Han Vance from Atlanta: Saturday at 4 p.m. Georgia gets a rematch with the only team to beat us this year. While certain trends suggest the game is a tossup, the imperfect, at best, health of probable first-team all-SEC runner Kerryon Johnson and the revenge factor clearly favor Georgia. We are playing in-state and have skill depth.
As I documented here at Bulldawg Illustrated, Kirby Smart can finally eclipse the .500 mark versus the traditional three rivals: Tech, Florida, Auburn and the four rivals that matter; throw in Tennessee. UT was real competition in the SEC East many years, and South Carolina is not good enough to be a real rival. Win Saturday and Georgia ties Tennessee for 2nd-most SEC championships (Carolina has none). With a win in Atlanta over Tech, Kirby got to .500 versus rivals for his first time at UGA, after opening 0-2 in those games and going just 1-3 last season.
Coach Smart is undefeated in revenge games as a head coach and has only one loss I could find in such games as a key assistant (Ole Miss beat Bama twice consecutively). In a nutshell, he pays back. It’s who he is. There’s a Korean word “HAN” which means a state of bliss knowing you will get revenge. That’s Kirby (and me). He said he waited 365 days for Tech and he would go over every inch of the Auburn loss.
Sic’ ’em, Coach!
I worried about it less and wasn’t compelled to cover it as the chips fell and teams finally lost their way out, to our prospective advantage, but here I’m calling a little CFP time out.
Here’s the CFP committee rankings and a few notes on that:
1. Clemson – win and in (as 1 seat headed to Sugar Bowl)
2. Auburn – win and in (2 will face 3)
3. Oklahoma – win and in (as probable Rose Bowl team)
4. Wisconsin – win and in (1 will face 4 in nearest bowl to 1)
5. Bama – in if TCU wins (or Ohio State, probably)
6. Georgia – win and in (as 2 or perhaps even 1 seat)
7. Miami – win and in
8. Ohio State – long shot (I think they’re already out)
9. Penn State – definitely out
10. USC – out (same credentials potentially as a number one Auburn)
11. TCU – out (a key spoiler, again would have same as see “USC”)
12. Stanford – out (best 3-loss team now)
As you see, nothing can be exactly settled with a four-team playoff. One two-loss conference champion is considered that much better than another based on nothing but perceptions. Perception is wrong, by definition, and the system is broken. Wild Cards win Super Bowls. Cinderella dances. Little UCF deserves a shot, too, because only in our sporting world is it that you can win all of your games and lead the nation in offense and have no chance at the championship. Easy to fix: eight teams. five conference champs from the Power Five, one Group of Five team, two at-large. Sure, the at-large will favor Bama, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State before they have done anything truly worthy, every year, and half-whits will call it “The Eye Test” meaning if they watched every game they’d…you get the point. Luckily, not a real concern for us at 11-1 (this year), but I would be so pissed if all things considered we were equal…and out. A two-loss TCU is two-loss Auburn is two-loss USC. Play for it instead.
Win and we are in the CFP!
With none of the contending teams in the nation from the West Coast, it’s a veritable certainty that 1 and 4 will get the nearer Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. As I did in the preseason, I’m still projecting Georgia to win and get the Rose Bowl, but Mark-Richt-magic-Miami upsetting Clemson could propel our Dawgs all the way to first, where we could likely face Alabama in Louisiana…MORE REVENGE! More probable is Clemson-Bama III in NOLA, with Georgia-Oklahoma or UGA-Wisconsin the 2-3, in one of the nicest parts of greater Los Angeles. I’ve seen it all, even written a book about it. Drop the game Saturday, and we are heading to the Orange or Peach Bowl. I will be doing a 6th annual The Bowl Show and sure hope I’m talking Georgia in the playoff.
Dawgs wearing white Saturday because the West champ gets to be “Home” in odd years, so it will look a little like it did at Auburn. But the crowd should be 55% + Dawgs. Speaking of close, first played in Piedmont Park Georgia leads the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry 56-55-8. But this can’t really make us even in my book, because Georgia is 2-3 in SEC title tilts and Auburn is 3-2. Only winning here is acceptable, folks. Recall Mark Richt went 13-1 in his second year in Athens and won the SEC. That was the last time Georgia was a favorite in this game, by the way. Five years removed from heartbreak, the Dome is dust. Let’s do this!
Georgia-Auburn games usually have momentum swings. Not on the plains this year. Outside of our opening and closing drives, nothing worked. Meaning we gave them almost nothing on film to correct. We have plenty. Eye discipline and owning your box rather than over pursuit based on eye candy. Working the middle of the field. Blocking and running. Cutting down on penalties and looking the ball all the way in, for starters.
This year has set up perfectly for Georgia all along. Everybody came back. We simply had to win three more games played in Atlanta and one away from our state to win it all, coming into the Tech game. And here I am, California dreaming on an autumn day. And, New Orleans would be no problem. The Big Easy, maybe play Richt, even. Then get Bama back in Atlanta if they shot to 3rd and got through. They come up, say, four yards short, this time.
Gotta win first.
This is the game where Kirby makes his biggest imprint as a head coach. Bama already staked their claim, in the media and on the coaching bully pulpit, to second place in the SEC. After all this promise, are we third?
Or are we number one! GO DAWGS!!!
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