Conventional wisdom in the college football world is that a bye week before a game, especially when your opponent doesn’t have one, gives you an advantage.
In fact, what little chance Georgia is given to win this year’s battle with Florida in Jacksonville generally is deemed to hinge on how successful the Dogs were in making use of their extra week of preparation.
Georgia is 11-3 under Mark Richt following an open date, including 1-0 when it comes before the Florida game thanks to 2007, when the No. 20 Dogs upset No. 9 Florida 42-30.
As has been noted with frustration by Dogs fans in recent years, a bye week is something of a rarity for Georgia in this series. This will be only the sixth time in the history of Georgia-Florida that the Dogs come into the game after a week off. UGA is 3-2 in those games. In contrast, Florida has had a bye week before facing the Dogs 18 times (including 13 of the past 16 years) with a record of 14-4 against the Dogs when they’ve had a week off.
But as UGA football historian Patrick Garbin details, the importance of a bye week is probably overstated, at least in Georgia’s case. Since 1980 in games following an open Saturday Georgia has a 39-17-2 record for a winning percentage of .690. Meanwhile, over the same period the Bulldogs have an overall record of 255-99-5, which works out to a winning percentage of .717 — slightly better than for bye weeks.
Garbin also notes that of Georgia’s 58 games after bye weeks, the Dogs were favored to win 74 percent of the games but were victorious in just 69 percent of them.
And a bye week before the Georgia Tech game last year certainly didn’t seem to help Willie Martinez figure out how to handle the triple option.
Still, Richt’s record after an open week is impressive overall, and you’d certainly rather be off when the other guy isn’t than vice versa. Georgia only practiced twice during its week off, but the coaches worked every day but one, when they had to take a state-mandated furlough. Let’s hope they put that time to good use scheming how to keep the pressure on Florida in the red zone, establish some semblance of a running game for the Dogs and get the ball into A.J. Green’s hands as frequently as possible.
Bottom line, though, is always the same against the Gators: Stop Tebow. And, yes, it’s much easier said than done.
What do you think, will the bye week be much of a factor? Or do the Dogs need a miracle to pull this one out?