Let's dispense with the suspense. The key to this game is going to be third down. Can the Georgia defense play smart and physical and get off the field on third down? Last year we were utterly incapable of stopping Chris Relf and company when we needed to, and wore down over the course of the second half as a result. So far in 2011 Georgia has been among the best third down teams in the SEC on both offense and defense. But I'm curious about whether this Bulldog team will be remembering last year's manhandling by the gang from Starkville*. Saturday presents the 'Dawgs with a great opportunity to put that frustrating, embarrassing loss behind them, and turn a page in the Georgia football rebuilding effort. It's a chance to show that this is not the same team that (and I say this with that love and respect that only a college sports fan can muster while insulting 85 people simultaneously), got pushed around like a bunch of sissies in Starkville last September.
Of course success on third down is about two things. First, it's about building a good foundation on first down. By doing that you take away many of the options that an offensive coordinator would like to have later in the playcalling sequence. Second, it's about digging down deep and summoning the courage to put it all out there for one more play.What kind of drink should you be toasting with to foster the building of a good foundation and the exhibition of out-sized courage?
It's bourbon. The answer is bourbon. The answer is always bourbon**. Now like every Southern football fan, I like to think I'm a connoisseur of bourbons. I'm not of course. Bourbon just makes everyone feel smarter than they actually are. That's one of its many charms. But I digress.
If I were in fact a bourbon connoiseur, I would recommend Bulleit bourbon for your pregame consumption. Bourbon, for the uninitiated, is one of the most regulatorily circumscribed of American spirits. There are a lot of legal requirements to label something "bourbon". Chief among them is that the mash bill must be at least 51% corn. The remainder can be wheat, rye or barley. Bulleit has a much higher rye content than most other widely distributed bourbons (Maker's Mark for example uses a substantial wheat mix). The result is a spirit with a dry palate, less sweet than most bourbons without being astringent. "Astringent", by the way, is liquor snob for "this crap tastes like lighter fluid."
Bulleit is also very reasonably priced (around $24 a fifth the last time I checked), which is a consideration if your favorite college football team drives you to drink on a weekly basis. It's not cheap bourbon, but it's cheap enough.
I'll be back tomorrow with the Friday Tailgate. Until then . . .
*To be fair, if I lived in Starkville, Mississippi I'd have a lot of pent up aggression as well.
** Except when driving, attending AA meetings, or performing neurosurgery. But other than that, trust me, the answer's bourbon.