2013 – 2014 Bowl Game Thoughts

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Photo is from 2013.  Result resembles 2014.

24-19: The Dawgs Choke on an ear of Corn
Since the heart of this blog is Georgia football, I feel obligated to discuss the 2014 Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs turned in a slippery and sloppy performance, losing 24-19 in their season finale.  The Nebraska Cornhuskers deserved to win.  For Bulldog Nation, the Gator Bowl left one more stain on a season which started with so much promise.

Excuses and injuries notwithstanding, the Georgia Bulldogs have a long offseason ahead.  Mark Richt and company must work towards getting better on the field without getting in trouble off of it. On a positive note, The University of Georgia won eight games this season.

The Dawgs remained competitive despite an overwhelming number of injuries and bad breaks.  History may not smile on this particular team the way they had hoped, but the 2013 Bulldogs continued the winning tradition associated with Georgia football.

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Too Many Mediocre Bowls

There are too many bowl games.  The 2013 bowl slate featured 35 bowl games.   Despite ESPN’s promotional insistence, Capital One Bowl Week is far from the most wonderful week of the year.  Even die-hard college football fans must have trouble getting excited for the mediocrity that ensues early in bowl season.

Johnny Football is Money
The debate about Johnny Manziel’s off the field conduct may never end.  Still, there is no questioning his will to win. Manziel’s highlight reel performance against Duke resulted in a 52-48 win for Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  By erasing a 38-17 deficit,  the Aggie comeback capped off an unforgettable two year run for “Johnny Football” at A&M.

The former Heisman Trophy winner will be a top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  No matter which team selects him, Manziel is expected to be a franchise quarterback.  Love him or hate him, the legend of Johnny Football continues to grow.

The Bowl Championship Series Goes out With a Bang
With the 2014 BCS National Championship Game in the books, the Bowl Championship Series is no more.  Thanks in part to intriguing match-ups, the BCS went out in style. BCS festivities began with the 100th playing of the Rose Bowl game, which gave college football fans a 28-24 slug fest between Michigan State and Stanford on New Year’s Day.  That same night, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl culminated in a 52-42 shootout between UCF and Baylor.

The Orange Bowl produced another high scoring battle between Ohio State and Clemson.  Clemson picked up the victory while Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes finished the year with back-to-back losses.

Major college football has needed a playoff for some time.  With that said, certain aspects of the Bowl Championship Series will be missed.  The Rose Bowl will maintain some of its luster as a marquee athletic event, but I hate to think the Tournament of Roses will not be quite the spectacle when it is part of the playoff puzzle.

The Streak Ends
Congratulations to the Florida State Seminoles for winning the 2014 National Championship Game.  My disdain for the Auburn Tigers would not allow me to pull for the SEC’s streak of championships to continue.  As a college football fan, I am pleased the better team won. Luck finally ran out in War Eagle country.

College Football 2013 Wish List

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Top Five Wishes for the 2013 College Football Season
Every college football fan in America hopes for certain scenarios to unfold during the course of each college football campaign.  With this observation in mind, I will now reveal my top five wishes for the 2013 season. Be warned, it will be fairly UGA-centric.

5. Johnny Manziel Starts Every Game for Texas A&M
Despite the fact that I defended Johnny Manziel a few weeks ago, I am sick of hearing about Johnny Drama and his off the field buffoonery.  If Manziel has broken NCAA rules he should be punished, irregardless of how one views the validity of his infractions.  I do hope that Johnny Football is deemed eligible to play, because it would be nice to see if he can answer his critics with spectacular performances on the gridiron.

I do dread the possibility that Johnny Manziel’s eligibility will be ambiguous throughout the upcoming season.  The NCAA must be steadfast in their investigation of the goings on in College Station so that the Texas A&M Aggies can move on with or without the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

4. Ohio State Loses a Game in 2013
The Ohio State University is the number two ranked team in the country, and the Buckeyes have one of the easiest schedules in the nation.  Urban Meyer and company do not play even one team in the preseason top 15.  Thank goodness there is a Big Ten Championship Game, because if not, Michigan would be the only roadblock between Ohio State and Pasadena, California.

The Buckeyes do actually play eleven other regular season games, but they are very loose traps that Ohio State could only fall into if they are selling memorabilia for tattoos during the games. Simply looking at the Buckeyes schedule makes me wish the college football playoff would start a year early.  Bottom line: Ohio State plays twelve regular season games, seven of which are against teams who had a losing record in 2012.

3. Georgia Beats South Carolina
Losing to a glorified chicken is terrible but when that poultry is coached by Steve Spurrier, it flat out sucks. Georgia must end South Carolina’s three game win streak against them, because the Dawgs will not go to Atlanta if they drop another one to South Carolina this year.  The good news is that South Carolina has lost a ton on the offensive side of the football.  The bad news is that the Gamecocks still have Jadeveon Clowney, and the Ole’ Ball Coach seems to have a knack for making Bulldog Nation miserable.

Georgia needs to defeat the Gamecocks to win the SEC East because South Carolina has an extremely soft schedule.  If South Carolina is good enough to beat Georgia, they will be hard pressed to lose two other Southeastern Conference games.

2. Please Football Gods, Do Not Allow Alabama to Three-Peat
Fans of the Southeastern Conference seem to be united when it comes to the SEC’s streak of seven straight BCS titles.  If Alabama represents the SEC this year, I might have to go against my gut and cheer for the team that is opposing the Tide.

Furthermore, we would all be subjected to ESPN discussions about whether Alabama is the greatest college football team of all time, while listening to absurd opinions such as  Alabama could beat an NFL team.  The only thing that could make the possibility of another Crimson Tide tidal wave worse is if the championship game also involves Urban Meyer.  The following image should represent every Georgia fan’s worst nightmare.

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1. Please Football Gods, Help Georgia Win a National Championship
Georgia’s loss to Alabama in the 2012 SEC Championship Game served to strengthen Bulldog Nation’s thirst for a championship.  Quarterback Aaron Murray returned to Athens for the pursuit of a national title, and a BCS trophy would catapult Mark Richt into legendary status between the hedges.

Wanting a championship and earning a BCS title are two different animals.  Georgia has a tall mountain to climb, but the Dawgs have the talent to turn back any challenge in the country.  I would give my right arm for a rematch with the Tide in the Georgia Dome come the first weekend in December, but UGA must take care of business in the regular season first.

Defending Johnny Manziel

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Johnny Football has had a Frantic Offseason

Since he became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, Johnny Manziel has been the talk of college football enthusiasts. The kid they call “Johnny Football” is still just that, a twenty year old kid. As a result of his lack of life experience, the Texas A&M quarterback has spent the offseason making questionable choices.  Most of those decisions have been made public by Manziel himself, as he has been using Twitter to tweet  his Heisman winning heart out.

Twitter Tipping Point
There seems to be a discernible moment when Johnny Manziel’s public approval rating shifted from positive to polarizing. The perception of Johnny Football’s character changed drastically after he tweeted “Bullshit like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave college station…whenever it may be.”  In Johnny Football’s defense, those that are now using that tweet as ammunition to knock him down a peg have absolutely no idea what precipitated it.

johnny_football_haircut Johnny Manziel’s new found celebrity has certainly come with a lot of perks, one of which is not the target it put on his back.  After all, Manziel resides in an environment where his peers likely have too much to drink and then approach the Texas A&M star quarterback in search of their own fifteen minutes of fame.

Where the Hell Are the Other Aggies?
Sometimes people need to be reined in.  This principle holds true for almost every human being on earth, and it certainly holds true for a twenty year old kid that can do significant damage to his future with one bad decision.  Somebody in Texas Aggie land needs to protect Johnny Football from himself.   If Manziel has a sophomore slump, the 12th man will not be much of a factor at Kyle Field once the losses start piling up.

According to dallas news, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlan thinks that the Aggies will be fine at the quarterback position.  Apparently, this tongue-in-cheek remark was met with a lot of laughter. Taking a lighthearted approach to Manziel mania is good, as long as both the 2012 Heisman winner and his coaches can do what needs to be done when business picks up on and off the football field.

I am Rooting for Johnny Manziel
As long as he is not playing against the Georgia Bulldogs, I wish Johnny Football all the best.  Most of my peers are chomping at the bit for September 14, when Alabama visits the Aggies.  However, I am hoping that Darth Saban and his Death Star are thwarted once again, while Johnny Manziel becomes the Luke Skywalker of college football by saving the college football world from the evil Crimson Tide empire.

What Does Georgia Need to do to Beat Alabama?

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The Dawgs will battle the Tide for Southeastern Conference supremacy.

Georgia Plays Alabama for the 2012 SEC Championship
Following the upset heard ‘round the college football world against Johnny Manziel and the Aggies of Texas A&M, the Alabama Crimson Tide are expected to put the Auburn Tigers out of their Southeastern Conference misery on November 24 to clinch the SEC West. Conversely, the Georgia Bulldogs dominated the aforementioned Tigers by a final count of 38-0 this past weekend. The victory earned Bulldog Nation a trip to the Georgia Dome to represent the East in the SEC title game for the second straight year.

The Bulldogs Are Not Satisfied With Just Winning the SEC East
Alabama will finish the regular season with a record of 11-1 when they punch their ticket to Atlanta. Led by head coach and master motivator Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide will be hell bent on making the strongest possible case to defend their national championship crown.  Meanwhile, Bulldog Nation is determined to attack the wounded Tide, and secure a spot in a Bowl Championship Series game.  Let us examine what Georgia must do to catch Alabama coming in, as opposed to trying to hang on to the Crimson Tide when they are rolling out.

Avoiding Turnovers Will be Critical for Georgia
For Georgia to have a chance to defeat Alabama, the Dawgs must avoid turning the ball over. In the 2011 SEC Championship against LSU, Georgia doomed themselves by committing three costly giveaways, along with errors on special teams that translated to easy points for the Tigers. Alabama is the top ranked one loss team in the country for a reason, and the Bulldogs must avoid giving the talented Tide football team easy scores.



Georgia Has to Protect Quarterback Aaron Murray
Less than two weeks ago, the Bulldogs gave up five sacks in the first half against Ole Miss. No slight against the Rebels, but if Ole miss found a way to exploit Georgia’s offensive line, Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and company will be frothing at the mouth at the chance to hit the UGA signal caller early and often.

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The offensive line must be stout against Alabama.

UGA Needs to Be Balanced on Offense to Keep Alabama Guessing
Texas A&M was able to defeat Alabama as a result of mixing up run and pass play calls. The Aggies had 253 passing yards, and over 150 yards on the ground. Aaron Murray is not quite as mobile as Johnny Manziel but he can certainly move around well enough to avoid being a sitting target. Furthermore:

  • The Bulldogs must avoid negative plays on offense. If Alabama’s aggressive defense can force Georgia to be one dimensional it will be a long game for Bulldog Nation.
  • Todd Gurley must lead the Georgia rushing attack by being physical and picking up critical yards after contact.
  • Aaron Murray must make all the right decisions with the football. Stephen Garcia is the last quarterback from the SEC East to defeat Alabama, as the South Carolina Gamecocks knocked off the Tide in October of 2010. Garcia completed 17 out of 20 passes for 201 yards in that contest. Those would be ideal numbers for the UGA QB to duplicate.
  • Georgia must keep drives alive by converting on third down. Texas A&M was 11 out of 18 on third-down conversions.
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Jarvis Jones is saving his best for the Crimson Tide.

Defense is Essential to Georgia’s Success
Jarvis Jones is the heartbeat of a Georgia defensive unit that appears to be peaking at the right timeJarvis Jones must lead the Georgia defense and wreak havoc against the Tide.  A dominant performance from Jones will give other players the opportunity to put pressure on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. In addition:

  • No big plays. UGA’s defense needs to make Alabama go the length of the football field.
  • The Bulldog defense must cause as many three-and-outs as possible so that they are able to finish Alabama in the second half.
  • It is critical that Georgia forces A.J. McCarron to beat them throwing the football. When Alabama has to pass, they suddenly become a predictable football team. This observation is not questioning the talent of the Alabama QB, but the Bulldogs will increase their chance to win if Alabama has to abandon their potent running game.

A Win for the Bulldogs Over Alabama is Critical to the Future of Georgia Football Regardless of the Bowl Championship Series rankings, the Georgia Bulldogs have to beat Alabama to legitimize themselves as a championship contender. Consider this: Georgia’s signature win thus far in 2012 is beating a Florida team that nearly lost to Louisiana-Lafayette last weekend at the swamp. The Bulldogs do not need to try to impersonate Texas A&M, but they must be victorious in Atlanta. 

Alabama Losing is Not Good For the SEC’s National Championship Streak

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The phenom nicknamed “Johnny Football” has taken college football by storm.

Alabama Finally Falls
It is safe to assume that nearly every college football fan located outside of Alabama enjoyed watching the Crimson Tide taste defeat this past weekend. After two months of dominating the competition, Alabama has appeared uncharacteristically vulnerable for the past couple weeks. The Texas A&M Aggies utilized a near-flawless effort from their fantastic freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, along with timely defense to stun the Crimson Tide by a final score of 29-24. In all likelihood, the victory by Texas A&M on the road in Tuscaloosa will be remembered as the biggest college football story of 2012.

Kansas State Versus Oregon For the National Championship?
Now that the college football world has recovered from the hangover of this exciting upset, the reality of what is left cannot be very pleasing to supporters of the Southeastern Conference. If the season ended today, the national championship game would feature the Kansas State Wildcats against the Oregon Ducks. The prospect of the fighting Collin Kleins taking on the quack attack of Oregon may appeal to other parts of the country, but it would be a hard pill to swallow here in Dixie.

The SEC Needs a Lot of Help to Compete For a Seventh Straight BCS Title
Fans of the SEC must root for both Kansas State and Notre Dame to lose. Oregon is exempt from this jinx because the Ducks have a good track record in Bowl Championship Series games. If Notre Dame and Kansas State both stumble, the SEC Championship Game becomes a winner-take-all war between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide for the remaining spot in the BCS title game.

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The SEC has been home for the BCS trophy since 2006.

There is Not a Southeastern Conference Bias in College Football
I freely admit being a Southeastern Conference homer. I have enjoyed watching the SEC dominate college football for the better part of the past decade. With that said, perhaps I should accept the fact that the Southeastern Conference dynasty may have an off-year. After all, the rest of America had to sit through a Southeastern Conference-only national championship game this past January. It would be fitting to some fans if the SEC is denied the opportunity to compete for a seventh national championship in a row after the Southeastern Conference hogged both spots in the title game last season.

Bulldog Nation Address (What We Learned From Week Two)

Week two in college football was a put up or shut up week for a number of teams in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M had the perfect opportunity to make a big splash in their first SEC match-up with the Gators. Had the game ended at halftime, the Aggies would have done a cannon ball into the SEC pool. Unfortunately for the “12th Man” in College Station, Texas A&M could not sustain their high level of play for 60 minutes and the Aggies were eventually Gator Bait. Using that pun makes me feel dirty.

Todd Grantham is a fantastic defensive coordinator. If Mark Richt is even considering making this current contract his last in Athens, he would be doing every Georgia fan a favor by keeping Mr. Grantham around as the successor to the Georgia throne. The transition would be seamless and it would be a perfect fit.

Staying with defense, Jarvis Jones had a Heisman level performance on Saturday night. When the season began, I did not think he could top the high level of play he reached last year. I was wrong. Jones has been dominant thus far in 2012, and he The Bulldogs will certainly be among the best defenses in the country when the suspended starters return.

On the other side of the ball Mike Bobo is quietly developing into a great offensive coordinator. Bobo’s commitment to the run game and use of the play-action pass to slow down the fast Mizzou defense was a great strategy. Statistics rarely lie, and the Georgia offensive attack is poised to score a lot of points against a favorable schedule. Mark Richt should be commended for the way he has handled the offensive coordinator position because his loyalty is now paying off.

In other SEC East competition, the Vanderbilt Commodores suffered a deflating loss against Northwestern. If head coach James Franklin wants anyone outside of Nashville to take Vanderbilt seriously, the Commodores have to start winning on a consistent basis. Vanderbilt has a tough road to travel following an 0-2 start.

Alabama and LSU each kept on rolling. In some ways, watching these two teams steam roll everyone else is disheartening, but credit must be given where it is due. LSU and Alabama are firmly perched at the top of the college football mountain, leaving everyone else to try to knock them off.