Archive for the ‘Georgia Bulldogs’ Category

Crystal Ball Friday, Week No. 1:

Each Friday I will predict selected college and pro football games. I’ll always include the Jaguars game. Florida and FSU games will be included when they play respectable opponents.

Florida (1-0) at Texas A&M (0-0) – It’s difficult to imagine the Gators looking as bad as they did in their opener. The Aggies have a new coach in Kevin Sumlin, an offensive whiz, as they begin play in the SEC. The Aggies are worried about their defense, but can the Gators score enough against any major team? A&M, favored by 1½, win 24-10.

Georgia (1-0) at Missouri (1-0) – The Bulldogs give their host a rude welcoming to the SEC. Missouri has some talented skill player, but it will get pounded on the line of scrimmage. Georgia, favored by 3½, wins 35-17.

Vanderbilt (0-1) at Northwestern (1-0) — An SEC bottom feeder is better than a Big Ten bottom feeder. Vandy, favored by 3½, wins 28-24.

Auburn (0-1) at Mississippi State (1-0) – The War Eagles fall continues. The Bulldogs win the battle as the SEC West’s fourth best team. Miss State, favored by 3, wins 27-20.

North Carolina (1-0) at Wake Forest (1-0) – The Tar Heels are on probation for a reason. They cheated. Good news is cheating helped them get talent, more than Deacons. UNC, favored by 8½, wins 35-14.

Jaguars (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0) – These are considered two of the NFL’s weakest teams and it’s difficult to argue otherwise. Jags seem headed in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go. I just can’t get the image out of my head of Viking DE Jared Allen crushing Jag QB Blaine Gabbert time after time. Vikings, favored by 1½, win 21-17.

49ers (0-0) at Packers (0-0) – Many expect a rematch for the NFC title. It’s classic defense (49ers) vs. offense (Packers). It is an offensive game now, but I see an upset because the 49ers have improved more on offense than the Packers have on defense. The 49ers, 5½ underdogs, win 28-27.

Steelers (0-0) at Broncos (0-0) – Peyton Manning’s is back, albeit in a strange uniform. I’m betting he looks almost as good as a Bronco as he did all those years as a Colt. The Steelers’ once ferocious defense has gotten old quickly. Broncos, favored by 2, win 27-21.

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.