There are a lot of reasons I would dearly love to see a Georgia win today. First off, it’s been a decade since I’ve seen a Tennessee win in Sanford Stadium. Funny thing about that game is that unlike most Dawg fans who point to the Sugar Bowl loss to West Virginia as the moment when they knew Willie Martinez wasn’t cut out to be the defensive coordinator, it was that 51-33 loss ten years ago that started me thinking he was in over his head.
The Sugar Bowl unpantsing I could excuse because at the time RichRod’s spread was pretty exotic. But the only wrinkle David Cutcliffe introduced into the game was a three-wideout set to which Martinez showed himself totally incapable of finding adjustments.
I’m not digressing here, though, because that leads into one of the lowest points of Martinez’ career at Georgia, the 45-19 loss in 2009 that birthed the Lexicon expression, Beyond Crompton. The author of that debacle was none other than Georgia’s current offensive coordinator.
Both Chaney and Martinez will again be facing off against each other today, albeit the latter in a reduced role. Nevertheless, I would enjoy it immensely if somehow history would repeat itself. So there’s that.
There’s also the sense, as Kirby put it, that Georgia’s season is on the brink. A loss today wouldn’t eliminate Georgia from the divisional race, of course, but it would certainly put the team’s chances on life support. In early October, that’s not a good look. Maybe writers at the AJ-C think a loss will be good for the program in the long run, but in the here and now it’s unlikely to sit well with the fan base, not to mention that it would make it that much harder for the players to buy into what Smart is asking from them.
Plus, there’s something that’s easy to overlook — should the Dawgs pull off the upset today, they become the ones occupying the East’s driver’s seat. Tennessee has to play TAMU and Alabama following Georgia. Even if they go 1-1 with those two, that still leaves Georgia with in effect a two-game lead over the Vols and sets up the Cocktail Party as the division’s key game.
Finally, Tennessee presents Georgia’s players with the basic motivation of having the perfect opportunity to wash the bad taste out of their mouths from the poor efforts that marked both the Nicholls and Ole Miss games. If not today, when exactly?
All of that is my long-winded way of saying that I don’t think Georgia’s on the short end of the intangibles stick, despite the confidence the Vols gained from rolling Florida in the second half last week.
That’s nice, but sadly, I have my real doubts it’s enough to overcome Tennessee’s advantages in the trenches and the nervous feeling I have that Booch stole Gus’ rabbit’s foot. If, as we tend to believe, the SEC is a league where teams with the better lines win, Georgia’s in a hole today, on both sides. And every week I keep saying that Tennessee’s fumble luck is bound to end is a week I see that sentiment pushed off until the next game. At some point, you’ve just got to tip your cap and acknowledge it’s the other guy’s year.
That, I’m afraid, is where I’m at. You can go deep into the weeds with analysis today and come up with plenty of keys to the game, if that’s your thing, but for me, those two issues are more than enough to justify a Tennessee win. Not just a win, but a comfortable one.
Needless to say, I hope the Dawgs prove me wrong. A little pride today could go a long way. Dominant offensive and defensive lines could go a lot longer, though.
Have at it in the comments, guys. I’m about to head out to Athens.