The worst thing I can say about November 12, 2011, is that it wasn’t November 10, 2007.
I arrived home from Athens and went straight to work, first, on the Mark Richt Victory Watch, and, next, on this posting, so I haven’t had time to read anything posted at the site since 11:00 Eastern Saturday morning, so some of this may be redundant, but, if it is, it’s all right, because it bears repeating:
In the course of beating the Auburn Tigers, 45-7, the Georgia Bulldogs won every quarter, outscoring the Plainsmen by margins of 14-7 in the first period, 21-0 in the second, 3-0 in the third, and 7-0 in the fourth. (Please note the zeroes after the Orange and Blue’s opening drive; thanks to a pick-six by Auburn-slayer extraordinaire Bacarri Rambo, the Georgia defense scored as many points as it allowed.)
The Bulldogs continued their run of dominance over defending national champions by beating the Tigers by 38 points, the greatest margin by which they have been beaten this season. Auburn lost to Clemson by 14, to Arkansas by 24, and to SEC West frontrunner LSU by 35.
Georgia has won eight straight games within the confines of a single season for the first time since the 2002 SEC championship campaign, when Mark Richt captured the first of his two SEC coach of the year awards. (Here’s an interesting mental exercise for you: Make a list of the 12 SEC coaches; try mounting a straight-faced argument for any of the eleven not named Mark Richt to be the 2011 SEC coach of the year.)
Georgia has beaten Tennessee, Florida, and Auburn in the same season for the first time since the 1981 SEC championship campaign. Georgia just beat Auburn by the largest margin since the 1946 SEC championship campaign, during which my father (who is now 68) was the same age that my daughter (who is three) now is.
Coach Richt, who is 7-4 against the Tennessee Volunteers, is now 7-4 against the Plainsmen, as well. The Bulldogs have beaten the Tigers five times in the last six seasons. The Red and Black have won three straight over the Orange and Blue between the hedges, and Georgia has defeated Auburn on four of the Tigers’ last five visits to Sanford Stadium.
It was, in short, a fine day in the Classic City. Jake Scott deservedly was honored. Our veterans even more deservedly were celebrated. It was a pleasant sunny autumn day that passed gradually into a pleasant nippy autumn evening. I finally got to meet DavetheDawg face-to-face. I could’ve used a little Soulja Boy, if only for old time’s sake, but, otherwise, all was nearly perfect.
That flawlessness translated onto the field, as well. While wearing their regular uniforms in a clean game played methodically and completely, the Bulldogs racked up 30 first downs, converted 12 of 15 third downs, averaged nearly five and a half yards per carry, generated 528 yards of total offense, held the ball for nearly 41 minutes of clock time, and won the turnover battle. The Plainsmen were limited to nine first downs, moved the chains on just three of 13 third- and fourth-down attempts, and were limited to 195 offensive yards.
Here’s the thing, though: Those numbers are by no means aberrational. This Georgia team has, in fact, been dominating the stat sheet throughout the Bulldogs’ eight-game winning streak. When you looked at the numbers from the games against Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Florida, you had to ask yourself, "Why did we only win by a little? The statistics say we should’ve run these guys out of the building!"
Well, on Saturday afternoon, the Red and Black posted numbers like the ones they’ve posted since starting out 0-2. The only difference is that, this time, the Bulldogs ran the other team out of the building the way the numbers say they should have seven times in their last eight games, the Vanderbilt Commodores (of all teams!) alone excepted.
Seven statistically dominant performances in an eight-game stretch are a pattern, not an anomaly. These numbers reflect who this team really is. As darkness descended upon Sanford Stadium on Saturday, the scoreboard told no lies. As Georgia made good on the historic "Auburna delenda est!" exhortation by utterly dismantling the Red and Black’s oldest rival---as the Bulldogs finished off beating its three biggest orange-clad conference rivals for the first time since the year Herschel Walker finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, and did so by the largest margin since the year Charley Trippi finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting---this team evidenced at last on the ESPN scroll at the bottom of the screen the dominance it has shown on the football field since September.
Your Georgia Bulldogs will kick off at home against the Kentucky Wildcats next Saturday for Senior Day---when, incidentally, there will be encouragingly few senior starters to be honored from this underclassmen-laden squad---with the opportunity to lay claim to the Eastern Division championship with a win. As recently as the twelfth minute of the first quarter of Saturday’s game, when the score remained snarled at seven points per side, it was possible to maintain with a straight face that the Classic City Canines were the undeservedly fortunate product of a soft schedule and a depleted SEC East. That argument has ceased to be plausible in the mind of any serious person.
This Georgia team has, in fact, been playing this well for several weeks in a row; the only difference then was in how honestly that dominance was reflected in the final margin. This Georgia team is as good as it looked on Saturday, and it has been for a while; the Bulldogs just happened to pick a big game against a longstanding rival to clear their throats and declare boldly with an exclamation point what they have been whispering within the confines of parentheses since Coastal Carolina’s David Bennett helpfully suggested the utility of fewer felines and more canines.
Well, that’s one collection of cats down, with one more to go, and hopefully another after that. That’s the good news. The better news is that we no longer need more of what Coach Bennett deemed essential, for we have all the damn good ‘Dawgs we need. Finally, after seven straight games of underappreciated overachievement, we are able to give the best answer in all of sports to the most maddening question we continue to hear, now that even the most reality-challenged message-board mouth-breather knows Mark Richt is no longer perched upon a seat even remotely resembling heated. If asked, "How good is Georgia really?", you now have only to reply: "Scoreboard."