The SEC championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff is on the line as the 11-1 Dawgs get another shot at red-hot Auburn in Mercedes Stadium…
Here is the downer of the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
Coming off an epic 38-7 dismantling of Tech, there isn’t much time to enjoy that Governor’s Cup state championship dismantling of the arch-enemy.
There will be time once this season is done.
There are at least two more huge games to go. Maybe three … and if dreams come true, three more victories. That would produce a national championship.
But as this team has done all season, the focus has been on the coming week, and Saturday the Bulldogs have a chance to win the 13th SEC Championship, which would tie Tennessee or the second most in conference annals.
This regular season has been a beautiful dream – the triumph at Tech the crescendo. For your faithful columnist, a lifelong Bulldog fanatic, this has been the most enjoyable Georgia football season since 1982, when the Bulldogs enjoyed a perfect 11-0 regular season, won a third straight SEC title and was punctuated with Herschel Walker’s Heisman Trophy. Unfortunately, that dream season ended with a heart-breaking loss to Penn State in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.
There are a lot more games required to win conference and national championships in this conference championship game, 12-game regular season and playoff era.
So as we look towards this Titanic rematch with Auburn – who handed the Bulldogs their lone loss of the season, 40-17 on the plains three weeks ago – the Georgia faithful should take stock of just how special this season has been by taking in some pretty impressive numbers.
The margin of victory is huge for a multitude of reasons. Georgia’s 24-10 win over South Carolina on November 4, a series littered with games decided by single digits, is the Bulldogs 10th largest margin of victory this season. Nine times Georgia won by at least 21 points.
The vengeance tour was especially sweet. Last season, those three losses at home, in particular, were mighty painful. But like the famed Phoenix that engulfed itself then rose from the ashes, those disappointing Saturday’s helped serve as the organic filaments for what the Bulldogs have done in 2017. Had those losses not happened, in particular, the gut punch the Saturday after Thanksgiving a year ago, Georgia wouldn’t be where it sits right now. When Tech’s players were ripping out the hedges and trashing the locker room, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb decided they were not going out like that. It gave a huge stamp of approval to the outstanding young head coach Kirby Smart and certainly gave a boost to recruiting. They came back to do something special and to right some things gone wrong the last few years. The four teams on the schedule this season that beat Georgia a year ago – Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Tech – the Bulldogs shellacked that quartet of annual foes by a count of 166-28, an average of 42.5 to 7.0.
That 38-7 victory on The Flats last week is Georgia’s ninth straight on Tech’s campus, the longest streak of any sort in series history. It was a sweet day for the Bulldogs, and those sparkling veterans, along with a slew of talented underclassmen, truly shined. Handling the other two traditional powers from the SEC East and what followed serves as a testimony to the excellence and stability in Athens. The Bulldogs drilled Tennessee 41-0 and pounded Florida 42-7. Both the Volunteers and Gators won only four games and fired their coaches.
The future is bright … the future is now.
The SEC championship and a berth in the college football playoff is on the line.
Auburn stands on the other side, and though the Tigers have lost twice, close games at Clemson and LSU, they are viewed as the hottest team in the country. Hey, when you beat both of your big rivals, when both of your big rivals are ranked No. 1 in the land, in a three week period, the Q-rating goes through the roof.
Longtime Georgia fans know that no team in history has taken more from the Bulldogs. Auburn wins over outstanding Georgia squads at least a half-dozen SEC championships, spots in major bowls, cracks at national championships and an undisputed national title.
Brutal losses in 1942, 1971, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1997, 2004 and 2005 are all gut punches.
The difference this year, Georgia gets a rematch.
If the Bulldogs can win that rematch – which will be the seventh in the history of the SEC Championship Game – then this dream season will add an SEC championship banner and berth in the College Football Playoff.
Of the six previous rematches, only once has the team which lost the regular season game, come back to win the title tilt. That was LSU against Tennessee in 2001. Amongst the five who lost twice, Georgia in 2003 to LSU.
Both Georgia and Auburn are sitting on top of the world after what happened last weekend. But now the stakes are even higher.
For the winner, the dream continues.
Perhaps this tremendous Georgia football team, which has been touched by fate, can make some more dreams come true.
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