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Capital One Bowl Preview: 12 Wins, Bowl Streaks and Bo Pellini’s Cargo Shorts


I don’t know that an X’s and O’s preview would carry much weight at juncture.  Despite the hoopla that comes with a major Bowl atmosphere (and this is still – as the largest non-BCS Bowll – a major bowl), this is very much not what Georgia wanted this season.  The Bulldogs’ improvement since that fateful game in Columbia, South Carolina in early October is beyond admirable, but the sting of the SEC Championship remains with this team.  I’ve noticed this week that it remains with the fanbase.  As I pointed out way back in 2012, if the Dawgs had known 11 regular season wins was in the cards this year, then the Capital One Bowl would have been deemed as a disappointment.  And with all due respect (and for once I actually sincerely mean that) to the Capital One Bowl, am still a little disappointed too.

My one personal regret regarding the Bowl is that I didn’t get down here earlier.  Every event that I have (or the DudeYouCrew has) attended has been great.  Check-in was largely seemless, the hotel accommodations are centrally located to all the good stuff (and even some of the bad), the Press Conference yesterday was a success as was the luncheon that followed it.  By all accounts the pep rallies for each team were smashing successes; I even got a photo of Bo Pellini wearing cargo shorts.  There’s a concert this morning and a football carnival of sorts going on near the stadium and the half-time show promises the crowning of the Capital One Mascot Challenge and more live music from Dierks Bentley.  From top-to-bottom the Bowl has been a blast.

Bo uses those big pockets to carry around Wisconsin's points.

Bo uses those big pockets to carry around Wisconsin’s points.

But the Bowl is not in Miami, Florida, and the game today will not crown a National Champion.  So, it remains a bit of a disappointment and I still don’t know what to predict from the Georgia Bulldogs.  If it was a regular season game then I’d expect a winning effort.  After all, the Bulldogs have won 21 of their last 22 regular season games, and the Huskers don’t stand out in that crowd of competition.  If it was a big game with a transcendent (and permanent) value to it, I’d feel fantastic as Georgia has recently dismantled Florida to claim the SEC East and played with Alabama to a frighteningly close degree.

Alas, those factors are not at play.  So, to come back to a point I began three paragraphs ago, I don’t know that the X’s and O’s matter.  If they did, I’d say that Nebraska’s chances of stopping Georgia’s offense pale like a redhead in winter in comparison to Georgia’s odds of stopping the Cornhuskers.  If this game really mattered on one of those levels, I’d comment on Georgia’s ability to move the ball – possibly at will – against Nebraska, and the fact that Georgia’s defense should be able to make plays when they actually matter.  If this was a regular season game or a BCS Bowl game, the 8.5 point spread given in favor of Georgia would seem laughable.  Frankly, I think in either of those circumstances Georgia would be at least 14 points better than Nebraska.

But this is a Bowl game, and that doesn’t necessarily engrain confidence in this Georgia fan.  And that is not so much an indictment of the Capital One Bowl as it is of the Georgia Bulldogs’ football program’s recent history.  Georgia’s junior signal-caller Aaron Murray might leave after this game.  He has never won a Bowl game.  Georgia was the better team in each of his two Bowl appearances.  But the finale on the scoreboard disagreed.

Ultimately there are plenty of motivations for Georgia to show up and win.  The Dawgs are playing for a top-5 BCS finish.  They’re playing for a 12-win season that would mark just the third in the program’s storied history (joining the 1980 National Champion 12-0 team and the 13-1 SEC Champs from 2002).  But it’s that Bowl win that matters.  It’s that Bowl win that Coach Mark Richt stressed in the Capital One Bowl Kickoff Luncheon Press Conference.  And at the end of the day, I think that will be the victory cry.

The Georgia Bulldogs will win this game, because Richt has them prepared to do so.  Any other extra-curricular successes or dominance is up to the players.  On one hand I hope those are superfluous.  On the other hand I’d be OK with guys like Aaron Murray and Kwame Geather feeling the need to come back after a lackluster, but winning, final performance.

So maybe, in a weird way, we should be rooting for just a little bit of disappointment today.

But even with that in mind and even with the generally friendly demeanor of all these Nebraska fans, I still want a statement game from the Dawgs.  They don’t owe it to me.  But I think they owe it to themselves.  And in that regard, I do expect a dominating performance.

We’ll see what we get.

In the meantime, check back starting around 10:30 for some live updates from the Press Box.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Gameday Exclusive: Georgia Fans, This is a Tailgating Essential Today


Today DudeYouCrazy and Co. will be patrolling the greater Georgia Dome area looking for the quality sights and sounds that can only be experienced at the SEC Championship Game.  I may or may not be the celebrity picker on College Game Day.  I may or may not be talking trash with Alabama fans regarding the true meaning of the homoerotic “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer” chant.  I may or may not crash your tailgate.

But, I’ll tell you what I will be doing.  I will be having a good time.  And I will be passing out these bad boys.

Ohhhh yeah.....

Ohhhh yeah…..

That’s right, what better way to show respect to the great tailgater out there than with this DudeYouCrazy stamp of approval.  It looks great on a grill, a tent, some unsuspecting person’s back or even your car.  Once it’s yours you can do whatever you want with it.

So follow DudeYouCrazy on Twitter for updates on the crew’s whereabouts or Tweet a suggestion at us and get ready to have your tailgate crashed.  And get ready to give us a hotdog.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

Be Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Georgia vs. Alabama: I expect Georgia to Win because Georgia Expects to Win


I’ve made the observation before that when voting in a college football poll there are three possible sets of qualities to explore and combine to form an educated placement:

  1. The résumé: What has this team done this year?  Who have they defeated?  Who have the lost to?  How have those games come to pass?  And, how do the answers to those questions relate to the answers for other teams.
  2. The momentum: How good do I think this team is right now?  Are they moving up or down in my mind?  Are they getting better or worse?
  3. The head-to-head guess: Would team A beat team B.  Or, as I’ve put it would I prefer my team to play team A or team B?

When I make a prediction for a game base the prediction on some combination of the factors above.  I incorrectly picked Georgia to beat South Carolina because I felt that Georgia’s 45-point win over Vanderbilt (who South Carolina squeaked by) carried more weight than Georgia’s struggles against Tennessee – it didn’t.  Furthermore, I didn’t think South Carolina had enough offense to keep up with Georgia if Connor Shaw was under center and running around like a chicken with his head cut off – that day, he didI picked Georgia over Florida for similar reasons: at its most simplistic I liked Georgia’s offense against Florida’s defense a lot more than I liked Florida’s offense against Georgia’s defense (which I expected to show up alert).  I was impressed with Florida’s résumé, but I also thought the daunting task of LSU and South Carolina in the first half of the year might wear them down, and they certainly seemed worn down in the Vanderbilt game that split up the Tigers and the Cocks.  I was right about that game.

So, you have every right to think that I’m crazy and I even claim to be, but I think Georgia can win this game for the similar reasons.

Résumés 

Frankly, I don’t know that Alabama’s résumé is that much more impressive on a pure wins/losses basis, which in December is all that matters.  Alabama throttled a Michigan team that has lost four games this year.  Alabama defeated an LSU team that struggles to score thanks to Les Miles out-Les-Milesing Les Miles.  Alabama defeated Mississippi State – who was ranked at the time – but has since dropped out of the rankings and lost to Ole Miss.  Those are Alabama’s best wins.  The Tide has defeated one more ranked team than Georgia this year and it is Michigan.  I don’t think there’s reason to believe Georgia would not also beat the Wolverines.  I think the odds of Georgia beating Michigan are the same as Alabama beating Georgia Tech: 1.000.

Alabama and Georgia have both squared off against and defeated Florida Atlantic, Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Auburn.  Alabama defeated Western Kentucky while Georgia beat Buffalo.  Both teams took down an FCS opponent.  Georgia beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky.  Alabama also beat Arkansas.  The wins aren’t to eschewed one way or the other.   Which, of course brings us to losses.

People seem to remember two specific things and forget two specific things when looking at the résumés of Alabama and Georgia.  People seem to remember that Georgia didn’t play the elite teams from the SEC West (Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M).  But, people seem to forget that Alabama didn’t play the elite teams from SEC East (Georgia, Florida and South Carolina).  And people seem to remember that Georgia lost on the road to then 6th ranked South Carolina eight weeks ago.  But, people seem to forget that Alabama lost at home to then 15th ranked Texas A&M three weeks ago.

As far as wins and losses go, it’s pretty darn even.

Momentum

This Alabama team has supposedly returned to invincible status since losing at home just three weeks ago against Texas A&M.  That is the public’s perception.  But there is no evidence to support such a claim as back-to-back 49-0 wins against Western Carolina and Auburn – both at home – account for little to no merit.

Georgia, however, has improved since their loss.  That much is undeniable. Georgia followed the loss to Carolina with an off week and a sluggish game against Kentucky.  They followed that with an upset of #2 Florida and four FBS games that saw opposition score a total of 29 points.

How has Alabama faired over the past four games?  Well, they’re 3-1, not 4-0 for starters.  And, if we’re going to praise Texas A&M we should mention that this Aggies team lost at home to Florida.

If there is a team in the nation playing better than Georgia right now (I’m sure this is where Gators Eric will chime in), I’m not sure who it is.  But I’m certainly not sold on Alabama. In that regard.

 

Conclusion 

I’m no eternal optimist when it comes to the Georgia Bulldogs.  If you’d asked me to rank this team using the same criteria listed above I would have had them open 10th and hover for a few weeks before dropping sharply after the loss to South Carolina.  But the Bulldogs are climbing steadily every week.  And I can’t say the same about Alabama.  I can’t ignore the loss a few weeks ago like so many other people.

I think Georgia will put more pressure on A.J. McCarron than he has felt this side of the tattoo parlor that put the curse on his chest.  I think Alec Ogletree and the slew of middle-backers Grantham has farmed will control the run.  I think Damian “Black” Swann will make a play when he’s called upon to do so.

I think Gurshall will continue to run effectively on first downs and give Mike Bobo playcalling options.  I think Aaron Murray will play with a level of poise in the pocket that parallels his preparation.

I think Georgia can go to the National Championship if these things happen.  And I expect them to happen.  And for the first time in quite a while, I think the Georgia Bulldogs expect them to as well.

But I might be crazy.

Be Sure to Read this Coverage of Conference Championship Week as well:

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Georgia vs. Auburn Preview: Let’s Get Graphic With It


What follows may very well be my favorite sentence.  The Auburn Tigers are really bad at football this year.  Feels good to say that.  Two short years ago I had to say the opposite thing.  Two short years the Auburn Tigers were really good (and really expensive, allegedly), but now the Auburn Tigers are really bad.

Conversely, two years ago the Georgia Bulldogs were bad (I can’t say really bad, because they weren’t really bad relative to the standard set by this year’s Auburn team).  Now the Georgia Bulldogs are good (not as good as 2010 Auburn though).

You see, there are three things I like about this graph.  First and foremost, I like the edgy representation of the Ichthys symbol of Christianity.  It is very Richt-ian.  Secondly I like the fact that the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers started in the exact same place before going their separate ways.  I always like when Georgia goes a direction opposite of Auburn.  Because as the third point illustrates, it is always better in the long-run to not do what Auburn does.  And, Georgia has been better than Auburn (in winning percentage, and on the field I would assert) in each of the last two seasons.

Gene Chizik is a big part of the problem.  The other part of the problem is Auburn University.  Two seasons ago Mark Richt was on the hot seat in Athens and Gene Chizik was winning a National Championship.  Now everything has flipped – at least as far as job security is concerned.  But Chizik has won as many games as Richt over the past four seasons and a National Championship.  So what gives?  In short: Boosters give, and they know 2010 was wrong (Facts be damned, Cam was a Scam).

For what it’s worth I jumped off the Auburn bandwagon the second Cam “Extremely Blessed Individual” Newton and Nick “Extremely Dumb Individual” Fairley skipped town.  I picked Utah State to cover the spread against them in last year’s season opener.  True story.  This year when Vegas had Auburn winning 7.5 games this year I took the under saying, “It’s a scary proposition to expect Auburn to win 7 or fewer games this year, but that’s where the program is.”  I couldn’t have been more accurate.  I followed that up in another post with the assertion that Auburn’s losing of 6 or more SEC games and Florida’s rise would be demonstrative in the SEC power switch from west to east.  I said all of this before the season started.  It didn’t take a smart man to see the fall of Auburn.

Why?  Because as I’ve said for years, 2010 was an outlier for Gene Chizik.  Mathematically speaking, that’s probably not the case.  But consider Gene Chizik’s winning percentage over the seasons.  Doesn’t that one year (2010) stick out pretty badly.  You have ups and downs as a coach, but your record shouldn’t resemble a roller coaster this closely.  Especially not when you have two job changes.  Below is how the Chiz Whiz has faired when inheriting jobs.  He had no trouble winning with Tubberville’s boys.  But without elite talent (see Iowa State) he sucked.

So What Does All This Mean Relative to Saturday 

What this means is that Auburn will field a whole lot of talent – in theory on Saturday.  Auburn will suit up players from the 20th ranked class of 2008, 19th ranked class of 2009, 4th ranked class of 2010, 7th ranked class of 2011 and 10th ranked class of 2012.  But those players will bumble around like fools for the majority of the game because they are playing for an incompetent coaching staff.

Mike Bobo’s offense will take on a bottom-half-of-the-nation scoring defense that is allowing 428 yards per game.  Todd Gurley and company will run against the nation’s 25th worst run defense – the worst in the SEC.

Defensively I’d look for Todd Grantham’s defense to continue to climb the national rankings (they’re now 25th in points allowed) thanks to the country’s 12th worst scoring offense.  Of course relatively speaking Auburn scores pretty well.  They must have some semblance of efficiency if they are the nation’s 9th worst team in total offense but only 12th worst scoring offense.

Georgia is favored by 16 points and I think Vegas is giving credence to the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and the notion that anybody can win in the SEC especially at home.  I’m looking for – and hoping for – a margin close to last year’s game.  Might as well beat Gene Chizik one last time, beat Auburn for a sixth time in seven years and tie toe overall series record in the process.

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Georgia vs. Ole Miss Game Preview: The UGLY Truth(s)


The odd significance of last weekend’s win over Florida is that every game now matters more than ever.  Georgia didn’t win the SEC East or clinch anything last weekend (although Florida could have done so with a win), the Bulldogs  just took the pole position in a two-week race to the divisional finish line.  Accordingly, Georgia needs to beat Ole Miss and Auburn for last week’s victory to mean anything.  And in light of that this weekend’s matchup with Ole Miss has a whole new meaning.

That meaning is intensified by the fact that Ole Miss is having a pretty darn good year themselves under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze.  Before the season I picked the Rebels to win two or three games (Central Arkansas, Tulane and possibly one upset) and they’ve already won five.  I’ve been wrong before, but when I handicapped the West and made hypothetical bets I did a pretty good job (projecting to finish 5-1 with a firm Vegas line on Ole Miss ironically unavailable before the season).  Not only am I off on the Rebels, I’m off big time.  They’re one win shy of bowl eligibility and I’d all but guarantee they beat the Vanderbilt Commodores and I like them to upset Mississippi State at home during the last week of the season.

And yet the Rebels come into Athens as a 16-point underdog against the Dawgs.  And the ugly truth (the first of five ugly truths, I should say) is that line is too large.  A number of factors are working against the Bulldogs this week: fatigue (both physical and emotional), a new pressure on this game that wouldn’t have existed 7 days ago and a fired-up nothing to lose Ole Miss team with nothing to lose.  Accordingly, I think it will take a perfect game from the Bulldogs to cover that point spread convincingly (20+ points).  And, as Georgia fans have so shamefully demonstrated, we are by in large (at least in volume) a fickle fan base that would be disappointed with a win by a smaller margin.  Even worse, the Bulldogs need a 16+ point victory to gain credibility with voters and ultimately the BCS.  That, my friends, is the (second) ugly truth.  The Dawgs need to play perfectly this weekend, yet again.

Defense

As I mentioned earlier this week I think the Bulldogs need to keep their “switch” on and play the remainder of the season with the same passion and precision they possessed in Jacksonville last Saturday.  The Bulldogs need momentum when they head into the Georgia Dome and they need a few more wins to get there.  A lights-out defense aids both of those causes.  Will we see one?  I certainly hope so, but the (third) ugly truth is we’ve only seen such a defensive effort twice this season: against Florida and against Vanderbilt.  Both of those games had some bad blood (against Vandy it was their jerk of a coach; against Florida it might have been teammate Shawn Williams), there has not previously been such blood with Ole Miss.  Maybe some needs to be created over the next few hours.

Offense

Georgia needs to run a balanced offensive attack, but the attack needs to come at its own terms – not at the direction of Ole Miss’s defense or the forced terms of creative play calling.  A healthy dose of Gurshall combined with smart, accurate passes from Murray can yield solid offensive output – something the Bulldogs once-feared offense hasn’t seen since September.  The (fourth) ugly truth is that Georgia can’t win by a large margin without scoring points.  Those points are needed, and they’ve been at a premium as of late (just over 15 points per game over the last three contest).

Special Teams

The last ugly truth is the continued presence of ugly special teams play.  That phase of the game needs a dramatic renovation and needs one immediately.  The Bulldogs need to make extra points (I can’t believe I’m saying that), make short field goals, return kicks that should be returned, not return kicks that don’t need to be returned and make tackles when kicking off and punting.  Is that too much to ask?

Conclusion

This is going to sound like a cop-out but Georgia is going to win the game in one of two ways I’m afraid:  Either the Dawgs will score late in the fourth quarter to make a tight game seem wider than it really was or they’re going to let Ole Miss score late in the game to make a comfortable lead – albeit not a huge one – look minuscule   In the first scenario I just described I think the Dawgs will win by 12-16 points.  In the second scenario I’d expect the Dawgs to win by 7-10.

Prove me wrong by covering the spread comfortably Bulldogs, because that would be impressive.

That’s all I got/

Andrew

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