Georgia vs. Alabama Preview: The Final Word – This Doesn’t Define the Season
Eight weeks ago I asked Georgia fans to take a step back and have a little perspective following a heartbreakingly ugly defeat in Columbia, South Carolina. My assertion then was that the season was bigger than one game. Now I insist that the season is still, even today, bigger than one game.
Two years ago the Georgia Bulldogs went 6-6 before losing in a Bowl Game to a Conference USA opponent. That didn’t sit well – understandably – with Georgia fans (myself included) who were still disappointed with the performance of recent teams that starred the likes of Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and countless other NFL talents. Georgia opened the 2011 season with a pair of losses: one an embarrassing defeat to the BCS-Busting Blue Broncos from the mythical State of Boise, the other at the hands of Steve Spurrier that seemed to signify the swing of power in the SEC East.
I was ready for changes. You were probably ready for changes. Everybody was ready for changes. Instead of being one of the changes, Mark Richt and his staff made the changes. The Bulldogs ripped off 10 straight wins and in the process snuck into the Georgia Dome for bid at the SEC Championship. Now, if you listen to Mark Richt describe the state of his team at that time it’s hard not to pick up on a hint of surprise for the 2011 squad. They didn’t expect to be there. I think that showed in their performance. Although the effort could not be questioned and at times it seemed like Georgia might pull off an upset (especially in the first half when they seemed to move the ball at will against LSU), it was hard to say that the Bulldogs belonged in the Dome that day.
As much has changed between that game and today as changed between the 2010 season and the 2011 season. The records may not show as much improvement (going from a losing season to an SEC Championship Game is hard to match), but this year’s 11-1 team belongs in the Georgia Dome much more so than last year’s 10-2 team. And, that’s not an indictment of the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs so much as it is high praise for this year’s edition.
I mentioned yesterday that expectations within the Bulldogs football team are completely different than they were this time last year. Expectations from outsiders, however, remain the same. With few noteworthy exceptions (Jeff Schultz at the AJC is one) most major media market representatives and national media pundits expect Alabama to win today. The Las Vegas line is sitting at 8.5 (I could list a thousand reasons as to why that is bogus, but I’ll spare you) in favor of Alabama.
I don’t know what your expectations as a fan of Georgia football have been, so I can’t judge whether they should be altered. But, I will be so bold as to tell you what your expectations and, perhaps on a broader scale, your perspective of Georgia football should be.
You should expect the Georgia Bulldogs to compete today. What that looks like on the field, I’m not exactly sure, but I would expect both sides of the ball to finish plays with authority. The offense will fight for extra yardage and the defense will swarm. There will be mistakes, but there will also be successes.
You should expect a well-called game from both coordinators. When his players are engaged in the greater good of physically dominating their opposition rather than promoting the individual, Todd Grantham has the best defense in the country. They have been over the last five weeks. Mike Bobo is up for the Frank Broyles assistant coach of the year award and Georgia has already set a school record for points in a season and the offense is rolling. How well the offense executes remains to be seen, but I’d expect Bobo to call a fine game – even if there are a few draw plays on third and long.
I stand by the expectations listed above and I stand by my game preview from yesterday. But, the magnitude of this game should not be lost on anyone and neither should the consequences. This is the National Championship game. If you read my site regularly you know my feelings about Notre Dame and non-SEC football in general. Am I a homer? Absolutely. But favoring the SEC has worked out pretty darn well for me over the past few years and until proven otherwise I will work on the assumption that the SEC is the best conference top-to-bottom in the country and as a byproduct of such continues to produce the best team in the country year-in and year-out.
The team that wins the game today will win the National Championship. I firmly believe that. But even if that point is debatable – which it most certainly is until January 7th – the fact remains that Alabama, and more importantly to you Georgia, are in exclusive company.
Two years ago Mark Richt was the head coach of a team that had gone from under-achieving to sub-.500. Fifteen months ago the rumor was that he was going to be fired before the Coastal Carolina game. Eight weeks ago a number of you took to my website – and probably a hundred others – to voice not only frustration and disappointment, but what appeared to be absolute disdain for Mark Richt. Today he is one of three coaches in the country with a chance of winning a National Championship. Today he is one of two men in America with the chance of being the head coach of the favored team in the BCS National Championship (Vegas has already previewed that Alabama or Georgia would be favored over the Irish).
As stated earlier, I stand by my predicted Georgia victory which I whole-heartedly hope will come to fruition and I whole-brainedly (not a word) believe to be a reasonable possibility. But all is not lost if I’m wrong. If Georgia loses it will be to the reigning and eventual repeat National Champion – a title which by its very nature declares the best team in the country. If Georgia loses it will be because like 122 other teams in the country, the Bulldogs aren’t as good on an everyday basis as the National Champions.
If Georgia loses it will be disappointing. It may even be frustrating. But this season is still bigger than just one game.
Glory, glory to ole Georgia. Glory, glory to ole Georgia. Glory, glory to ole Georgia and to hell with U of A. I sure hope that’s the soundtrack of the night.
DudeYouCrazy Tailgating Plans
DudeYouCrazy and some pals are going to be out and about before the game circling the Georgia Dome. We’d love to meet up and even give you a free gift. Check out the details here.
Be Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:
- Weekly Recap
- SEC Coaching Carousel
- Manti Te’O would be a backup for Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree
- Data Dump: White and Nerdy Statistical Analysis on the SEC and the BCS Top 3
- Georgia’s Defense vs. Alabama’s Offense: Stopping the Tide Rush the Key to Georgia Victory
- Knocking the Heisman Candidates
- Georgia’s Offense Shouldn’t be Scared of Alabama’s Defense
- Weekend Preview: We are the Champions
- The Alabama Loss to Georgia in One Gorgeous Picture
- I Expect Georgia to win because Georgia expects Georgia to win
That’s all I got/