Signature Losses & The University of Georgia Bulldogs

Signature Losses
Let’s discuss signature wins losses in the Mark Richt era at the University of Georgia, primarily focusing on the years 2007-2012.  Pundits often hype ‘signature wins’ for football teams, but I think it is time to acknowledge UGA Bulldog football in recent years has been marred by what I choose to call the ‘signature loss’.

Some observations first:

  • Every team loses. It is the ‘way’ UGA loses, and the ‘who’ UGA loses to that is discouraging.
  • Just like the evaluation of the UGA-South Carolina blowout last night, this is not evaluation as to the possible answers to how Georgia Bulldog football teams can stop losing games.
  • The desire is not to pour salt on the wounds of long-suffering UGA fans.
  • In a given year, the schedule for Georgia features approximately 4 or so easy wins (Florida Atlantic, Buffalo, etc.), 4-6 ‘should wins’ (Kentucky, Vandy, down years for rivals…ie Tennessee and Auburn the past couple of years), and 2-3 games where we truly find out if the Bulldogs are ‘legitimate’ championship contenders.

Qualifying for a Signature Loss
Losing a game that truly matters in a way that is humiliating and embarrassing surely qualifies as a ‘signature loss’.  Losing to a sorely over-matched opponent qualifies as a signature loss as well.  Finally, the games that are played listlessly, with hints of quitting (think UCF loss in 2010).

2007 Signature Loss: 
Tennessee 35 – Georgia 14.

I wonder if this loss was the beginning of a worrisome habit of Mark Richt teams to not only lose, but get embarrassed in big games.  UT scored on it’s first five possessions. “They beat us soundly today,” Richt said. “Both sides of their line handled us, and they didn’t have to do much in the second half.”  Sound familiar? It should, since Richt said almost the exact same thing in his press conference about the South Carolina whipping last night…five years later.

2008 Signature Loss: 
Alabama 41 – Georgia 30.
If any one game can define the divide between the Richt ‘good years’ and the Richt ‘disappointing years’ it is the embarrassment in Athens in 2008.  A motivated and spirited Alabama team announced the arrival of the Nick Saban era by humiliating Georgia (Alabama led 35-0 at half-time).  This game proved not to be an aberration, as UGA has lost virtually ‘every game that matters’ since…while the Crimson Tide have rolled to multiple national championships.

2009 Signature Loss(es): 
Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky

The real slide begins to gain momentum.  Contrast the opening game loss to Oklahoma State (24-10) to the absolute destruction of Boise State by Georgia in 2005 (48-13).  In 2005, UGA was a proud program, delivering the news to Boise State that the Broncos were not ready for the big boys.  A limp performance against Oklahoma State signaled worse to come.

Tennessee 45 – Georgia 13 before 103,000+ at Neyland Stadium.
Florida 41 – Georgia 17.
Kentucky 34 – Georgia 27.

Down year? Sure, all teams have down years…but a pattern is emerging…

2010 Signature Loss: 
Colorado 29 – Georgia 27.
I could have picked the listless loss to the University of Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl, but I reckon losing to a Colorado team that ended up 5-7 is my choice.  Both losses were embarrassing (we NEVER used the words embarrassing in the Dooley years, but that is ancient history now I guess).  It is not the losses; it is losing ‘the Georgia way’, which seems to be characterized by lapses in discipline, sloppy play, and I am sorry to say, a lack of resolve to overcome.

2011 Signature Loss: 
Boise State 35 – Georgia 21
Georgia seems to thrive in serving as lambs to the slaughter for ‘programs on the rise’.  It’s like the opponents think to themselves…’hmmm, we need a big-time program that will give us credibility with a win but that will reliably take the fall in a spectacular way…hey, let’s schedule a game with UGA.”

2011 in some ways can serve as the iconic example of Mark Richt’s teams these past 7 or 8 years:  Beat up on patsies, lay down for the big boys.  Georgia won 10 games in a row but lost all four that truly mattered: opener versus Boise State; key SEC battle against chief rival in the East, South Carolina; SEC Championship; Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State that revealed UGA coaches as pansies at the end.

2012 Signature Loss: 
South Carolina 35 – Georgia 7.

Steve Spurrier has crafted something over there at South Carolina.  Perhaps the most embarrassing loss of the past decade for Georgia, losses like this give credence to every critic who hails UGA as over-rated and poorly coached.

There you have it…a brief history of our choices for signature losses during the Mark Richt era.  At some point, we will look at the ‘why’ of these disappointing years.

Related posts:

  1. What will be the measure of UGA’s 2011 football season?
  2. Georgia Bulldogs 2012 Schedule Preview – Part Two
  3. Georgia-Florida 2011- The Bulldogs’ Road to Redemption Goes Through Jacksonville
  4. Georgia Bulldogs Extend Contracts for Mark Richt and Todd Grantham
  5. The Four Plays of Doom – Georgia Bulldogs vs. South Carolina Gamecocks 2011

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