuscaloosa invariably is daunting for Georgia, which has had little luck historically against the Crimson Tide and enjoyed absolutely no success against the Red Elephants on the University of Alabama campus. 'Bama ranked as low as fourth for two reasons: Mark Richt and Nick Saban. Coach Richt is the only man ever to have guided Georgia to victory in Tuscaloosa and Coach Saban, while he undoubtedly will turn the Tide around soon, will have a tough time righting the ship ere the first month of the season ends. I believe the 2003 S.E.C. championship game made its mark on Coach Richt as assuredly as the 1966 Cocktail Party left an indelible imprint on Steve Spurrier and, consequently, Coach Richt's focus will be entirely upon defeating the Armani Bear.

Not only is Nick Saban an excellent coach with a national championship to his credit, he also does a heck of a Geordi La Forge impersonation!

5. at Georgia Tech on November 24:

The fact that it's at Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field is of no consequence, as home field advantage is insignificant in this series. (Since the Yellow Jackets' eight-game series winning streak from 1949 to 1956, Georgia has gone 18-7 against the Ramblin' Wreck in Atlanta and 18-7 against the Golden Tornado in Athens.) Georgia Tech figures to be significantly better this season and there is no game on the schedule the Jackets would rather win than this one. The fellows from The Flats have played the Bulldogs tough in each of the last three seasons and, with Reggie Ball gone, the Golden Tornado simply has to know that this is Georgia Tech's best shot at Georgia in years and likely its best for years to come.

6. South Carolina on September 8:

This game worries me a bit more than its placement suggests, which attests to the toughness of Georgia's 2007 slate. I am nervous about this contest because it falls so early on the schedule, but I am comforted by the fact that it is being played in Athens. Despite the closeness of the 2005 contest, the Bulldogs have tended to fare considerably better against the Gamecocks at home. The Classic City Canines are 25-6 against the Palmetto State Poultry within the confines of Clarke County, while Georgia has been held to 20 or fewer points on each of its last six trips to Columbia. I'm fretting over this one, but I'm fretting less with the game in Sanford Stadium.

7. Florida at Jacksonville on October 27:

The Gators have nowhere to go but down. All trends eventually end, as evidenced by the fact that Florida's 15-2 run over Georgia from 1990 to 2006 was preceded by the Red and Black's 15-4 run over the Orange and Blue from 1971 to 1989. With U.F. rebuilding its national championship-winning defense and Georgia blessed with an October 20 open date, the 'Dawgs will do what they have done consistently for the last 43 years: beat the defending national champs. I feel better about this game than about any other outing against a probable top 25 opponent on the slate.

They're called headphones, dude. They work best when you put 'em over your ears.

8. Ole Miss on September 29:

The Red and Black have taken seven straight series meetings from the Rebels, who have beaten the Bulldogs in Athens just twice since 1970. Since the start of the Second World War, Georgia has not lost to Ole Miss in the Peach State without first having lost to the Rebs in the Magnolia State in the preceding season. While it was a nail-biter, the 'Dawgs beat Mississippi in Oxford last season. I believe someone will win with Ed Orgeron's recruits, but I'm not convinced that Coach O will be that someone and, at the risk of being head-butted by Ragin' Cajun Rebel, I don't like The Orgeron's chances on his first trek between the hedges.

9. at Vanderbilt on October 13:

The Commodores have always been a competitive team under Bobby Johnson and I expect them to contend strongly for a bowl bid this fall. This time, though, the Commies have Georgia's undivided attention, thanks to last year's embarrassing outcome in Sanford Stadium. It should make little difference that this game is on the road, since the 'Dawgs are 19-2-1 against the 'Dores in Nashville since 1959.

10. Kentucky on November 17:

I put the Wildcats very much in the same category as the Commodores. U.K. has a chance to attend its second straight bowl game but I believe the Bulldogs (and particularly Matthew Stafford) will be looking to avenge 2006's Bluegrass State disaster. I only ranked the 'Cats behind Vandy because Georgia gets the Blue and White between the hedges.

As long as this freakish behemoth doesn't show up, I'm feeling O.K. about the Kentucky game.

11. Troy on November 3:

Granted, the Trojans have been known to put some serious scares into B.C.S. conference teams, so I don't take them too lightly, but let's be honest . . . this is a Sun Belt squad. Omar Haugabook will make things interesting, if only because the prospect of hearing Larry Munson try to pronounce "Haugabook" in the fourth quarter strikes me as highly amusing, but the outcome most likely never really will be in doubt, even if the final score ends up being closer than it ought to be.

12. Western Carolina on September 15:

They're a Division I-AA team . . . a bad Division I-AA team. There is no excuse for an elite Division I-A program scheduling a Division I-AA opponent, period. This game will remind us all why.

I know good and well that some of you disagree with that assessment, so let me know what you think are the toughest games on the schedule in the comments below.

Happy Independence Day!

Go 'Dawgs!