In my youth, I grew up watching the Georgia Bulldogs. Yes, I am plenty old enough to remember the dramatic over-the-top leaps into the end-zone of Herschel Walker and the famous “Run Lindsay Run” broadcast of Munson.
Many Dawg fans refer to that time period as “the glory days” of Georgia football. Ahhhh yes…. Vince Dooley and the 1980 National Championship title. Three names that will forever live in the heart of every Bulldog fan… Dooley, Walker and Munson.
Unfortunately, ever since the early1980′s, the Bulldogs have been struggling to get back to national prominence. As the years have passed since that spectacular 1980 undefeated season, the University of Georgia has had three head coaches: Ray Goff, Jim Donnan and currently Mark Richt.
When the Bulldogs were able to snatch Richt away from the wings of Bobby Bowden at national powerhouse Florida Sate, the Dawg Nation smiled.
People knew what Richt had accomplished with the Seminole offense but now he was given the reins to a new team. He was given a chance to make his own mark in the touted SEC as a head coach. He was given a chance to earn the hearts of those that bleed red and black.
For the most part the “Richt years” have been prosperous with several double-digit win seasons, a pre-season #1 ranking (2008), and tons of talent making splashes in the NFL.
The Dawgs have been to 10 bowl games since Richt has been head coach albeit with the lackluster showing last year in a loss against the University of Central Florida by a score of 10-6 in the lowly Liberty Bowl.
The inability of the Dawgs offense to not score a single touchdown against a Conference USA team had many calling for Richt’s resignation or more visible was the ever increasing complaints about Mike Bobo’s horrendous play calling as offense coordinator.
When the 2011 season began, fans were shaking their heads after two consecutive losses, one to Boise State and the other to South Carolina. I was even beginning to think that if the Dawgs don’t win and win BIG, Richt would be out of here.
However, a 59 point shellacking of Coastal Carolina set off a five game winning streak, including a 20-12 thumping of Tennessee in Knoxville. The Bulldogs hope to continue this week against arch rival Florida.
Georgia comes into this week’s match-up ranked #22 in the nation by the Associated Press. They are also ranked #22 by the current BCS standings.
More surprising than the rise of Georgia is the fall of Florida, who finds themselves not ranked in the top 25 AP, and not ranked in the BCS standings. Long gone are the days of Urban Meyer and Florida’s SEC dominance.
Since 1904, Georgia has played Florida 89 times, winning 47 of those matches and dropping 40 (according to UG historical football records).
The game this weekend is critical to the successful outcome of the season for the Bulldogs as a win will set them up nicely for an opportunity to play in the SEC title game vs either Alabama or LSU.
With prayers and a little luck, circumstances will tell the tale as another conference loss by the University of South Carolina can spell doom for the Gamecocks who currently sit at the top of the SEC East.
The remaining schedule looks pretty favorable for the Dawgs to make a run at the title game. After this week’s game Georgia plays host to New Mexico State, Auburn and Kentucky before making the short trip to Atlanta to take on the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech.
Several key wins could vault the Dawgs up the polls and land them in a big time bowl even if they don’t make the SEC title game.
The late Al Davis said, “Just Win Baby!” and that’s exactly what Georgia needs this weekend…a win. My prediction is Dawgs 24, Gators 18.