It’s kind of hard to believe we’ve already arrived at “Clean Old Fashioned Hate” week.
Indeed, it seems like it was just a short time ago that the 2017 version of the Georgia Bulldogs were teeing the ball up at Sanford Stadium for the opening game of the season with the Appalachian State Mountaineers, with an eye on a longed-for trip to Notre Dame the following week.
But yes, we have surely arrived at late November, to the last regular-season game of this football season as on Saturday at high noon at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets will stage their 110th meeting with Georgia boasting a series lead of 65-39-5.
And while the season has literally flown by, it has been a most pleasant flight for the Dawgs of second-year head coach Kirby Smart. Did you think back in late summer that Georgia would enter the Tech finale with a chance to cap the regular slate with an 11-1 record and a ticket to the SEC Championship Game tucked in the Bulldogs’ pockets? Not me!
Yes, I did envision Georgia winning a less-than-powerful East Division title this fall but the Bulldogs whipping every foe except one in just Smart’s second season at the UGA helm while coming off last season’s so-so 8-5 mark, I didn’t quite see the Bulldogs accomplishing quite that much.
And for Georgia to dominate nearly every team it faced — the two obvious exceptions being a spine-tingling 20-19 win at Notre Dame and an inexplicable 40-17 loss at Auburn — well, these Bulldogs put themselves for most of the season in the discussion of the best Georgia football teams ever.
But this team has yet to finish the ‘017 race. The final chapter of the Bulldogs’ sterling season hasn’t yet been written. For Georgia to make this a glorious ending, it must defeat the hated Jackets Saturday on the flats and cap that 11-1 season over the regular course of games. The Bulldogs must then surge into the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium the following Saturday and find a way to conquer either Alabama or Auburn in the SEC title game … a victory that would catapult Georgia right into the four-team College Football Playoffs with the school’s first national championship since the fall of 1980 clearly in sight.
But, of course, none of that will be possible if the Bulldogs don’t take care of the Yellow Jackets Saturday afternoon. Sure, Georgia will still be playing for an SEC crown — the Bulldogs’ first in 12 years — but any hopes of still making the coveted post-season playoffs will have flown out the window with a loss to Georgia Tech.
And, hey, even if this Georgia team hadn’t captured the East title this season with still so much to play for, there would still be plenty of motivation for this Bulldog senior class to take down Tech. Remember that bitter 28-27 last second defeat to the Jackets last season in Sanford Stadium and how the Tech players ripped off pieces of the hallowed hedges and stuck them between their gold and white teeth? And remember how Paul Johnson’s team has now whipped the Bulldogs two out of the past three seasons, despite Georgia out-recruiting Tech all over the map and definitely fielding vastly superior talent?
Another loss to the Jackets on Saturday would indeed be unacceptable to the Bulldawg Nation fan base, especially a loss to this Tech team which stands only 5-5 on the season and was blown out last weekend by a Duke team that had lost six consecutive games.
I don’t think it’s going to happen. With Chubb, Michel and Swift gouging the Jacket defense for big chunks of real estate, with Jake Fromm and his receiving corps balancing out the attack with clutch completions and with Georgia’s stellar defense disrupting Tech’s patented triple-option offense throughout the contest, the Bulldogs bark into the SEC championship tilt with a solid 37-17 swatting of the Jackets.
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