Georgia needs to finish strong to avoid diminishing season

Mark Richt hopes his team can finish the season better than it has the last two years. (AP photo)

Mark Richt hopes his team can finish the season better than it has the last two years. (AP photo)

ORLANDO – The old comedian Steve Allen once said, “I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That’s how I lost my mind.”

He easily could have been talking about bowl games. As inexact sciences go, they fit somewhere between the “wheel of fortune” and “pick a number between one and 10.”

A college team’s best players often are upperclassmen who already have one foot and an entire head out the door. Some get lost in the vacation atmosphere of bowl week. Some can’t transition back from holiday break. Others just look, play and act like they would rather not be there. It’s why we are left with results like: Central Florida 10, Georgia Holograms 6 in the Liberty Bowl.

For Georgia’s sake, this next bowl needs to be different.

This isn’t some grand declaration that the Bulldogs’ program will be defined by whether or not they defeat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. The turnaround coach Mark Richt has made in the last two seasons should be evidence enough that things are going in the right direction. But should Georgia lose to Nebraska after falling only five yards short of an SEC championship and a BCS title berth, it would take some luster off the season.

Think about last year. Losing to No. 1 ranked LSU in the SEC title game was expected, even after a 10-game winning streak. But losing to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl (blowing a 16-0 halftime and falling 33-30 in overtime) wasn’t so palatable.

Losing to Alabama 32-28 in the SEC title game four weeks ago was crushing for those in and around the program. But in many respects, the Bulldogs might have gained more respect in the defeat than in any victory this season. Losing on Tuesday to Nebraska – which was blown out by Wisconsin 70-31 in the Big Ten championship game and fell to 16th in the BCS rankings — would be a downer Richt would rather avoid.

Think of ending a really nice meal with Aunt Edna’s jello mold.

For a program that preaches, “Finish the drill,” the failure of just finishing the season would become an increasing concern.

Richt was 7-2 in bowl games before the last two losses. When the team started bowl practices, he told players to have fun when the schedule allowed for it. But practice meant practice and meeting meant meeting. For the most part, he liked what he saw.

“I think we did a good job of that,” he said. “Was it good enough? We’ll find out.”

And then later: “I just can’t imagine them not playing with great effort.”

I’ve seldom seen a talented team look worse than the Dogs did at the Liberty Bowl. But after a 6-6 season, it wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Sleepwalking in Orlando after going 11-2 and elevating the team’s fan base would be alarming. It also could leave a hangover returning players would have to deal with.

“We’ve got another opportunity to finish on a high note,” Richt said. “On a personal level, there’s always a scene in the locker room after the game where I’m going to be talking to the team for the very last time. I’ll address the seniors for the last time. You want that last memory to be a good one. That’s a motivating factor for me and I think it probably is for those seniors or anybody else who think this might be their last ball game.”

Quarterback Aaron Murray, who could be playing in his final game if he declares himself eligible for the NFL draft, maintains he and teammates are motivated. He pointed to his own inability to win a bowl game (0-2) and the possibility of the Dogs finishing among the top five ranked teams. “We have a chance to finish out on top, which is something we haven’t done in a couple of seasons,” he said.

The season deserves more than a season-ending face plant.

By Jeff Schultz

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168 comments Add your comment

Buckeye

December 31st, 2012
5:19 pm

Buckeye

December 31st, 2012
5:20 pm

William

December 31st, 2012
5:35 pm

Just win baby

North Ave. Faithful

December 31st, 2012
5:36 pm

Good luck to the dawgs tomorrow, happy new year, the bee’s are whippin some west coast but.

Tom1

December 31st, 2012
5:43 pm

Don’t worry about it Murray, You’re going to the lead this team to a great win. Go Dogs!!

William

December 31st, 2012
5:44 pm

I haven’t played football for forty years but it is hard to understand how you can’t get up for a game. Especially a bowl game. This is an important game for the Dawgs. A win will solidify this as a great season.

Bad Dawg, Bad Dawg

December 31st, 2012
5:54 pm

Problem is Jeff the Dawgs are still crying about the SEC Championship loss 3 weeks later and hoping that sugar will fall from the sky. Just in Tech over USC! Go Huskers!!

Frank

December 31st, 2012
5:57 pm

Remember this year. This will be as close as Georgia will be to a National Championship for a few years…. If they couldn’t win it this year with the easy schedule cant see them winning it any time soon…….

01HAWK

December 31st, 2012
5:57 pm

Look at the TECH vs. USC to see what an inspired team ( GT ) and a uninspired team ( USC ) can do.

USC was not there today. They have superior athletes at almost every position but came out feeling like they should have received a better opponent record wise…………………………..And they got beat.

I was glad to see KIFFIN get beat.

Daddo

December 31st, 2012
6:02 pm

No, they won’t be close again for awhile. Alabama, Florida, LSU and Texas A and M are loaded next year. Plus, there is your annual beating by South Carolina. And you lose all of that NFL-talented defense ranked 77th in the country against the rush. That’s as good as u will ever be.

01HAWK

December 31st, 2012
6:07 pm

I hope UGA players take note of the TECH / USC game.

This may be Kiffins last game at USC. His Father is no longer the Defensive Coordinator either.

Bama

December 31st, 2012
6:08 pm

Well, dawgs- I know it hurts to have been soooooo close! but I’m glad to see you will be in a bcs bow… Um, er, excuse me sugar bowl…., ummmmm, again my bad. Never mind. Hope you guys win (snicker,snicker) your mid tier bowl game. I look forward to congratulating you guys on yet another preseason national championship next year. I’m sure you guys will get a real championship soon, I mean c’mon, Tennessee, Florida, LSU, awburn, and of course bama have done it so how hard could it be? Btw look out, vandy is in the rear view mirror! Bwahahahahahaha! 5 yards from glory, same old story! Bwahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!

Moist Dawg

December 31st, 2012
6:13 pm

Tuscaloosa is a rotting dump. I would rather finish 5 yards short every year than root for a crooked team, with a crooked coach, and worship another crooked coach, and look like a moron in that ridiculous hat.

Bama

December 31st, 2012
6:18 pm

Whatever makes you feel better false bama. Scoreboard, scoooreboooooooard! Bwahahahahaha! For buffoon, please see webster’s dictionary- where there is an entry explaining clock management. Relive the pain dawgs, you’ll always be the 6th best in the sec! You are definitely “little brother” (little cousin actually, we don’t want to claim that close of a relation)

Dawg Fan Stuck in AL

December 31st, 2012
6:22 pm

Does anyone remember when playing in a bowl game on New Year’s Day meant something?

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

December 31st, 2012
6:24 pm

Hope the Dawgs beat Newbraska.

Congrats to GT for a big win. PJ should get some positives out of the zone read from offensive recruits.

Flamboyant Sun Bowl

December 31st, 2012
6:30 pm

Georgia Tech won, but give me USC and 15.

bamaguy

December 31st, 2012
6:31 pm

Let’s hope for an “SEC Sweep” of the bowls. Vanderbilt started us off right. And since Auburn isn’t playing in a bowl game, I am good with a sweep. Do the SEC proud, Dawgs.

dogmoe

December 31st, 2012
6:31 pm

relax—nebraska is terrible. The GA offense should roll to an easy win. Ga 41 neb 13!! Dogs–reload for a 2013 title run!!!

Moist Dawg

December 31st, 2012
6:33 pm

Georgia needs to finish strong…DUH
Now lets get ready for the peach bowl. This should be like watching two 80 year old sisters make out.
I’ll keep my barf bag handy for this game.

Denver Dawg

December 31st, 2012
6:46 pm

“Bama”, you probably sit in your trailer eating twinkies, drinking orange soda and yelling at Jerry Springer on TV. Who do you mean “we” did this, “we” did that, etc????. Can you even throw a football? If by “we” you mean the successful college program you latched onto, just to give your life a little more meaning, go right ahead and keep believing it…. Real Dawgs tip their hat to the Bama players, coaches and staff – NOT to trolling, typing nincompoop wanna-bes like yourself…. Bwahahahaha on that, son….

buck belue

December 31st, 2012
6:51 pm

yea, we dont wanna ruin our annual pre-season # 1 ranking…….

Moist Dawg

December 31st, 2012
6:52 pm

Denver, you’re almost right except for one thing. Real Dawgs don’t tip our hat to anyone. We tip em our middle finger.

01HAWK

December 31st, 2012
6:55 pm

Let’s hope for a clean sweep by the SEC.

Every win helps every SEC school in the rankings. Need to beat Nebraska bad.

Delbert D.

December 31st, 2012
6:56 pm

“Finish strong?” I think that implies a win, not a good effort.

Red Stick

December 31st, 2012
6:59 pm

A loss to Nebraska will certainly take the luster off of a solid season. Hopefully the Dogs show up to play.

Meanwhile, someone please tell classless and pathetic Moist Dawg (what a stupid name btw) that noone is forcing him to watch the Chick-fil-A bowl tonight.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

Moist Dawg

December 31st, 2012
7:02 pm

01hawk, I didn’t know you were such a floriduh, usce, and bama fan. I thought you were a Dawg fan? What a disgrace. You should have to turn in your Dawg fan card.
It’s fans like you that keep us from getting some real respect in this league.
Sickening

Delbert D.

December 31st, 2012
7:07 pm

Strange days. Conference USA finishes 4-1 in bowl games; Georgia Tech punishes USC. Maybe the Mayan prophecy is yet unfolding.

Moist Dawg

December 31st, 2012
7:10 pm

Let’s welcome redstick to the party!
He likes long walks, crooked coaches, and rooting for everyone so that if his team loses he can still feel good about himself.
Enjoy watching the two 80 year old sisters making out bowl.

it is what it is

December 31st, 2012
7:14 pm

what the moron needs to do is SPIKE THE BALL DUH……………………………………..

GENIUSES AT INBREDVILLE AND GENIUSES AT AJC NOT

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 31st, 2012
7:16 pm

Moist Dwag go sniff a good clean dry butt.

Delbert D.

December 31st, 2012
7:21 pm

High on my agenda for next year is taking back the Peach Bowl from the unworthy corporate chicken mogul. I figure we need only 74,999 more signatures.

1969 Graduate

December 31st, 2012
7:24 pm

Win this game and we have a good season. Lose the game and the season doesn’t look all that special. That should be motivation enough for anyone on the Georgia team. I’m not worried about the team.

I am a bit worried about our coaching staff. Didn’t Mark Richt say something about bowl games being exhibition games?

I think we definitely way outclass Nebraska in a position head to head, but motivation is telling. Just look at what just happened in the Tech game. USC phoned it in, or maybe they were just still waiting for Tech to return to the banquet. Anyway, one team had their game head on, and they won.

I think it important to win the game against Nebraska. I want the SEC to win every game they play. I’m tired of people dissing our conference, as if only the elite teams of our conference are any good. Our teams have a chance to demonstrate the superiority of the entire upper half of the SEC.

I look for LSU to come through against the other team from South Carolina tonight.

Go, Dawgs!

Moist Dawg

December 31st, 2012
7:39 pm

1969, exactly who is dissing our conference and why do you give a rats a–? The only superiority any real Dawg fan should care about is UGA superiority. We directly compete for recruits with these loser schools so you want them to fail. If we win all of our games it doesn’t matter what the rest of the sec does.
I swear I’m going to lose my dinner dealing with you Dawg fans with an inferiority complex.

dudley dawg

December 31st, 2012
7:46 pm

Wonder if Earl Chambers might be a good lineman coach? Co-Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Line coach for Valdosta State. Played strong safety at UGA between 1995 and 1999.

GTBob

December 31st, 2012
7:48 pm

I’m so excited that my socks are wet.

GTBob

December 31st, 2012
7:54 pm

What do you doggies think about that big Tech win? It proves we’re the best team in Atlanta. Does anyone want to come over and tickle me?

Techster

December 31st, 2012
8:06 pm

Tech stood tall for Atlanta and the Peach State and won! Beat up Lane “the Liar” Kiffin and his USC Trojans.

sflanagan21

December 31st, 2012
8:22 pm

Dawgs are ready!!! 42-10

Some of you Bama fans are straight idiots! We play the SEC CG 5 times and we win 4 outta of the 5 and ya know it! Explain to me why Bama fans come on a UGA blog and make comments! Do you fools not have a life? I would never go on a Bama blog for any reason what so ever. I could careless what’s going on over there! Y’all chumps need to get a life and get off of our nuts! My guess is all of you Bama fans use to be fair weather Dawg fans and when Bama started winning y’all girls jumped ship. Oh and don’t come back over when the tide changes in the next few years…

Charron

December 31st, 2012
8:30 pm

The poor brokenhearted dwags will never recover from the 32-28 beating by the Tide, bless their wretched hearts.

ARdawg

December 31st, 2012
8:39 pm

Dawgs pound the Huskers into submission early and often.

sflanagan21

December 31st, 2012
8:53 pm

Charron, “beating”? Did you even watch the game fool? Another ex Dawg fan jumping on the Bama bandwagon.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

December 31st, 2012
9:02 pm

If Wisconsin scored 70 there shouldnt be a problem with us scoring at least 40 on the corn shuckers

Resident Georgia Fan

December 31st, 2012
9:21 pm

Southern Cal is the most overrated team in history. I’m glad the bugs beat them.

Bravedawg

December 31st, 2012
9:31 pm

You know UGA has gotten everyones attention when even the morons (like BAMA) come on here and want to try to rain on the parade. If you don’t support the Dawgs, fine. But why are you posting your negative comments on here?? As for the schedule, you can only play the schedule the SEC hands you. And no team is invincible. And no team stays the same for many years, like the NFL. Every team has turnover and star athletes that come and go. It all comes down to recruiting and landing the players that will come together and make a team great.

Here’s hoping the Dawgs finish strong, beat Nebraska, and try to reach the top again next year!!

TMoney

December 31st, 2012
9:36 pm

Let’s get a win and then hopefully AM goes pro. We are better off without him.

Daddo

December 31st, 2012
9:42 pm

350 yards rushing it down your throats is a beating. Without mistakes, Alabama wins by 18-21 points against the Dogs.

GT93

December 31st, 2012
9:49 pm

GATA Dawgs … let’s bring home 2 bowl victories to GA this year!

bubba4dawgs

December 31st, 2012
9:50 pm

I have nothing but praise for Bama in their win over UGA except for the dirty hit made on Murray and the poke in the eye by the UGA player on the Bama player. Bama beat UGA fairly and squarely on the offensive line vs. UGA’s defensive line. It’s just plain and simple, that was the difference in the game. UGA just couldn’t stop their run game! Nuff sed, now get to straightening it out and the DAWGS will be just fine next year. They almost pulled it off anyway which in my opinion shows a helluva lot of heart!!

Mr. Football

December 31st, 2012
9:54 pm

Dogs lose, no doubt about it. Richt is already preparing his post game comments. “They’re a good football team. They just out played us today”. Say what you will about CMR, the man knows how to lose.