Over the next several weeks, I will be previewing the 2012 Georgia football schedule as college football is on the fast track to kicking off the regular season. This three part series begins with the focus on the Dawgs’ first four games of the 2012 campaign. The highlight of the opening month will likely be a showdown in the “Show Me State” for Georgia’s Southeastern Conference opener against Missouri on September 8.
Before the Bulldogs come face to face with the Tigers, they begin the year at home against Buffalo. On paper, this is certainly a tune up game but it will be good for the Dawgs to get some of their parts in place before hitting the road in week two. Georgia would be well served to treat the season opener against the Bulls as a dress rehearsal. Bulldog Nation can get an early glimpse of who will step up up at the running back position, and the coaches can decide which side of the ball Malcolm Mitchell can contribute the most. Somewhere in the not too distant past, a Michigan fan had a similar train of thought going into the Appalachian State game in 2007. Remember how well that turned out?
Catastrophic possibilities aside, I will assume that Georgia wins the first game, and begins the year 1-0. Missouri will be chomping at the bit to take a bite out of Bulldog Nation, as suspension and depth issues have left the Bulldogs ripe for the picking early in the year. By the time the final whistle blows, this game will come down to three key factors. First, quarterback Aaron Murray must exercise his turnover demons from a year ago and play a polished game in a hostile environment. Georgia may have to outscore Missouri, and that task will ultimately fall on the shoulders of the signal caller. Second, Georgia must make a few key stops on defense to keep the Tigers at bay. The more out of control the game gets on the scoreboard, the more confident Missouri becomes. Continue reading →
Georgia looks to end the 2011 season where it began
The third Saturday in November brings an opportunity for redemption for the Georgia Bulldogs.The Dawgs host the Kentucky Wildcats with a birth in the SEC Championship game hanging in the balance for Georgia. The Bulldogs have everything to gain with a win, but plenty to lose if they overlook the Wildcats. Sanford Stadium will be packed for Georgia’s final home game of 2011, as the Bulldogs look to punch their ticket back to the Georgia Dome.
Elsewhere in the Southeastern Conference, the regular season is beginning to wind down. Teams such as LSU and Alabama are looking to bring the SEC a sixth straight BCS National Championship, while teams like Vanderbilt are trying to get bowl eligible. The Commodores travel to Neyland stadium to face their in-state rival Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee is 4-6 on the season, and in last place in the SEC East in year two under Derrick Dooley. While the son of the Georgia coaching legend deserves more time to turn things around, the final two games of the Vols’ regular season could go a long way in determining how much longer Dooley Jr. gets.
In other parts of the country, teams are jockeying for position in the Bowl Championship Series standings. #4 Oregon hosts USC in Eugene, and Chip Kelly’s Ducks will be looking to win with style as they audition for the role of the best one loss team in college football. If Oklahoma State or LSU loses before bowl season, the best one loss team is likely to claim a spot in the national championship game.
As for the other team in Oklahoma, The Sooners visit Baylor on Saturday night. The game is Robert Griffin III’s best chance to get back in the Heisman race. “RG3″ has been spectacular this season. However, he does not have enough help to beat the Oklahoma Sooners. Boomer Sooner will eat the Bears.
As for the pro game, The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to their NFC South rival New Orleans Saints. Atlanta is just 1-2 against their division this season. In order to repeat as the NFC South champion the Falcons need to own their division down the stretch. Cue the “Rise up” video.
This week the Falcons host Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans. Atlanta is currently fourth in the NFL against the run, but that stat is misleading given the success that opposing teams have had through the air against the Dirty Birds. Atlanta faces an elite running back for the next two weeks. (Adrian Peterson next week) It is critical that the run defense lives up to their ranking, because it will be tested in the next few outings.
Other Sunday grid iron offerings include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trying to beat the streak as they face the Packers at Lambeau Field. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers may be public enemy #1 for what he has done to Atlanta lately, but it is hard not to admire the astonishing numbers he is putting up this season. Green Bay is 9-0 and a strong candidate to repeat as super bowl champions.
Picks– College Football
USC travels to Eugene, Oregon to face the quack attack. The Ducks will pound the Trojans into submission. This one will be closer than the final score indicates. Oregon 38, USC 21
Arkansas beats Mississippi State, setting up a showdown with LSU next week. Arkansas 34, Mississippi State 13
Tennessee desperately needs to win at home to salvage some sort of pride in a season gone horribly wrong. The Volunteers are 0-6 in conference play. Conversely, things are looking up for the Commodores since Jordan Rodgers became the starter. Vanderbilt wins because they really want to go bowling. Vanderbilt 21, Tennessee 17
Oklahoma goes bear hunting at Baylor Saturday night. Robert Griffin is very talented and may have a future on Sundays. However, Baylor is giving up 36 points per game on defense. Oklahoma 64, Baylor 28
Georgia will clinch the SEC East with a win at home against Kentucky. The Wildcats have been tame, and Kentucky will need to find a quarterback in the off-season to be competitive in the SEC going forward. The Dawgs will win big and complete their road to redemption. Georgia 42, Kentucky 10
The 5-4 Atlanta Falcons host the 5-4 Tennessee Titans in a rare 4:15 Georgia Dome kickoff. Falling to 5-5 in front of a loud Atlanta crowd would be disastrous for the Dirty Birds. Falcons win to stay in the thick of the crowded NFC playoff race. Atlanta 28, Tennessee 17
Tampa Bay Travels to Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is playing quarterback better than anyone else I have ever seen right now. The Packers will take their win streak to double digits. Let the quest for perfection begin. Green Bay 31, Tampa Bay 21
The Redskins and Cowboys renew their rivalry this week. “America’s team” is struggling to live up to high preseason expectations as they sit at 5-4. Tony Romo has to find a way to come up big if the Boys’ are going to make a playoff run. Cowboys beat the Redskins. Washington needs an actual quarterback. Dallas 35, Washington 17
The Giants face the Eagles Sunday Night. G-Men win. Giants 27, Eagles 20
Finally, Kansas City travels to New England on Monday night. Tom Brady’s bunch wins. New England 35, Kansas City 14
The "Mad Hatter" looks to stay on top Saturday night.
With the World Series wrapping up last week, and the National Basketball Association embroiled in a lockout, the eyes of the sports world are firmly fixed on the gridiron for the first weekend of November. College football is expecting an epic tidal wave when LSU and Alabama clash in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night. As for Georgia, the Dawgs have a proverbial cheap date for homecoming, as they host the Aggies between the hedges.
In the pros, the Falcons are coming off of a bye-week as they travel to Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts have not won a game as they have been unable to strike it rich at home, or anywhere else, without franchise quarterback Peyton Manning. Indianapolis would gladly settle for hunting the Dirty Birds, but the Falcons get Julio Jones back this week as they prepare to make a playoff push. It should be an easy weekend for both Dawgs and Falcons alike.
The most important game of the weekend for Georgia football fans will not directly involve the Dawgs or the Falcons. As painful as it is to cheer for Bobby Petrino, it has never been more appropriate. Bob-O and his Razorbacks host the South Carolina Gamecocks in that other Saturday night top ten match-up. If Arkansas can win, Georgia will be in first place atop the SEC East all by themselves with just two conference games to play. No matter which team is victorious, I hope there is a camera man constantly trained on Petrino and Steve Spurrier to catch all the red faced, yelling, and visor throwing goodness that is sure to ensue in this pivotal match-up.
Now for the Saturday Night Main Event–LSU and Alabama finally meet in a #1 vs #2 showdown that the college football world has been waiting for. Both of these teams have been destroying the competition thus far this season. LSU’s closest game was a 13 point win over Oregon. The margin was 20 until the Ducks scored a touchdown with 13 seconds left. The tide has also been rolling as well. with their slimmest margin of victory coming in week two with a 16 point victory against Penn State.
While Trent Richardson is the best offensive player on the field, the Tigers will be up to the task of keeping the Alabama tailback in check. Jarret Lee has made Tiger fans forget his early struggles at LSU, as he has thrown just one interception this year. However, that stat could be a jinx if the senior quarterback is not careful on Saturday night.
Still, I’m going with the visiting Tigers to pull off the upset. LSU currently sits as a five point underdog, but they are a little more well balanced on offense than Alabama. Jordan Jefferson can provide a good duel threat option under center if the Tide swallows Jarret Lee. Alabama and LSU seem to be a notch above everyone else at this point. It is a shame for college football fans that these two juggernauts only get one shot at each other.
Georgia will be without any of their usual options at running back for Homecoming against New Mexico State. Even so, The Dawgs will smoke the Aggies. (pun intended). Georgia 42, New Mexico State 13
Vanderbilt heads to the Swamp where the Gators are desperately looking for something to eat. Jordan Rodgers is fun to watch at quarterback, and no amount of Florida suffering is enough. Poor Will Muschamp– I wonder if he is beginning to long to be back with the Longhorns? Sadly, the Gators will get a much needed win. Florida 24, Vanderbilt 17
The #3 Oklahoma State Cowboys host the #14 Kansas State Wildcats. Oklahoma skinned the Cats last week. The Cowboys will pick up where the Sooners left off. Oklahoma State 48, Kansas State 27
The Razorbacks host the Gamecocks in a contest that is potentially as important to the Georgia Bulldogs as it is to either team playing in the game. Arkansas wins, somewhat soothing the Dawgs’ wound from the four plays of doom. Arkansas 28, South Carolina 24
The “Game of the Century” emanates live from Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Saturday night. The time for talk is over. The Tigers win in a battle that is likely to be remembered as the college football game of the year even after the bowls are over. LSU 24, Alabama 21
NFL quick picks
Falcons win on the road at Indianapolis. Atlanta 31, Colts 10
The Giants and Patriots get it on in a Superbowl XLII rematch. Behold– David Tyree’s catch from that game.
New England 28, New York 17
Denver got a glimpse of how far Tim Tebow has to go in his development as a quarterback against Detroit last week. Tebow is very likeable but that won’t help him bounce back against the Bengals. Oakland 34, Denver 14
The Sunday night game is the best NFL game of the week on paper as the Ravens play on the road at Pittsburgh. The game caps off two great nights of football. Pittsburgh 24, Baltimore 20
Finally, Philadelphia hosts the Monday night game. The Eagles beat the Bears to even their record on the year. Philadelphia 31, Chicago 21
Week seven of the college football season is in the books. A quick summary–two ranked teams were definitively exposed as overrated, (Michigan and Georgia Tech) while Clemson continues to play to the level of their competition. Giving up 45 points to Maryland should alarm Clemson Tiger fans but, they continue to pile up victories. Clemson has a legitimate shot to finish the regular season unbeaten.
The top eight teams in the country remain undefeated and there seems to be a real gap between those teams and everyone else. The Bowl Championship Series standings come out tonight, as LSU and Alabama both have a strong case for #1. Luckily for college football fans, the debate between the two teams will be settled on the field November 5th. Let’s face it, not even Watson is a smart enough computer to predict this collision course. (more on this later)
As for the Georgia Bulldogs, they narrowly avoided a trip to the dog pound. I am going to have nightmares about that blocked punt with 15 seconds to go. That was the single scariest moment I have ever experienced as a fan. One has to wonder if Mark Richt’s Georgia tenure flashed before his eyes as the play unfolded. (Mark Richt is a great coach but a loss in that manner would have been earth shattering.)
Kudos to Jordan Rodgers, younger brother of reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, for one of the gutsiest efforts in Vanderbilt football history. While he only completed four passes out of 19, he carried the ball 11 times for 80 yards. The Commodores scored 21 second half points, and every time they needed a third down conversion he made a play to get it. Vanderbilt has found their quarterback for the future and, while it was scary to watch Georgia struggle, it was fun to watch Jordan Rodgers play well.
Alabama and LSU meet in 20 days. Barring an unforeseen circumstance, both will be undefeated and a trip to the SEC championship game will be on the line. Each team has made highlight reel statements over the last few weeks as if they are sending a message to each other. Trent Richardson’s 76 yard touchdown run rang loud and clear. He has proven why Tide fans did not expect a drop off at the tailback position when Mark Ingram went to the NFL. SEC commissioner Mike Slive needs to see if Michael Buffer is available on the first weekend of November because LSU and Alabama will be ready to rumble.