(This will serve as the Georgia live blog when the game starts. We’ll also have a Tech live blog on, as they say, another network.)
ATHENS — Hello and welcome to the last game this season that anybody at Georgia or Georgia Tech will remember.
The Jackets (6-5) still have a low-level bowl game to play. The Dogs (5-6) hope to still have a low-level bowl game to play. But tonight’s meeting is really about the final opportunity for either school to create a highlight in a
mostly miserable season.
As Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said, alluding to the last four years of his senior class: “I don’t know if we’ve left a legacy. But I know if we don’t make it to a bowl game, that will be one legacy that we leave. … We’ve done a lot as a class. But the only thing that matters is how you finish. Nobody going to talk about the Sugar Bowl. They’re going to talk about what we did our senior year.”
Kickoff is still several hours away. But there’s no reason to wait until then to start the banter. This will serve as your live Bulldogs’ blog during the game. I’ll update it later when I get to the stadium.
A few thoughts before kickoff:
♦ Georgia is favored by as much as two touchdowns. Sounds about right. While strange things happen in rivalry games, the only absolute about either team is that the Dogs can put up points, led by the Aaron Murray-to-A.J. Green connection. In the last six games, Georgia has put up point totals of 41 (Tennessee), 43 (Vanderbilt), 44 (Kentucky), 31 (Florida), 55 (Idaho State) and 31 (Auburn). I realize Mike Bobo bashing is a favorite pastime of fans but offense hasn’t been the problem, defense has. And about defense . . .
♦ The only way I see Tech winning this game — other than via multiple Georgia turnovers and penalties — is if the Jackets run for a ton a yards and dominate in time of possession, keeping Georgia’s offense off the field. So the onus is on defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the Dogs’ defensive front. The Jackets are without starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt and their offense isn’t nearly as fluid with backup Tevin Washington.
♦ Tech coach Paul Johnson knows his team is undermanned this game. He’ll have to “steal” a possession or two. So a couple of trick plays, like a fake punt, wouldn’t be surprising.
♦ Neither team has a win over a quality opponent. The difference is Georgia still needs a win to become bowl eligible. If it can’t beat Tech, it doesn’t deserve a bowl. The Jackets had lost three straight until having to scramble to beat 3-8 Duke last week.
Now, about this rivalry. The road school has won the last three meetings. Tech has split two since Johnson’s arrival. But if the high point for this Georgia senior class was going 11-2 and winning the Sugar Bowl in 2007, one of the low points was losing to Tech at Sanford Stadium two years ago.
To punctuate the upset, Jackets’ players tore off pieces of the hedges — something Georgia coach Mark Richt has reminded his players of this week.
“Coach Richt’s definitely been quick to tell us about that,” guard Clint Boling said. “We’ve got pictures all over the locker room. We definitely know what they did last time they were in Sanford Stadium.”
Wide receiver Kris Durham, another senior, said: “That sticks out more to me than [beating Tech] last year. It’s something you remember. You can still Google and see the pictures. They’re very vivid online.
“Those [hedges] are sacred to us. That gets to you a little bit. We didn’t protect our own house. We didn’t protect the hedges. We can’t say anything bad about them tearing up our field because we didn’t prove it between the lines and they did. They beat us.”
OK, that’s it for now. If you missed it, here’s a link to my interview with athletic director Greg McGarity earlier in the week. He’s standing behind Richt and says the coach will be back next season, and I agree. While I’ve been critical of Richt and the direction of the program in the last two years, my view is he has earned the chance to turn this around.
I’ll check back later.