The Georgia Bulldogs can clinch the SEC East and a spot in the conference championship game with a win tonight on the road against the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers have become a laughingstock in the SEC less than two years after a national championship, currently stand at 2-7, and have yet to win an SEC game this season. However, if the Bulldogs take this game lightly, they could lose any chance they have of sneaking into the BCS national championship game.
The Bulldogs won’t be in friendly confines tonight when they travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium, and this is the one thing that will be in the Tigers’ favor tonight: being at home. While that isn’t an x-factor and isn’t something a team can solely rely on, it is something that should be noted because the Tigers’ lone win against a credible team (UL-Monroe Warhawks) and their best overall performance of the season (against the LSU Tigers) both came at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Of course both of these games took place in September, but with tonight’s game having higher stakes than the Tigers’ two-point loss to LSU back in September, even that could play into the Tigers’ favor.
Pressure is an amazing thing in the world of college football. Sometimes people have to remember that these are kids and amateurs playing the game. These aren’t professionals, though many of them might as well be and will be in the future, but they are still kids and amateurs at the collegiate level. And no matter how much better one team is than the other, that is what every college football team shares.
So what does this have to do with tonight’s game between the Bulldogs and Tigers? Simple: the Bulldogs will be coming into this game with immense pressure riding on the outcome. They are currently in the BCS top-5 and have an outside shot at making the national title game if they can win out and somehow win the SEC. A loss tonight ends all of that as the Bulldogs won’t even be going to the SEC title game if tonight ends in defeat.
And let’s flashback to that LSU game. This was easily the best performance of the year for the Tigers (and that includes their two wins). LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger was a non-factor in this game, though he should have been considering the ease in which quarterbacks have been able to exploit the Tigers’ defense this season. Yes the Tigers’ offense was also not that big a factor in the game (shut out in the second half), but they never buckled and let the game turn into the runaway that everyone was expecting. And how about this to blow your minds: the Tigers were up at the half! It ended up being the LSU running game that won this one for them by rushing for 182 yards and they needed every one as their only score of the second half was a field-goal in the third quarter. The game ended up being a defensive stalemate after that and LSU escaped.
I’m not saying that it’s going to be deja vu tonight when the Bulldogs and Tigers collide. I am saying, however, that history gives people lessons to be remembered and to learn from them. And that goes double when it’s recent history. And with the Bulldogs’ trip to Jordan-Hare tonight, a gaze into the Tigers’ recent history will tell Mark Richt, Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Jarvis Jones, and all the rest of the Bulldogs that this team may be terrible, may be a laughingstock, but when they feel the urgency and see that enormous upset in their grasp, they are capable of getting it. They nearly got it earlier this year when LSU came to town. Tonight, they have a chance at an even bigger upset. The Bulldogs have been warned to bring their A-game and not leave anything to chance, otherwise they could be in for a real fight.