Why I’m glad the Dogs are opening with Oklahoma State

I’ve heard a number of fans bemoaning how Georgia’s killer schedule is getting off to a particularly tough start with an on-the-road opener against a Top 10 team. But as my son and I were discussing, that’s really a good thing, because Georgia seems to have its best years under Mark Richt when it schedules a hard (or supposedly hard) opener.

In contrast, a season where they open with a patsy generally has seen Richt teams underperform, or at least not be quite as successful.

What was the best opening win under Mark Richt?

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Here’s how it’s gone so far:

In 2001, the Dogs opened Richt’s first season with a patsy in Arkansas State and wound up with an 8-4 record (admittedly not bad for a rookie coach’s first year) and a loss in the Music City Bowl.

The next year, 2002, Georgia opened with a tougher opponent, traditional rival Clemson. That season ended in an SEC championship.

Clemson again was the opening opponent in 2003, a road game for the Dogs. Georgia won the SEC East title that year.

It was back down the ladder in 2004, opening with 1-AA Georgia Southern. Now, that certainly wasn’t a bad year, what with a 10-2 record, a demolishing of LSU and a win over Florida, but the Dogs did not meet expectations because they did not win the SEC East, losing to Tennessee and Auburn.

In 2005, Georgia opened with a highly touted visitor from out West, Boise State. Another SEC championship season.

The 2006 season opened with one of those directional patsies, Western Kentucky. The Dogs finished 9-4, with two of those losses to Vandy and Kentucky.

In 2007, the opener was another hyped opponent, Oklahoma State. The Dogs didn’t win the SEC East that year, but they did make it to a BCS Bowl, the Sugar, and wound up the year as the No. 2 team in the country.

Then last year, the preseason No. 1 Dogs opened in what was perceived as underwhelming fashion against 1-AA Georgia Southern. And, again, a disappointing season, despite 10 wins.

Of course, the theory isn’t perfect. After opening with a win over a supposedly tough opponent in 2007, Georgia lost the very next week to South Carolina. And in 2004, after beating a weak opening opponent, the Dogs didn’t lose again until October and had played their best game (LSU) before losing to Tennessee.

And it’s oversimplifying to say that the difficulty of the opening opponent sets the tone for the whole season. The unsettled quarterback situation had a lot to do with the off year for the 2006 team. And it’s entirely possible that if Georgia had played a tough opening game last year, it would have just revealed earlier what we found out against Alabama: The 2008 Dogs weren’t ready for prime time.

But the pattern does seem to show that in the years where we have a tough opening opponent, it tends to get the team focused earlier and they wind up having a better season.

So as difficult as it will be to open on the road against the Cowboys, it’s the best way for Georgia to start this season.

Speaking of openers under Richt, which one pleased you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments, vote in the poll or do both.

195 comments Add your comment

ZP

August 26th, 2009
9:42 am

Really?? You guys are talking vrap about our QB not having won any big games?? HE HASN”T EVER STARTED ANY BIG GAMES! So I guess, by that, he has won every big game he has ever started. How many big games had Tee Martin won before taking over for Peyton Manning? How many big games had Tebow won (as a starter) before taking over for Leak? How many big games had Matt Flynn won before taking over for Russell? etc etc etc. And how did that work out for those teams. If you are going to talk about our QB at least talk about something relevant like maybe that he’s only 6′1″ or that he was only the #7 QB coming out of high school, or that there was one time in HS when he almost lost a game.

AltamahaDawg

August 26th, 2009
9:44 am

Pokesfan, I think that most Dawgs fans are optimistic about thier defense, despite last year, for multiple reasons.

First, we have several veteran players coming back, that we know are top notch guys. It’s one thing if you have some new guys coming in that you hope are going to be (and we have that too) but these are proven playmakers. That also gives up much more depth, and thats more important late in the game even more than the “who”. We saw what the problems were very specifically last year, so we feel better knowing who/what we have now.

Secondly, although UGA did give a ton of points last year, they were still #22 in the country in yards. Anyone that kept up with UGA last years knows how turning the ball over by quick out, TO, and mistakes, by the other aspects of the team really inflated those points total. Easily 4/5 PPG. That stuff hopefully has been addressed. IF so, we have a top 20 defense in BOTH scoring and yards, without doing one thing differently.

And at the heart of the optimism, even amoung the most pesimistic, is that UGA has shown is can have one of the better defenses in the country. Did so off and on throughout the years. As late as year before last. With the same staff, same philosophy, many of the same players or suitable replacements. No guarantees that WILL come together against, but it HAS. We know the template.

Do any of those apply to your defensive optimism this year?

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:45 am

hey superpuppy, guess vegas is stupid for having O-State a six point favorite, hell they dont know what they are talking about. Talk to people that bet for a living. Vegas set that spread so all u puppy and SEC fans will jump all over it. Its called a trap bet, the early money went on OSU, and now all u puppy and SEC fans will be that small spread and pay for those lighting bills in Vegas

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
9:46 am

History repeats itself,quickest way to lose money ,bet when a streak will end

JaxDawg

August 26th, 2009
9:47 am

Pokesfan you might want to pump your brakes on predicting scores and win.
1. UGA`s record on the road under CMR is 34-4.
2. Yes, you are correct that injuries are part of football, but your team didn`t have 23 season ending injuries as UGA did. So, basically alot of 2nd/3rd string guys got valuable playing time as UGA “limped” to a 10 win season. now those who were hurt are healthy.
3. No the dawg offense will not be flashy but will be consistent, the d-fense will definitely be better.
whoever have the better defense, limits mistakes and manages the clcok better will win this. I hope T. Boone bought you guys some new defensive players because a new stadium and all the money he has won`t matter on Sept 5th. GO DAWGS!!!!!

ZP

August 26th, 2009
9:48 am

Corrine Brown- be more specific. Do you mean last year? Do you mean ever? Do you mean this decade? How about you answer this- How many big games did UF win in 2007? none? 9-4? So I guess by your logic, because they didn’t win any big games that year and went 9-4, they could not have possibly been good the next year. But wait. They won the NC right? Isn’t 10-3 better than 9-4?? Find a new argument.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:48 am

No have no optimism for our defense, hiring Bill Young was a good start and we have really good players everywhere on defense except the D-line, dont know what to expect there. But whether u puppy fans want to believe it or not, this OSU offense is going to be one of the best u guys will face this year.

BruffDawg

August 26th, 2009
9:49 am

No bill, the thoery is perfect. When your first game is a game and not a practice that counts players respond better and learn more. Those teams are always more prepared for a tough season. Loss to sc two years ago was only flaw in formula, but it was close.

Blaster

August 26th, 2009
9:50 am

To pokesfan: you probably realize by now that you can’t win an argument with a bunch of idiots.

DublDawg

August 26th, 2009
9:50 am

Pokesfan:

You have made a lot of remarks about the confidence and expectations of Georgia fans, so let me provide a blinding glimpse of the obvious. You a lot of irrational confidence in a team that, if it has been consistent at anything, is choking and squandering opportunities, not winning the big game. The Cowgirls are more likely to flop this year than to succeed.

Georgia was a much better place to live before all of you outsiders moved here, if you do not like it, Delta is ready when you are.

Citizen

August 26th, 2009
9:51 am

Pokesfan, the SEC has won have of the last 6 over the Big 12 in the Cotton Bowl. The SEC hears it all the time the high offense will dismantle the SEC defense. The truth is the Big12 hasn’t. 1 win over a team who fired their head coach before the Bowl and 2 more losses to SEC teams in the BCS championship game. The Top of the SEC has dominated the top of the Big 12.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:53 am

I love hearing everyone talk about T. Boone, like u wouldnt take his money! U puppies are starting to sound like OU fans that are getting scared that money is at last coming into OSU.

ZP

August 26th, 2009
9:53 am

pokesfan- Yeah Vegas is always right. Just ask anyone who bet on the Giants in the SuperBowl or anyone who bet on the UGA-Alabama game or the Utah-Bama game last year. I mean, if Vegas has the spread at 6, then we might as well not even play the game and just mark the score down as being 26-20 right? After all, Vegas knows everything. Who was the favorite in the USC-Texas NC game? Who was the favorite when USC played Oregon State last year? (I believe it was USC by about 21) Yep, there’s the proof. Vegas knows all.

Mike Bobo 17 INT

August 26th, 2009
9:54 am

OSU 31 – Dogs 10

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
9:56 am

ZP Ever! just name one,now that should not be that hard…………waiting

John

August 26th, 2009
9:58 am

Hey Yellow Fuzz,

It’s tough to hate someone you’ve owned for the last decade. In November we’ll see if last year was an aberration or not. You should be happy, you finally have a decent coach – it’s time to shut up and play football. It will be settled on the field.

Notice how I’m not spouting off numbers or predicting wins at this point. The season hasn’t even started. We were looking a lot better last year before Sturdivant went down with the knee. Everybody’s picking UF this year, but if something happens to Tebow…all the talk now is just a way to pass time for the next ten days.

But here’s another little secret – we are talking about games. I hate losing games as much as anybody, but I don’t hate the people who play them. If you do, there’s something wrong with you. Likewise if you ever wish an opponent to have a disabling injury. It’s just a game, not life and death.

ZP

August 26th, 2009
9:59 am

pokesfan- just remember that with all the confidence you have right now in the “whooping OSU will give UGA”, your fans had just as much confidence in 2007 when we shut you up, we thought, for good. Will you guys ever learn? When was the last time a top Big 12 beat a top SEC team? And yet, somehow, you illogically want to talk crap about the Big 12 being better than the SEC! But, you also still see Raider fans in the stands with the foam “#1″ fingers so I guess sports fans are an illogical bunch altogether

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:59 am

Blaster i didnt come on here to win an argument with rednecks and inbreeds, just kidding, just having fun with the puppies that live in the past. Oh no responce to my Barry Sanders is better than herschel comment, yeah really no contest there puppies, hell Thurman Thomas was a better running back than herschel

chazzo

August 26th, 2009
9:59 am

A resounding amen.

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
10:00 am

OSU a football tradtion since 2007

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:00 am

Well I thought we would lose that game, thought we might have a chance but playing the puppies at their place would be hard, unlike u guys who think its no big deal to play at our place

Mike Bobo 17 INT

August 26th, 2009
10:01 am

Where is DawginLex? We need some input!! Everyone knows the Dogs have already won the national title, so everyone else just needs to call it a day…

Saint Simons

August 26th, 2009
10:01 am

OSU 56 – UGA 3 hahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:02 am

Ok Corrine who did the puppies beat last year?

Simple Simons

August 26th, 2009
10:04 am

I AM A MAN…………i think

ZP

August 26th, 2009
10:07 am

Under Richt- 2 (I know it isn’t a lot) games against UF, 2 SEC championship games, 5-3 against UT (4-3 against decent UT teams), all but, i believe, 1 game vs. LSU, Sugar bowl v. FSU and (I know a crappy team, but big game nonetheless) Hawaii, OSU 2007, Boise St. 2005, Bama 2007, mainly all that we have played except UF games, 2008 Bama, WVU sugar bowl, and I don’t know if it would actaully be considered a big game, but a rivalry, the loss to GT this past year (although if you count that, you must count the 7 wins as well). And since you said ever, I will just include the 1980 National Championship, but that was a long time ago.

GeoffDawg

August 26th, 2009
10:09 am

pokesfan – you obviously missed my response about Herschel. Not that it really needs one. Some assertions are so ludicrous, they’re below responses.

Re: hicks and inbreeds? From Oklahoma? Lol – come back when your state has a GDP bigger than a south pacific island exporting coconuts.

ZP

August 26th, 2009
10:10 am

pokesfan- no big deal bc we have a great road record and you are not as great a team as ou think you are.

Also, you got a response about the Herschel comment, but not many because it was WAY too dumb a comment to make. I don’t think I should waste my time arguing that with ya. Ask a neutral fan for the answer to that question, 2 biased fans (such as ourselves) could go for days about it.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:11 am

ZP i never said the Big 12 is better than the Sec, lay off the puppy treats and read, oh sorry forgot inbreeds cant read

ZP

August 26th, 2009
10:12 am

geoffdawg- my thoughts exactly. Someone from OK calling someone a “bunch of rednecks and inbreeds”!! Classic irony

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:16 am

Hey Geeoffpuppy, that was funny, to bad thats all you can think of, what next you will be talking about the grapes of wrath to talk about Oklahoma, lay off the moonshine and go jump in the general lee, oh wait cant make dumba$$ comments like u puppy fans do, 42-21 O-State

ZP

August 26th, 2009
10:16 am

excuse me, you said “the top of the Big 12 is as strong as the SEC” and yet, there are no wins to prove this. You also said “injuries are a part of the game” when referring to why you lost to Oregon, but then you go on to say “UGA’s defense SUCK last year”. Hypocritical statement, we lost more guys, for the season, than you guys did for that game.

RealDawg

August 26th, 2009
10:18 am

I am glad to see us dropping some of our patsy games. I can’t say the same for Florida (Charleston, Troy, Florida International), Alabama (Florida International, North Texas, and UT Chattanooga), LSU (UL Lafayatte, Tulane, LA Tech), Tennessee (West KY, Memphis, Ohio). Not sure what the pollsters will do, but hopefully, we will be rewarded. I would have to say that Florida has the easiest schedule in the SEC with only one tough away game (LSU) and UGA neutral.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:18 am

what ZP the puppies defense didnt suck last year?

Preston

August 26th, 2009
10:19 am

OK here’s my opinion (for what it’s worth). UGA’s DE’s have been getting a lot of attention because of the lack of a pass rush last season. This will be an area of great improvement and the pressure on the OS QB will lead to at least a few INT’s in the opener. Also, UGA’s O Line will help Cox ease into the starting role and he won’t have as much trouble as most people think. He KNOWS the playbook. He’s a fifth year senior and the guy can play. He wouldn’t have had as many offers if he didn’t. UGA 31-10

P.S. My favorite opening games of the richt era were definitely the dismantling of Clemson. (maybe because my ex is a huge Clemson fan) NAW!

ZP

August 26th, 2009
10:20 am

puppy treats? So because a bulldog is our mascot, we eat puppy treats? Nice. So I guess because y’alls is a cowboy you guys wear cowboy hats and ride horses everywhere. So are your butts sore from the bareback riding or all the “pokes” it recieves? After Sept. 5th, it will be from the beating UGA gives ya.

DirtyDawg

August 26th, 2009
10:21 am

Pokeyman…sure I’d take TBoone’s money, who wouldn’t, but does that mean you’ve got to share his politics as well? Then again you probably do and are proud of it. As for the football, that’s why they play the games. We’ll see, won’t we? Fact is, if your guys win, we’ll be disappointed but since it’s been pretty-much predicted and since it’s out of conference, we could still have a damn fine season…however, if you guys lose – particularly if it’s by a lot – after all the TBoone money, and the hype about this being ‘your year’, my guess is that you’ll be moping around like somebody shot your horse or something. Just pull your hat down on tight and remember, you’re in the Big 12 so you may still be as good as you need to be.

ZP

August 26th, 2009
10:22 am

never said it didn’t, but it was due to a ton of injuries, which you said yourself, is detrimental to a team. Those injured players are back, so you can’t expect UGA’s D to be as bad as last year.

GeoffDawg

August 26th, 2009
10:25 am

Grapes of Wrath? As rife as the dust bowl is for humor, that never really occurred to me. Nice state you got there though. Sounds like a real shagri la.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:26 am

Man u puppy fans are easy to make mad, I only went to college at OSU, I grew up in Atlanta, love the Braves and the Hawks, and love going back to oklahoma, great place. I just hate puppy fans that think puppy football is god, Oh dont like T. Boone politics he plays both sides to make more money, but as long as he is giving money why wouldnt i want it to go to OSU.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:29 am

Oh if we lose to the puppies are season isnt over, we can still play in a BCS game, We have 8 home games this year

Fort Worth Dawg

August 26th, 2009
10:31 am

For those going to the game, where should we park? Where should we go to try and buy tickets?

Jon Hughes

August 26th, 2009
10:32 am

pokesfan, okstate is only a 6 point favorite?then that means its a pickem because whoever is the hometeam automatically gets 6 or 7 points. anyway the dawgs play better as an underdog anyway it makes them focus

ZP

August 26th, 2009
10:34 am

sorry pokesfan, it’s called being a big fan. Sorry it pisses you off so bad.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:34 am

Get there early the parking sucks, to get tickets, on your way to the field there will be a bunch of people selling tickets,

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:35 am

LOL ZP i’m not pissed, I’m a big fan to, i just know how easy it is to piss you puppy fans off, like OU fans

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:38 am

Hey fort worth, the best place to park is north of the stadium, students that rent houses will charge u 5 or 10 bucks to park in their yard

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
10:38 am

Good Luck pokey and no need to thank us for getting you on TV

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
10:41 am

LOL like a top 10 team needed the puppies to get on TV

GeoffDawg

August 26th, 2009
10:44 am

Ah, but you forget that your stay in the top ten will last only one week into the season.