2013 Opener: Georgia – Clemson August 31, 2013

Brief Historical Perspective
The Bulldogs and the Tigers waged their first gridiron battle in 1897. UGA and Clemson have played a total of 62 games against each other, with Georgia leading the series by an all-time count 41-17, with four ties.  At present, Georgia owns a five-game winning streak over Clemson. The two teams last met in 2003, when the Dawgs mauled the Tigers by a score of 30-0.

The Weight of Expectations
It is critical that Bulldog Nation does not still see UGA as being five yards away from a national championship.  It is always fun to dream big, but what happened in 2012 is largely independent of what is to come beginning this Saturday night. Conversely, Clemson carries the weight of being the highest ranked team in the Atlantic Coast Conference to start the season. The much maligned ACC will be roaring for the Tigers this weekend, just as the much ballyhooed SEC will be cheering for the Bulldogs.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney Has Much to Prove
Dabo Swinney has a history of getting very emotional following Clemson wins.  He has never won a BCS bowl game, but his Tigers did win the ACC Championship in 2011. The purveyor of Howard’s Rock parlayed that victory into one of the most embarrassing losses in the history of the BCS, falling to the West Virginia Mountaineers by a final score of 70-33.

The Georgia Bulldogs Must Prove Themselves, Too
The game against Clemson kicks off what will be an extremely challenging stretch for the Bulldogs. Three of UGA’s first four football games are against teams that are ranked in the top 15 according to the preseason polls. Georgia could probably absorb one loss and still accomplish all they set out to achieve  this season.  Even so, starting the new campaign with a defeat at the claws of the Tigers would let a lot of air out of a Bulldog Nation balloon that is pretty high on itself.
Picking a Winner
The defensive issues that both of these teams face have been well documented. When  looking for an edge in this contest, look no further than the conference that each team is representing.  The mighty Southeastern Conference has ruled college football by hoisting the Bowl Championship Series trophy for seven straight seasons.  Conversely, the Charlotte Observer notes that since the BCS was created in 1998, the Atlantic Coast Conference has one BCS Championship to their credit.

I’m going to channel my best Kirk Herbstreit and pick a winner based on what he might say, as a way of judging my own opinion versus the ESPN expert.  Unfortunately, Herbstreit probably will not pick the game because he likely has announcing duties on ABC.  As for Lee Corso, I think that guy started picking games based on which mascot head is more fun to put on years ago.

Georgia walks out of Death Valley a winner on the arm of Aaron Murray and the overall talent of the UGA offense.  The Bulldog defense will make enough stops to pull away from the Tigers in the fourth quarter.  Final Score: Georgia 45, Clemson 31.

Georgia Versus Clemson – Ten Days Away

georgia_clemsonYou Can Cut the Tension With a Knife
With kickoff a mere ten days away, anticipation is building for Georgia’s 2013 season opener against the Clemson Tigers, and concern is starting to creep in between the hedges.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues to report on the Bulldogs depleted defensive backfield.  A game that I previously believed would be an opportunity for Georgia to make a bold statement is now a contest that I hope the Dawgs can find a way to win.

Expect a Shootout in Death Valley
Clemson starting quarterback Tajh Boyd led the Atlantic Coast Conference in touchdown passes in 2012, with 36 touchdowns.  In all likelihood, the Tigers will look to strike Georgia’s secondary early and often, as Boyd also led the ACC in yards per attempt.  The Dawgs must put a lot of pressure on the Clemson signal caller to relieve the aerial assault.

UGA quarterback Aaron Murray had 36 touchdown tosses of his own last year. As he continues to rewrite the Georgia passing record books, the final chapters will be penned beginning on August 31. Murray will be behind a very experienced offensive line that is capable of protecting him and giving him the time he needs to make good decisions with the football.

Unease in Athens
The reality is even if the expected starters are able to make a full recovery by game day, they are still very inexperienced.  Clemson’s offense is nothing if not high powered, and the Tigers have proven that they can score very quickly.  Defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Todd Grantham will play a big role in the outcome of game one.

Georgia and Clemson each have questions to answer in the defensive secondary.  As a result, it is a fairly safe bet that they are going to combine to score 70-80 points before the final whistle blows.  Hell, Clemson gave up 70 points to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl.

The match-up between the Dawgs and the Tigers will end in favor of the team that can win the turnover battle.  According to College Football Statistics, Clemson had a total of 21 giveaways in 2012.  By comparison, Georgia turned the ball over 19 times. With UGA’s young defense, the Bulldogs absolutely have to avoid beating themselves.  Bulldog Nation is eager to take a bite out of Howard’s Rock.

College Football Outside of the South – ACC

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The ACC has not won many rings since coach Bowden retired.

The Atlantic Coast Conference Has Been Atrocious in BCS Games
The ACC has been one of my least favorite conferences to keep tabs on in recent years.  As a result, this post examining a portion of ACC football will center around the conference’s four most important games against the Southeastern Conference in 2013.

ACC Coaching Thoughts
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson may be a triple option guru, but when he loses he becomes an obnoxious oaf.  Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles have not won a big game since Bobby Bowden retired, Unless of course you are absurd enough to count the ‘Noles Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois at the end of last season.

I am looking forward to watching the ACC try to distance themselves from their own mediocrity in 2013. According to Mr. SEC the Atlantic Coast Conference holds a horrid record of 3-13 in BCS bowl games. Furthermore, if this is to be the year that the ACC reasserts itself as a power in college football, then there will be several roadblocks ahead.

Alabama-Virginia Tech
The Hokies are coming off an extremely disappointing year in which they finished 6-6 in the regular season, before defeating Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl to end the year with a winning record.  This year, Virginia Tech has the honor of playing the defending national champion, Alabama, to begin their campaign.

The Crimson Tide have been sitting atop college football for two consecutive years, and it is nearly impossible to believe that a fictional purple turkey is going to knock them off.  Luckily, college football is not played on paper. What a “Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game” it will be if the Tide forgets to roll in.

Georgia–Clemson
I will admit that my opinion on this game is totally biased.  With Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray coming back for his last chance at a championship, UGA has no intention of starting the season in an 0-1 hole.  There will be an offensive shootout in Death Valley, and Bulldog Nation will have the final bark.

Clemson may believe they will defeat Georgia, but history is not on their side.  mcubed, a sports history and statistics website, reports that the SEC went 6-2 against the ACC in 2012.

Georgia-Georgia Tech
Since Paul Johnson broke out his fish frier after his Yellow Jackets skewered the Dawgs for 45 points back in 2008, Georgia Tech has not been able to recapture that magic again.  Johnson was the ACC coach of the year for each of his first two seasons in Atlanta, but downright appalling defense has stung  Tech for a total of 19 losses in the past three seasons.

Georgia wiped the field with Georgia Tech in the final regular season game of 2012. The Bulldogs capitalized on a Georgia Tech fumble at the Georgia one-yard line to gain an early 14-0 lead and never looked back. It was a game that Tech head coach Paul Johnson called “a pretty good thumping.”  If the regular season pans out the way that Georgia fans are hoping for, a similar result should be expected in Atlanta this year.



South Carolina-Clemson
Steve Spurrier (thankfully) has had trouble winning the SEC East in the past two years. Consequently, the Ole’ Ball Coach has had to find solace in making life miserable for Clemson fans every year.  According to Clemson head coach, Dabo Swinney, the Tigers are knocking on the door to greatness, but how can that be if Clemson is not even the best team in their own state?

Despite their advantage of 65-41 (with four ties) in the series rivalry, the Tigers have not beaten the Gamecocks since 2008. The heat between the two schools figures to be kicked up a notch this year, as South Carolina and Clemson are ranked 7th and 8th in the preseason polls respectively.

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Georgia Versus Georgia Tech: 2012 Regular Season Finale

georgia_georgia_techThe Stakes Are High for Georgia Against Georgia Tech
Rivalry week is the focal point for Bulldog Nation as we head into the final Saturday of the regular season. Expectations are sky high in Athens, following two unlikely upsets. As a result of Kansas State and Oregon losing, Georgia is once again in the thick of the 2012 national championship picture.

Georgia Tech Will Play for the ACC Championship
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets venture between the hedges this Saturday with a lot to gain and very little to lose, so I can only hope that the Dawgs do not overlook the Rambling Wreck as the showdown with the Alabama Crimson Tide looms large. For their part, Tech had something to celebrate this past weekend as well—The Jackets clinched the ACC Costal as a result of Miami forfeiting their postseason chances.

Georgia Tech’s Defense is Terrible
Despite winning their division, Rambling Wreck is an apt description for the way Georgia Tech has played during the 2012 campaign. Tech’s offense rambles down the field and then the defense wrecks everything by giving up a ton of points. In week four against Miami, Georgia Tech climbed out of a 19-0 hole to gain a 36-19 advantage against the Hurricanes. However, the Yellow Jackets proceeded to blow a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter before losing to the Hurricanes in overtime.

Georgia Tech averages 39 points per game on offense. However, they give up 30 points per game. The result is a track meet. Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 68-50 a couple of weeks ago in the highest-scoring game in ACC history. As long as Georgia does not get bit by the turnover bug, Georgia should be able to swat the Yellow Jackets. Bulldog head coach Mark Richt is 10-1 against Georgia Tech and 3-1 against Paul Johnson. The Bulldogs are familiar with the option after playing against Georgia Southern this past weekend, so Georgia should be primed for a strong performance in the final game at Sanford Stadium this year.

Georgia Tech Would Love to Ruin Georgia’s Season
Paul Johnson is a man in need of a signature win. Raining all over Georgia’s SEC Championship parade would certainly be enough for Tech fans to forget the ups and downs of this season. The Dawgs must be aware of every possible fake and trick play, because Tech pulling off an upset in this chapter of “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” would catapult the UGA-GT rivalry into a new stratosphere. For what it’s worth, such a result would probably also translate into a busy day downtown for Athens police. Remember, college football preaches sportsmanship, folks.

Georgia Has to Capitalize on Their National Championship Opportunity
Gloom and doom possibilities aside, I expect the Bulldogs to maul the Yellow Jackets on Saturday. The opportunity currently in front of Bulldog Nation is too great to squander at this point in the journey. If Mark Richt is going to be the man to lead Georgia to the Promised Land, Georgia must treat these final three games as a playoff. The first round begins at noon on Saturday.

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Coach Richt is ready to prove he can win a national title without Bobby Bowden.