There are many undercurrents of this 2023 college football season.
Among them - for some rivalries, this may be the final curtain call.
It’s not a certainty that annual games against those like South Carolina or Auburn will still take place. Those rivalries matter an awful lot, even moreso in the case of Auburn for fans near Columbus and South Carolina in the case of those near Augusta.
As was said in a recent comment thread about Georgia Tech, they may not be the games you want to win the most, but they are certainly games you want not to lose.
These rivalries being on their final annual doorstep are getting a reminder of what’s to come this weekend with Ole Miss in town.
For an awful long time, Georgia and Ole Miss played annually. From 1996 all the way up to 2002, fans of the Rebels (or Black Bears, Landsharks or whatever else) and the Dawgs had an every-other-year tradition - playing one another with the backdrop of some of the greatest tailgate scenes in America.
Saturday in Athens or The Grove? Take your pick.
The final year of that string came in one of the more important bounce-back games for Georgia under Mark Richt. A week after a deflating loss to Florida, Georgia had to come back home and not just get back on track, but do it against Eli Manning. The Dawgs did just that, pulling away in the second half to win 31-17, putting the win away when David Greene found Terrence Edwards for a 33-yard score.
Here’s some internet gold for those who came of age in the early 2000s...
From that point on, the two teams would play four times in the next ten years. For sure, it was different not going against Ole Miss each year. It may not have felt normal, but there was an eventual adjustment to it.
That span saw Georgia, which beat Ole Miss 37-10 in 2012, run its streak to ten wins in a row. The next game in the series is one Georgia fans would rather forget - a humbling 45-14 loss in 2016 during Kirby Smart’s first year in Athens.
That day was one where, in all honesty, a segment of this fan base was not sure Kirby Smart could be the guy to get Georgia to the next level. That and a loss at home to Vandy did not help, but obviously, those growing pains did not last.
This weekend’s a reminder not playing the same teams each year in the future may not feel normal, but it’s a norm that’ll be adjusted to over time, as odd as it may seem.