Back in September, I wrote that the Georgia Bulldogs shouldn’t have started this season 0-2. They lost to an excellent Boise State team, which is a missed field goal from finishing the regular season undefeated. They imploded against a very good South Carolina team that has held itself together despite losing premier running back Marcus Lattimore to a knee injury and finally having to dismiss its starting QB after numerous run-ins with law enforcement and team rules.
I stressed that Mark Richt, despite an impressive body of work, was on the proverbial hot seat. His job was in jeopardy because his Georgia Bulldogs were, at that point in the season, 14-14 in their last 28 games and had lost something like 15 of 16 to ranked opponents. Still, I said that there was time to right the ship and, to the credit of coach Richt and his staff, they have done just that.
Since the debacle against the Gamecocks, the Dogs have won 10 straight for the first time since 1983, when they lost to Penn State in the Sugar Bowl in a National Championship game. After disposing of seven conference opponents, they are now able to prepare for a spot in the SEC Championship game.
There was no room for error and, despite having a less than stellar performance against a below-average Kentucky Wildcat team, they got the job done.
There are many who stress that Georgia’s SEC schedule was weak. They didn’t draw LSU, Alabama or Arkansas as SEC Western Division opponents this season. While not arguing that Ole Miss, Mississippi State and this year’s Auburn team don’t match up with the aforementioned trio, I must point out that Georgia had no control over their SEC schedule. Those matchups were determined years ago when, frankly, the SEC Eastern Division, with Tennessee and Florida, was considered stronger.
My point is that many fans doubted Georgia, its players and coaching staff, and with their backs to the wall, they did what they had to do to set themselves up for a tough matchup against a very impressive LSU team in the Georgia Dome on Dec. 3.
I have to admit, I didn’t write this rather positive column, considering that I’m a glass-half-empty kind of guy, until after the convincing win against Georgia Tech. While I’m grateful to the Yellow Jackets for giving my high school teammate and friend Eddie Lee Ivery and two of my former players, Jerry Mays and Terry Pettis, opportunities to play college football and get a great education, I don’t like Georgia Tech. The idea of Tech fans being able to say they beat Georgia when they won the SEC East had my stomach on fire for a week. I made the statement to several friends that I would rather Georgia lose to LSU in the SEC Championship than end its regular season with a loss to Georgia Tech. Call me crazy, but that’s how I feel.
Now, I can relish the accomplishments of coach Richt, QB Aaron Murray and Todd Grantham’s defense and can say something I haven’t been able to say in a while. It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog again. Georgia has a chance, regardless of how remote, to shock the college football world and has earned the right to play the No. 1 team in the country for the SEC Championship. Go Dogs!