Georgia vs. Alabama: The LEAST Important Game of Mark Richt’s Career
I don’t see what the big deal is here. This isn’t a career-defining game for Mark Richt. It’s arguably the least important game of his tenure at Georgia.
What does beating Alabama mean? I mean it’s a win. But all a win against Alabama means is that Georgia is better than Alabama. And right now, the polls and Vegas already think Georgia is better than Alabama. Is the statement folks are looking for from a statement game simply one that says, “See everybody was right about us! We’re better than the team we were supposed to be better than!” I don’t think this is a statement game at all.
And last time Nick Saban’s team lost, it fell from No. 2 to No. 12 in the polls. Another 10-spot drop puts Bama at 23rd. Hell, the Crimson Tide might fall even further. So who gives a damn about beating a team that might not even be ranked?
Richt was once 1-0 against Saban-coached Bama teams.
For Georgia to win a National Championship (now that game would matter), at least five things need to happen:
- Georgia needs to win the SEC East.
- Georgia needs to win the SEC Championship Game.
- Georgia needs to receive the likely bid into the playoff.
- Georgia needs to win a national semifinal game.
- Georgia needs to win the National Championship Game.
Those things are unarguably sequential if normalcy prevails.
Does beating Alabama help Georgia in the SEC East? No, not really. I mean sure, conference wins matter. But if this helps achieve that goal then the most important game of the season will happen again when Georgia plays Auburn. And if winning the East is the first step to a Natty, then the rest of the steps don’t matter and games against SEC East foes count as doubly important victories. South Carolina was the most important game of the season…at least thus far.
But we can keep going. Does beating Alabama win Georgia an SEC Championship? Not in October. In fact, beating Alabama all but eliminates from SEC West contention the one team in the West that we would know Georgia was better than (Alabama).
Does beating Alabama get Georgia a playoff bid? Not directly. Sure, it matters that Georgia needs to win a heavy majority of its games, but in that light last week’s game against Southern mattered because Georgia needed to win that one too. As far as raw wins and losses are concerned, this is just the most important game of Richt’s week.
And obviously, this game does nothing for beating another opponent in a semifinal or final.
This game means absolutely nothing. I’m being more than a little bit facetious here, but this is worth noting.
The Chubb storyline might be the most important of the day.
Georgia fans have put Mark Richt into a box and created a no-win atmosphere. If Georgia beats Alabama tomorrow—and I think that possibility is possible (that’s why it’s a possibility)—how quickly are we going to dismiss the win against an Alabama program that’s “not what it used to be” or that’s “barely or not even ranked?” My guess is we discount that game the second we see Georgia struggle against another opponent, which is bound to happen because football is a hard game and it’s a long season. And we’ve already seen this happen on a smaller scale. Heading into the South Carolina game, very few fans felt confident about the Dawgs taking on an obviously down Gamecocks team.
The win was a blast, but the narrative shifted from “Oh we are gonna win this game” to “It feels great to beat South Carolina” to “Hahahahaha Spurrier” to “Yeah but South Carolina sucks” awfully fast. And that “We ain’t done nothing yet” mentality showed its ugly head when Georgia wasn’t winning by 100+ points against Southern in the first half. If Georgia beats Alabama then everyone—even us as Bulldog fans—will immediately downgrade the Crimson Tide and if Georgia does anything less than a four Touchdown victory in Knoxville next weekend it will prove that we “still don’t know if Georgia’s good or not, the Bama game meant nothing.”
And Georgia could lose to Bama still. And Georgia could beat Bama and find someone else to lose to. That happens in football. It’s worth noting that six of the last nine National Champions lost at some point. LSU lost twice in 2007. So losses do happen to good teams—especially good teams that are still breaking in new offensive schemes, a new quarterback and adjusting to real opposition for the first time.
Georgia’s probably going to lose sometime this season. It might be against Alabama; it might be against someone else. In the grand scheme of things, a loss to Alabama is the easiest to come back from. After all, Alabama isn’t an intra-division foe (like Tennessee, Missouri, Florida and Kentucky) a long-standing rival on the field and in recruiting (like Auburn) or a a little-brother in-state program that should always be beaten (like Georgia Tech). To be sure, a win helps the cause and a loss hurts. But unlike some of the games listed above, a loss to Alabama doesn’t doom the Dawgs or otherwise indict the program.
In that regard, this is just another game. Hell yes we want Georgia to win. Hell no we don’t want Georgia to lose. But it’s another game against another good team.
And to put my blogging money where my mouth is: win, lose or draw vs. Bama, I think the game at Knoxville next weekend is more important. And the fight in Jacksonville is suddenly looming quite large.
That’s all I got/
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