Han Vance on American college football: Rivals Ranked. As I do every offseason, I’m looking here at Georgia versus the rivals. The SEC as a whole and Georgia individually are each loaded up with rival opponents. The biggest three for UGA always remaining Florida, Tech and Auburn, as they are the historic ones. History matters that much at the University of Georgia (1785).
- Florida – The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at JAX is the top annual regular season event in college football, only rivaled at all by the Red River Showdown, played between Texas and Oklahoma at the old Cotton Bowl, and the Army-Navy Game, which changes locations. Georgia can finally stake a claim again, winning four-of-seven. Three of those were quarterbacked by Floridian Aaron Murray, and Kirby is 1-1. After the past season’s outclassing by the river, they changed coaches immediately. Dan Mullen comes over from Miss State, taxed with a return to the glory years of the Mighty Gators. He won only 60% of his games at Miss State, but has coached Dak Prescott, Tim Tebow!, Nick Fitzgerald and had some pretty big years when the right quarterback was at the helm. Starkville is a tough place to have huge success. Gainesville isn’t.
- Georgia Tech – The Governor’s Cup will be played in the Classic City this season, Tech astoundingly having won Between the Hedges on consecutive trips. No further motivation is needed in-state.
- Auburn – Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry swung Georgia way a baker’s dozen years ago – Dawgs taking 10-of-13, often in convincing fashion. Georgia netted a thirteenth SEC championship (now tied for 2nd-most in SEC with UT) by winning in Atlanta. Georgia has a two-game series lead. Dawgs still relatively way up in both the Florida and Tech series makes this series even more meaningful. Georgia took an extra road game, which ended up being the Prayer at Jordan-Hare, to save the ancient series. AU haven’t won in Athens since an ’05 miracle and visit November 10. I’d like to see Auburn moved to the SEC East for Mizzou, in a simple geographic and league scheduling solutions scenario.
- Tennessee – Down. With Butch out and them having peaked then folded nearly as fast as Florida once we Hobnail booted them in Knoxville. The SEC East literally collapsed to Kirby’s might, early in year two, after an 8-5 rookie campaign. It was awesome!!! UT tries to return to their roots, too, in hiring Phil Fulmer as AD and grabbing one-time Georgia D-coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as head coach from Alabama. A defensive genius, Pruitt is easily the least polished coach I’ve ever seen give a presser. The Vols hold a 23-22-2 edge in the relatively young series, leading by either the Hail Mary in Athens or the bad Chubb blow up at Rocky Top, take your pick. Both were such nightmares for Georgia fans.
- South Carolina – The Chickens claim to be Georgia’s primary challenger this year in the SEC East, but as they’ve won it only once, before being demolished by “$CAM” in the championship game, they aren’t ready. Sad that Georgia is considered South Carolina’s second-biggest rivalry, to Clemson, of course, and is Georgia’s fifth. Sad for them. My classmate Will Muschamp made them immediately competitive and gets Debo back. I’ll be at the Border Bash in Augusta on Friday, September 7th, which the pep event gets more Dawgs fans on the years in which the team plays at Carolina. It’s always well-attended by both schools’ area fanbases.
- Alabama – Barely busts in the biggest games and bad blowouts. This border rivalry is ascending regionally, nationally, locally here in Atlanta. John Livingstone, an FSU fan, commented to me in the Virginia Highland neighborhood: “Next time you have them down, step on their throats.” A fellow poet Sean Scharbach, this man a Hurricane Katrina refugee who never left Atlanta, “Was it soul crushing?” …That’s the emotion around this growing rivalry.
- Clemson – The nearest proximate geographic rival to campus in Athens, a few miles closer than Tech. They won a national championship.
- Ole Miss – We used to play every single season and feature the two best tailgating cities on the planet. Ol’ Georgia is older than Ole Miss.
- LSU – Georgia visits the Bayou Bengals on 10/13, hoping not at nighttime, which would mean CBS would have to make it the 3:30. Could be second of doubleheader for the network then, meaning it would still be Death Valley at night. Calling a Georgia win right now if it’s a day game, where LSU doesn’t do nearly as well winning-percentage wise. The national prognosticators have them having a down year in 2018. Georgia and LSU have played for the SEC championship three times (Dogs 1-2).
- (Tie) Vandy, Kentucky, Missouri – Mizzou probably have a better chance to be a real rival in the future if they do stay mis-located in the SEC East, than Vanderbilt or the Big Blue, who simply aren’t football schools.
Facebook: Big Hairy Blawg / Twitter: @ h a n v a n c e