Dogs need better showings in big games

Mark Richt's program has slipped the past couple of years against Top 25 opponents. (University of Georgia)

Mark Richt's program has slipped the past couple of years against Top 25 opponents. (University of Georgia)

I wrote last week about how Georgia’s win-loss record over the past decade looked pretty good overall and against nonconference and BCS conference opponents. But if there’s one area that gives credence to the notion that Mark Richt’s program has slipped a bit, it’s in the big games, the ones against teams that finish the season ranked. In that regard, the Dogs have been only middling.

Chris Low of ESPN.com has taken a look at how SEC teams have fared over the past five seasons against teams that finished in the Top 25 of the final polls, either the AP or the coaches’ poll. As a whole, the SEC, generally considered the strongest football conference by just about any criteria, didn’t show up as well as you might have expected, with only two conference teams, Florida (14-9) and LSU (13-11), having winning records against Top 25 teams in the final polls.

Meanwhile, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, South Carolina and Vanderbilt managed five or fewer wins against the final Top 25.

The Dogs did better than that. Georgia and Auburn tied for fourth place with 8-12 records, behind Alabama, which was 10-12.

That’s not too bad overall, but the trend is what has caused most of the criticism of Richt over the past couple of seasons. The Crimson Tide are 7-2 over the past two seasons and went 5-0 during their 2009 national championship season, Low points out, while Georgia has gone the other direction, posting a 2-6 mark against the final Top 25 over the last two seasons.

As the Dogs move ahead with a revamped defensive staff, Richt will be judged this coming season primarily on his team’s overall record. Will they get at least 10 wins? Will they end the season ranked, preferably in the Top 10?

But, really, the key indicator of whether Richt is getting his program back on track will be how they do against teams that wind up the year among the ranked elite. If the Dogs continue to come up short more often than not in those games, there might be more shake-ups still to come.

TAKING THE LONG VIEW ON METTENBERGER

I was off Monday and away from the Blawg when the story of Zach Mettenberger’s underage drinking arrest broke, and I can’t argue with most of what’s been said in the various online venues. It was a dumb thing for him to do, though not unusual for an 18-year-old college kid. But most 18-year-olds with fake IDs (two!!??) and a hankering to drink aren’t on full scholarship and aren’t locked in a competition for starting quarterback on a high-profile team.

(As for the most prevalent question in the wake of his arrest — why on earth he’d be spending spring break in Valdosta — Buck Belue reports that Mettenberger was in town to see some old high school buddies play in the Valdosta State spring game.)

Mettenberger’s expected suspension for at least one game pretty much precludes him being the starter in the opener, and might even make him third-string. Beyond that, he’ll have to convince his coaches that he’s capable of making better decisions than he did this past weekend.

Of course, unless the vast majority of football analysts are wrong, Mettenberger likely wasn’t going to be the starter at the beginning of this season anyway.

But the fact remains that while Aaron Murray looks like the frontrunner, he missed a lot of work last year and has a bit of a history with injuries. And Logan Gray, well, when you’ve already had discussions with your coaches about possibly switching positions, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of your future prospects.

So despite the general view that Mettenberger is something of a long-term “project” — a kid who has a big arm but needs to improve in a lot of areas of the game — circumstances could dictate that his time comes sooner, rather than later.

Let’s hope he takes this setback in stride and rededicates himself to being more than just another dumb 18-year-old. Because as Rex Robinson put it, “We may need him down the road.”

TWO DOGS MAKE TOP 100 LIST

Speaking of Murray, he was one of two Georgia players to crack the list of Top 100 College Players to Watch compiled by ESPN’s Joe Schad, coming in at No. 58. A.J. Green, who ranked No. 11, was the other. Alabama had seven players make the list, Oklahoma had six and Florida and North Carolina had four each.

131 comments Add your comment

noah

March 9th, 2010
11:41 am

def. needs to change

Thirty Points to your Twenty-Four Points

March 9th, 2010
11:41 am

Well, the Dawgs almost always show up for THE biggest game on one team’s schedule………

{{{{{30-24}}}}} hahahahahahaahhaha!!

It hurts you nerds SO much more than you will EVER admit!!!!

8-1
60-39-5
We Run This State

Cuz

March 9th, 2010
11:41 am

And then there were two.

TuckDAWG

March 9th, 2010
11:47 am

CMR has some work to do so some of the criticisim is deserved but we will bounce BACK!!!! and Zach needs to use his head. GATA!!! GO DAWGS!!! oh yeah and FIRST

TuckDAWG

March 9th, 2010
11:48 am

L-Dawg

March 9th, 2010
11:50 am

Bill….

YOU RE AWFULLY NEGATIVE THESE DAYS. CHEER UP. SPRING IS KICKING IN.

1 MONTH AND 1 DAY UNTIL G-DAY!!!

GLORY GLORY TO OLE’ GEORGIA!!!!

GO DAWGS!!!!

{{{{{30-24}}}}}
8-1
60-39-5
WE RUN THIS STATE

RxDawg

March 9th, 2010
12:15 pm

“In that regard, the Dogs have been only middling.”

Yeh, I guess. But how does everyone else stack up against that kind of stat? My guess would be…..middling.

RxDawg

March 9th, 2010
12:19 pm

Nevermind, I see you posted that. But even the mighty Gators aren’t jumping off the page with a 14-9 record.

ga gator

March 9th, 2010
12:34 pm

RxDawg I would not think any team (any conference) would jump off the page in this particular stat. That is why some sort of playoff would be nice.

SOUTH GA DAWG

March 9th, 2010
12:55 pm

Our time is coming young people!!!!! GATA DAWGS

Oh no, Bill

March 9th, 2010
1:06 pm

You are dumping gasoline on BuLLDawg’s fire! Lord help us!!!

Mike

March 9th, 2010
1:10 pm

The numbers do not lie. Even CMR’s FSU glory days as an offensive coach, FSU lost many, many BIG games. I remember several FSU meltdowns against Miami and Florida. Stop drinking the Kool Aid and start looking at the numbers.

DirtyNastyDawg

March 9th, 2010
1:24 pm

The dawgs are back once again getting drunk and locked up those were the days of CMR winning some SEC Titles thats a good sign for The Dawgs. If any technerd wants to meet at the 50 yard line this year and punch it out in Athens let me know

Falcon66

March 9th, 2010
1:26 pm

A statement wasa made that the SEC didn’t fare very well. These records are very misleading because a significant amount of these top 25 games are these teams actually playing each other. How many of UGA’s losses are against SEC teams. It doesn’t say anything about the strength of the SEC overall. Don’t mean a thing!

Elliot Garcia

March 9th, 2010
1:26 pm

Georgia is not really a high profile team…

Tailback U

March 9th, 2010
1:29 pm

Bill
Very good comments about the Dawgs shortcomings in the big
games. As much as the overall record is vital CMR has got
get the team winning the big games on a much better percentage,
or we will be looking at mid level bowls and little else.
That’s never going to cut it with the fan base nor should it.
The SEC has it’s down season every now and then but on the
whole just gets tougher and tougher to compete in the upper
echelon. This means less room for error than in the past
when it comes to decisions that can come back to bite you
for an extended space of time. As far as Met it is quite
the shame and as you have noted it could be a pretty far fall
from grace, at least in short haul.

LAKE OCONEE DAWG

March 9th, 2010
1:30 pm

Elliot Garcia:
Now that is a really stupid bit of news you just laid on us….You must have been hiding under a rock…You need a couple luke warm enemas to get your system back in order and to clear your mind…..

Techster

March 9th, 2010
1:35 pm

@DIRTYNASTY Georgia sucks and i would love to meet you at the 50 yard line to punch you in the face. Martha Richt will never win anything. He scared to fire BOZO THE Clown of a coordinator you have in BOBO. BCS bowl for us and a bowl game in louisiana for you so who run this state.

kydawg

March 9th, 2010
1:37 pm

Falcon66 has a good point…what is the breakdown between SEC Top 25 head-to-head games and Non-conference Top 25 games?

BurningRedBleedingBlack

March 9th, 2010
1:41 pm

ga gator i agree, playoff would be really nice especially the way this year in the SEC is gearin gup to be. can’t wait hope everyones team dodges those injury bugs.

NCAA

March 9th, 2010
1:58 pm

Techster, Do they teach english at Tech?

Jeff

March 9th, 2010
2:00 pm

Techster — strong words from a fan of a sissy program that sometimes struggles to beat Virginia, Duke, Wake Forest or UNC.

And if I recall, “Martha Richt” beat your team’s gold and white butts on YOUR home turf last November.

And for the record: I think it is VERY impressive that all these SEC teams HAVE 20, 22, 25 games against top-25 teams in a five year span… a lot of Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, Big Easy, and atlantic crappy conference teams may only have ONE, possibly two, games against ranked teams each year… this proves that SEC teams have 4, 5, 6 each season.

This shows once again why the SEC is the strongest overall football conference, top to bottom.

Oh, hey, Techster, just FYI… in Georgia’s last few games against ACC teams? We’ve won 8 of 9 vs. Ga. Tech, we dominated Va. Tech in a bowl game a couple years ago, beat FSU in the Sugar Bowl, have beaten Virginia several times in bowls…. need I go on? And other than Tech beating Vandy or Miss. State, what have ACC teams done against the SEC?

Carolina beat much-higher-regarded and ranked Clemson this year.
UGA thumped top-10 Tech.
Florida owns FSU.
Clemson and Va. Tech have both lost to Alabama.
Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

SEC is the best! Good luck to the ‘Dawgs and ALL our SEC bretheren this season!!!

SOGADOG

March 9th, 2010
2:01 pm

CMR’s main weakness is his performance against SEC East teams during the last five years, particularly Fla, and Tenn. If the Dawgs are going to win a National Championship, they have to win the SEC championship, and if they are going to win the SEC championship, they must win the SEC East championship. In the last 5 years, the Dawgs are only 14-11 against SEC East teams, 1-4 against Fla. and 2-3 against Tenn. CMR has never beaten Fla and Tenn in the same year either. CMR needs to focus on beating SEC East teams, especially Fla and Tenn, if he wants to reach the goal of winning SEC and Natl Championships.

NCAA

March 9th, 2010
2:01 pm

Football in a basketball conference, easy BCS.

Jim

March 9th, 2010
2:04 pm

Bill K — I have not looked. How many of the losses came in the last two years?

Too tough 44

March 9th, 2010
2:17 pm

Hey :MetDAWG……this was not a mistake, IF! YOU LEARNED FROM IT! HANG IN THERE! GO DAWGS !

Too tough 44

March 9th, 2010
2:18 pm

HEY METDAWG! THIS WAS NOT A MISTAKE IF YOU LEARNED FROM IT! GO DAWGS!!!!

FinanceBuzz

March 9th, 2010
2:19 pm

Only two teams with a winning record against top 25 teams? It is surprising only because the SEC is all about marketing hype. Reality proves – yet again – that the SEC is not heads and shoulders above other conferences. Sure, they are very good but so are most of the other BCS conferences except perhaps the Big East. The SEC aura is more about marketing. Most years the SEC is the big one or two and the rest of the conference – just like most other BCS conferences.

Calhoun Vol

March 9th, 2010
2:24 pm

THE DAWGS TIME IS COMING BABY! 14 – 6 (most not even CLOSE), the last 20 years and that was before Da’Rick! More beat down’s to come. Ya’ll should keep braggin’ about beatin’ schools that don’t care about football (where they care more about academics or basketball) Tech, Vandy and Kentucky, oh sorry not KENTUCKY, lol. What a national power! lol.

McDawg

March 9th, 2010
2:25 pm

so 7 or 8 of those are against UF-2 were against LSU-1 against Bama maybe a couple from UT or Auburn

lies, dang lies, and statistics

Dawg in Valdosta

March 9th, 2010
2:25 pm

Dawg 39

March 9th, 2010
2:27 pm

AGREED: The Dawgs need to beat teams from the SEC East before they can accomplish anything else. I THINK I see that happening. Also, you need to be lucky as well as good to win in the SEC.

Joe

March 9th, 2010
2:35 pm

What does the “M” in “MNC” stand for? Shouldn’t it just be “NC”, or “BCS NC” ? I just see that all the time on these blogs and I have always wondered

Bow Wow

March 9th, 2010
2:40 pm

Richt’s teams are noted for having great talent (look at the number of NFL players from UGA, non graduates, I might add) and a total lack of discipline on and off the field. Don’t expect that to change, except that Alabama and Auburn have already decimated Richt’s talent pool.

Tenn 45-19

March 9th, 2010
2:51 pm

And this just in…….Tennessee scores again!
Tennessee 45 Pups 19

SEC FANATIC

March 9th, 2010
2:51 pm

Don’t give them facts! They don’t want no stinkin’ facts!!!

BG

March 9th, 2010
2:53 pm

Well, I am so happy that Mark Richt is 8 -1 over the tech nerds!!!!!!

goalinestalker

March 9th, 2010
2:54 pm

Are we gonna always look at where teams are ranked at the end of the season or where they are ranked when we play the game? When we finished #2 in 07.I guess UT and Carolina can say they beat the #2 team in the country? Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! What is his record against the top 25 the day of the game not where they finish the season.

SEC FANATIC

March 9th, 2010
2:56 pm

Better to let sleeping (and dreaming) Dawgs lie.

Scott W.

March 9th, 2010
2:57 pm

This isn’t really news to anyone who watches UGA football.

Chris

March 9th, 2010
2:59 pm

“Tenn 45-19″ wait till this year. What a loser.

SEC FANATIC

March 9th, 2010
2:59 pm

They all think that Bama and Florida’s going to be down this year and somehow, they’re gonna be up…please don’t confuse them with facts and reality!

SEC FANATIC

March 9th, 2010
3:01 pm

Livin’ in a dream world!

Mikey

March 9th, 2010
3:06 pm

I think the M in MNC stands for mythical…

SEC FANATIC

March 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

And the “U” in UGA stands for “unrealistic”. Of course, you could also say that about the “U” itself.

goalinestalker

March 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

This is a fair comparison of CMR’s body of work at UGA compared to a really good coach and program.

SABAN
Vs. SEC foes: 35-16
Vs. Top 25 foes: 17-13
Vs. Top 25 foes away from home: 9-8
Vs. Top 10 foes: 6-6
Vs. Top 10 foes away from home: 5-3
In postseason games (bowls and championships): 6-2
In games decided by a touchdown or less: 19-9
Record at home: 35-8
Record on the road: 16-11
Losses to unranked teams: 9
Top 25 finishes: 4
Top 10 finishes: 2

RICHT
Vs. SEC foes: 43-17
Vs. Top 25 foes: 24-13
Vs. Top 25 foes away from home: 17-8
Vs. Top 10 foes: 7-4
Vs. Top 10 foes away from home: 6-4
In postseason games (bowls and championships): 7-3
In games decided by a touchdown or less: 25-14
Record at home: 40-7
Record on the road: 27-4
Losses to unranked teams: 5
Top 25 finishes: 7
Top 10 finishes: 5

HAHA

March 9th, 2010
3:12 pm

goalinestalker

Saban

National Championships = 2

Richt

National Championships = 0

goalinestalker

March 9th, 2010
3:14 pm

Wow really tool bag?

HAHA

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

goalinestalker

Tool bag? Are you still in highschool?

The D

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

AJ green #58 on the top 100, wow Joe, wonder if your secretary made this list for you. Keep kissing butts at ESPN dooche