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2012 Dawg Sports Football Season In Review: Georgia Southern

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... in which we learn that the in-state college with the second-largest fan base in Georgia is not Tech.

Scott Cunningham

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope, in the midst of whatever you might be doing on this holiday, you join with Dawg Sports in taking a moment to remember and honor the many men and women of our armed forces who have given their lives in the service of our country. If you'd like, you can post some thoughts to that effect in the Memorial Day open comment thread.

Even on this day, however, our Dawg Sports 2012 football season review continues on. Today, we are reviewing Week 12. The Georgia Bulldogs, having just clinched a second consecutive SEC Eastern Division championship by blowing out their oldest rival on their own home field, were floating on cloud nine. (Well, the fans were, anyway, as were we here at Dawg Sports. To quote Mayor Kyle Weblog: "Bourbon and Popcorn: it smells like Christmas.") We were also finally getting serious respect in the polls, creeping up to #4 in the USA today coaches poll and #5 in the AP haters media poll.

We were riding such a tremendous wave of excitement, however, that it would have been supremely easy to overlook the fiesty Georgia Southern Eagles who were strolling into town with a massive upset on their minds. Though they were a Division I-AA team, the Eagles could not be considered pushovers, as they were ranked #3 in the I-AA polls, and had previously given the Alabama defense fits in 2011, scoring more points on the eventual national championship defense than any other team that year.

On top of that, Southern continued their tradition of bringing far more fans than any other Division I-AA team ever to visit Athens, packing out their ticket allotment with, by my estimation, at least 3,000-4,000 Eagle fans in the stands, including their band. As it turns out, they would end up bringing far more fans than the North Avenue Trade School the following week, which seems appropriate, since they probably have more actual fans anyway than the Golden Tornado.

As the game started, it looked like the exhilaration of the previous week had taken a toll on the Dawgs and caused the proverbial letdown. Georgia got the ball first and drove 79 yards for a touchdown to lead 7-0, but then ground to a halt on offense. The defense held most of the time, but did allow Southern to tie the score 7-7 near the beginning of the second quarter.

After missing a 51-yard field goal, Marshall Morgan put Georgia ahead 10-7 at the 6:25 mark of the second quarter with a 37-yard kick. Then, realizing that we needed some major momentum going into the half, Aaron Murray led a clutch 70-yard drive in 59 seconds to score a touchdown at the end of the half. Georgia led 17-7 at intermission.

The Dawgs came out with their hair on fire after the break, displaying the trait had come to define their season: being a second-half team that closed out games when it counted. The defense shutdown the vaunted Eagle flexbone offense, and offense took over, and by the end of the third quarter, Georgia held an unassailable 38-7 lead.

We played mostly the 2nd and 3rd stringers in the final quarter, allowing Southern to tack on a garbage-time TD, but also tacking on our own TD, thrown by heralded freshman Parker Welch. When the dust had settled, the Georgia Bulldogs walked away with a 45-14 victory. As usual, Georgia Southern got their rushing yards, with 302 of their 318 total yards coming on the ground, but the defense shut them down when necessary.

And so we preserved our position in the polls, advancing to the following week's game against Tech with the proverbial state championship on the line. We also got a valuable week of actual game experience against the triple option/flexbone offense that Paul Johnson runs exclusively, since Southern coach Jeff Monken is from the CPJ coaching tree. Overall, it was a great day for the Georgia Bulldogs.

And to top it all off on a great day for Georgia football, we all did our "please hold on to this lead" dances later that night (illustrated below):


... as Stanford and Baylor managed to upset #1 Oregon and #2 Kansas State, respectively, putting the Dawgs back in line for a potential berth in the BCS National Championship Game if we could run the table.

Ladies and gentlemen, every day is a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog. Some days are more equal than others, however, and November 17, 2012, was a special one. Kyle Weblog's review of the game is here, if you'd like to revisit it yourself.

If you'd like to watch the full game in its entirely, well, we can accommodate that request, as well:

ChuckDawg will be back tomorrow to review our game against the nerds, and then I will be committing Seppuku publicly on Wednesday as I recap the game which pulled out our hearts and stomped those suckers flat.

Have a great Memorial Day, Dawg fans!

Go Dawgs!