I think it’s a fairly widespread feeling among our fans that, for whatever reason one might choose, Georgia didn’t show up against Texas in its final game of last season.
My pick would be the disappointment of having to settle for a top tier bowl game instead of the CFP semi-finals. Georgia went from being a team that most considered one of the nation’s four best to one that couldn’t get past a Texas team that dropped a game to Maryland. The stakes, in other words, weren’t big enough to hold the players’ attention.
While there’s a certain echo in that to a game earlier in Kirby Smart’s career, Alabama’s embarrassing loss to Utah in the ’09 Sugar Bowl, what’s kind of interesting is how the Tide has gotten to the point where losses on even the biggest stage are blamed on mindset, instead of the quality of the opponent.
In response to that, Dan Wolken makes a good point.
Ohio State beat Alabama, 42-35, in last season’s Sugar Bowl, advancing to the College Football Playoff national title game and eventually winning the national championship.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is obviously still a little sore about that loss, and he’s not too happy with … the NFL Draft?
Saban said Wednesday at SEC Media Days that with his players receiving their NFL Draft grades from the league two and a half weeks before the Sugar Bowl, some of them played not to get hurt in that crucial game against the Buckeyes. He even went as far to say that those draft evaluations screwed with the Tide’s team chemistry.
I don’t know if you should chalk that up to arrogance, being jaded or simply a weird form of player motivation, but, damn, I hope Georgia never reaches that stage.