FL/GA is STILL a Big Deal

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs
Tags: , , , ,

This year’s Florida-Georgia game is attracting little national attention, and that’s understandable.

Georgia is ranked No. 21 thanks to five straight victories and is still in the hunt for the SEC East Division title, but after the season-opening beatdown by Boise State no one considers the Bulldogs to be anything but a better than average team. Besides, if they win the SEC East, what kind of chance do they have against either Alabama or LSU?

Florida has lost three straight and has looked a lot like Vanderbilt in doing so. The average score against Alabama, LSU and Auburn? 32-9! Ouch!

But none of this means the game isn’t important. Florida-Georgia is one of the great rivalry games in college football history. It is one of only three games annually played on a neutral site. (Oklahoma-Texas and Army-Navy are the others.) It is, for Pete’s sake, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

And there’s more. UGA Coach Mark Richt’s job likely is on the line. Can Richt lose to the underdog Gators again and keep his job in light of how the Dawgs have played the last two seasons? Highly doubtful. He’s 2-8 against the Gators. A victory over Florida doesn’t even assure Richt he’ll keep his job. It probably will take an SEC championship – not just a championship game appearance – to convince Georgia to keep him.

Obviously first-year Gator coach Will Muschamp doesn’t have to worry about losing his job, but the list of those doubting Muschamp is growing, and it will grow even more with a loss to Georgia. Steve Spurrier beat Georgia in his first season as Florida’s coach. Ditto for Ron Zook. Ditto for Urban Meyer. The Gators have won 17 of the last 20 meetings.

Gator coaches – even those who’d never been a head coach before landing in Gainesville – ARE expected to beat the Bulldogs.

This game and the remainder of the season are important for Muschamp. Was he ready to be a head coach of an elite program? Does he have what’s necessary to be a successful head coach? Will his over-the-top intensity work?

Indeed, it is reasonable to question his hiring. Certainly Gator Nation has to be concerned whether their beloved team is in for a bumpy ride over the next few seasons. Every elite program hits bumps in the road. The truly elite ones get right back on track. Can Muschamp get the job done?

The next several weeks won’t answer that question, but they’ll give us a better insight in what to expect.

For this week, at least, I don’t think Gator Nation will be happy with what they see. Even if John Brantley returns from injury and quarterbacks the Gators – and I remain doubtful he will — Georgia wins, 28-17.

Quik pix: Okay, okay, I’m now onboard with Dabomania at Clemson and expect the Tigers to remain unbeaten by winning at Georgia Tech; Oklahoma is reeling from last week’s loss, but the Sooners bounce back big and whip host Kansas State, knocking it from the unbeaten ranks; Stanford also falls from the unbeaten, losing at Southern Cal; and Illinois’ season gets a boost as the Fighting Zooks win at Penn State. Last week: 2-3 (20-15 overall).

Check out Blabbermouth’s college points spreads on the “Lamm at Large” page.

 

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