You asked for it . . . well, all right, Sue asked for it, so here it is: your weekly statistical/historical breakdown of the Georgia Bulldogs’ upcoming opponent, which, in this instance, just happens to be the Arkansas Razorbacks.
In examining the forthcoming clash between the ‘Dawgs and the Hogs, I will endeavor, as always, to provide you not with a dab of data or a smidgen of statistics, but, rather, with . . . Too Much Information.
Odds and Ends:
As noted over at Arkansas Expats, Georgia and Arkansas share a limited but odd history with one another. The two teams have met just eleven times, with all eleven series meeting occurring in my lifetime. (I was born in 1968 and the first meeting between the Bulldogs and the Razorbacks was on New Year’s Day 1969. Like Mike Gundy, I am a man and I am 40.)
The Red and Black have gone 8-3 in the series and have won eight of their last nine outings against Arkansas, including five in a row. Despite their limited track record with one another, the Bulldogs and the Razorbacks enjoy a series with this oddity: their eleven showdowns have occurred in seven different cities. The two teams have met thrice in Athens and thrice in Fayetteville, but they also have squared off in New Orleans (1969 Sugar Bowl), Dallas (1976 Cotton Bowl), Memphis (1987 Liberty Bowl), Shreveport (1991 Independence Bowl), and Atlanta (2002 SEC Championship Game).
Mark Richt is 21-6 against the SEC West overall, 14-2 against rotating Western Division opponents in regular-season meetings, and 4-0 against Arkansas. Lest anyone start to shudder just because this game is away from home and hedge, bear in mind that Coach Richt is 10-2 against the SEC West on the road and 7-1 in conference road openers, with the only loss coming in 2003 to the eventual national champion.
Because of Georgia’s and Arkansas’s limited histories with one another, there are only so many historical minutiae that are applicable. How about this one, though: the only other time that the Bulldogs faced the Razorbacks in a season in which Georgia defeated South Carolina by four points, the Red and Black beat Arkansas in Fayetteville.
The Feel Good Stat of the Week:
Ere Bulldog Nation becomes overly fretful about the prospect of sending first-year starter Joe Cox into a hostile venue after his underwhelming (albeit flu-hampered) performance in Stillwater, I would like to put your mind at least somewhat at ease.
D.J. Shockley faced Arkansas as a first-year starter in 2005 . . . and, despite losing Shockley to injury, the Bulldogs still won. David Greene faced Arkansas as a first-year starter in 2001 . . . and he also led the Red and Black to victory. As a matter of fact, the last first-year starting quarterback to suit up for Georgia in a loss to the Hogs was Ray Goff. No first-year starting QB for the ‘Dawgs has ever been defeated by the Razorbacks during the regular season.
The Bottom Line:
I, like Doug Gillett, have no clue what to make of this game. It’s hard to know whether the Hogs’ Division I-AA opener and ensuing bye week will make them rested and ready or rested and rusty. At the professional level, an open date almost always helps; where 18- to 22-year-old college students are concerned, there’s just no telling. Is this the game the Razorbacks have had all summer to get ready to play or is this the game in which Arkansas finds out it can’t take a punch?
Even if it’s the former, Paul Westerdawg has a point when he asks what, precisely, the defensive staff in Fayetteville has spent the last several months preparing to face. It’s a mystery, but I like the fact that Justin Houston returns just in time to step up the pressure the Georgia defensive front got on Stephen Garcia . . . and to do so against Ryan Mallett, who has nothing like Garcia’s wheels.
I don’t know if the Bulldogs can win another honest-to-goodness shootout, but I don’t know if that’s what they’ll be called upon to do. I believe the Classic City Canines can continue to bring the heat against a quarterback less mobile than Garcia and the Georgia offense can continue its rhythm against a defense less stout than the Gamecocks’ . . . and, if so, the Red and Black could teach their hosts a lesson from Thomas Hobbes; viz., that life in the Natural State is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Not only that, but, as long as we’re getting our manufactured hate on, the presidents we produce are significantly better human beings than the presidents they produce. I’m just saying.
My Prediction: Georgia 31, Arkansas 24.