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

The D

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

He should be in the top 20 at least.

uga1962

March 9th, 2010
3:17 pm

Well said Jeff. The URINE & WHITE are a joke of a football team and they play in a joke of a conference. They can’t even win a bowl game. Yes, they played in a BCS bowl game and they got their butts handed to them by Iowa. We did not play in a BCS bowl game but at least we showed up and won.

goalinestalker

March 9th, 2010
3:19 pm

How about sketchbag? I know Saban has 2 NC. Just trying to show where the program is compared to a good coach and program.

uga1962 is an idiot

March 9th, 2010
3:19 pm

The acc may be a joke, but so are the non-BAMA,LSU,UF SEC teams

SEC Dominance = BAMA, LSU, UF

The Wannabes = UGA et al

#1 BAMA FAN

March 9th, 2010
3:21 pm

goallinestalker….IT IS ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIPS. SEC, NATL, SEC East or West…RTR

HAHA

March 9th, 2010
3:23 pm

goalinestalker

It’s a moot point – irrespective of how well Richt has matched up against Saban, statistically speaking, it is pointless

When Richt wins a national championship then make the comparisons… until then your comparing the two is like comparing Reggie Miller to MJ

Sketchbag? You seriously need some lessons in ‘trash-talk’

goalinestalker

March 9th, 2010
3:31 pm

Trying to keep it rated PG…Im saying the guy is avg 10 wins a season! If it wasn’t for ESPN and 2 loss Miles crying on national tv,we would have won it all in 07! We got worked by the media! We will catch a break like the rest of the teams that have backed into the NC game soon. At least Bama ran the table. Not like UF or LSU.

Top Dawg

March 9th, 2010
3:33 pm

HAHA:

Would head to head matchups be a releveant statistic in your eyes?

HAHA

March 9th, 2010
3:34 pm

goalinestalker

Realistically, how many regular season wins does UGA get this year?

Remember….realistically…..(i.e., still no starting QB appointed, new DC who is unproven in the SEC, no Rennie…..)

uga1962

March 9th, 2010
3:37 pm

To uga1962 is an idiot: If I’m an idiot then so is alot of other sports fans and sports analyst. Also, I believe South Carolina, which is a non BAMA,LSU,UF team, beat one half of your ACC elite, Clemson and the other non BAMA,LSU,UF team, which is UGA, beat your ACC chumpions, the URINE & WHITE. So who’s the idiot here. I believe it’s you. Our mediocre beat your best.

HAHA

March 9th, 2010
3:37 pm

Top Dawg

Ofcourse it is relevant, but I just don’t think that it is fair to make a comparison between Saban and Richt while Saban sits with two NC’s and Richt hasn’t won one – I understand what Goaline did it, but I think it is misleading….

question, if Bama plays UGA next year in the regular season (in Athens or Tuscaloosa), who wins?

Tenn 45-19

March 9th, 2010
3:38 pm

Chris-

All time UT-UGA record:
Tennessee 22 victories Pups 15 victories.
Who’s your daddy?!
Tennessee 45 Pups 19

uga1962 is an idiot

March 9th, 2010
3:41 pm

How soon you forget – In 2008 UGA was preseason #1 and was beaten at home by a 3 loss GT who was under a first year head coach running a ‘highschool’ offense and Richt had two weeks to prepare

And clearly USCe beating Clemson was a fluke (and in 2008, Clem squashed USCe who nearly beat you that year)

Clem all-time record against USCe
65-38-4

goalinestalker

March 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

Good question? 8 or 9 depends on the D. We don’t open on the road against a top 10 team like last year. Oh wait OSU didn’t finish in the top 25. With the running game and 10 starters back on Off we will not have a problem scoring. Our non conf schedule is very avg and we get UF post Tebow.

Debose

March 9th, 2010
3:48 pm

“Im saying the guy is avg 10 wins a season! If it wasn’t for ESPN and 2 loss Miles crying on national tv,we would have won it all in 07!”

What did ESPN or Miles have to do with the Tennessee beatdown and the South Carolina folly which made the Dawgs tied in the East with the Vols which led to the tiebreaker going to Tennessee?

Scott W.

March 9th, 2010
3:54 pm

2008 UGA – GT game was in the rain and you had a ground based attack (GT) against a fairly split offense (UGA) and Tech only won by 3. Weak.

goalinestalker

March 9th, 2010
3:57 pm

Nothing at all! We played into the #4 spot in the polls and one and two lost in front of us! We got jobbed we were ranked ahead of both UT and LSU by what took place on the field! There is the problem some how ESPN started with this “your not in your conf champ game so how can you play in the nc game crap!” Bottom line we played our way into that ranking and the same clowns who voted us into the #4 spot backed off and let #7 LSU jump everybody after losing at home against UNRANKED Ark! In fact LSU lost 2 in the same span UGA won 7 in a row…You dont lose your last home game of the season to a unranked team and play for the NC? ESPN put them there!

uga1962

March 9th, 2010
4:00 pm

To uga1962 is an idiot: The 45-42 was a fluke. 8 out of 9 is no fluke. I like the way you use the word “nearly”. I can say I “nearly” won the lottery.

Tim T.

March 9th, 2010
4:00 pm

Dawg 3/20

March 9th, 2010
4:04 pm

Newsflash – The rankings are updated after conference championship games.

BCS committee

March 9th, 2010
4:11 pm

2009 – Bama, SEC Champions vs. Texas, Big 12 Champion
2008 – Florida, SEC Champions vs. Oklahoma, Big 12 Champion
2007 – LSU, SEC Champions vs. Ohio State, Big 10 Champions
2006 – Florida, SEC Champions vs. Ohio State, Big 10 Champions
2005 – Texas(12-0), Big 12 Champions vs, USC(12-0), Pac 10 Champions

See the pattern, win your conference title and be undefeated or have 1 loss then you can have a chance to get in the National Title Game

goalinestalker

March 9th, 2010
4:12 pm

Wow…really? Tell that to Stoops and OK they played in the NC game without winning there conf?

What If

March 9th, 2010
4:14 pm

the Dawgs don’t improve on 8-5 this year ?

Will fans be okay with it and optimistically be looking forward to next year, as usual ?

UGA Snubbed Again by ESPN

March 9th, 2010
4:17 pm

Ding. Bias #12,342 by ESPN against UGA.

2 players on this list?

No Ealey? No Charles? No Branden Smith?

What’s new?

6 Top 10 Finishes Not Enough?

March 9th, 2010
4:21 pm

1) None of the other SEC Coaches have been around as long as Richt at one school. Low fails to mention this IMPORTANT difference.
2) In the end, wins count the most, not individual match-ups. Just Chris Low finding another way to diss UGA.
3) 6 top 10 finished at 1 place. Find another SEC coach who’s done that in the last 9 years.

This stat is as useless as Urban Meyer’s record against Auburn being 0-2.

76-Dawg

March 9th, 2010
4:35 pm

The top 25 rankings at the end of the year are a joke. Georgia would have beaten at least half of the final poll. When each team of the SEC has to play 5 or 6, really, top 12 teams every year and then each team has to play maybe 3 more team that are good enough that they should end in the bottom half of the polls you are going to have 2 to 5 losses at the end of the year and many SEC teams that don’t make the final top 25 poll are better than 10 to 15 teams who only has 2 or 3 losses and end up in the final poll. The only SEC that shouldn’t have been in the final poll was Vanderbilt,Mississippi State, and maybe Arkansas. To much consideration is given to win loss record and not enough on who the teams play. One example is when Florida killed Cincinnati in their bowl and Cincinnati ended up 8th. GA, TENN, LSU, AUBURN, ALABAMA, MISS, and maybe SC and KY could have all beaten Cincinnati in a bowl game.The final poll had 4 SEC teams in the it . WHAT A JOKE.

WHO CARES

March 9th, 2010
4:38 pm

BLA BLA BLA OH YEAH, 30-24 all year.

Still better to be a Dawg

March 9th, 2010
4:54 pm

Whats sad is that 4 of florida’s top 25 wins probably were against the dawgs.

UA Alum92

March 9th, 2010
5:03 pm

BCS Committee, absolutely spot on post.

atlien052

March 9th, 2010
5:15 pm

Mike said, “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.”

CMR lost 13 games in 10 years as the FSU coordinator (1990-99). If you say that 13 games in 10 years is “many, many BIG games” then you need to have your head examined.

HanDAWG

March 9th, 2010
5:28 pm

That is very good analysis but in reality, we need to fix only 2 major trends to skew that number to where it should be: BEAT FLORIDA at least half the time and win EVERY big HOME game. Remaining state champs is also vital, but we’ve done okay in that series. Road losses in the SEC hurt but are not one of our glaring problems. http://www.bighairyblawg.com

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

March 9th, 2010
5:30 pm

Still Better, and 6 of CMR’s top 25, losses are to the Hated Gators. Solve the Gator problem and solve all of Ga’s problems. Of course, that is not an easy task, but yes it’s sill better to be a Dawg

oakwood dawg

March 9th, 2010
5:39 pm

ok all you know it all’s. let’s go ahead and fire richt now and we can bring back donnon as head coach and goff can be the o.d. and man the the good days are back the not ranked every year days and all the great recuits going to tenn and fl while we sit around and cry about no players wanting to come to athens and play, man i wouldn’t want to play for you crybabies either, and before you get all crazy i bleed red and black everyday. oh and if you haven’t noticed bama is being investagated by the ncaa and we all know it will come out one day that florida is cheating tebow probley got a condo at the beach and some cash every week in an envelope from the alum at fl. but hey let’s call the press conference and send richt packing and weclome back jimbo and ray ray man can’t wait for next season. go dogs.

Thuga

March 9th, 2010
5:56 pm

Well boys, the plan to destroy ourselves is working. Lets go out there and be stupid in public and get our season started right. We want to be number 1 this year in arrests and ya’ll are already making us coaches proud. Don’t worry, you may have to sit out a few minutes or run an extra lap but it’ll be OK. When I was at Free Shoes U, we excelled at the good stuff. We just want to show our slobbering humping fans how we do it “dawgy style” now in Athens. See you at the club!

Greg

March 9th, 2010
5:59 pm

Is 2-6 the past two years really surprising when 3 of those 6 losses came to UF and Bama, teams that have dominated the conference the past two years. Another of those top 25 losses came to GT(the only time they’ve beaten us this decade after we relaxed with a 16 pt lead at halftime). Another loss came in the closing seconds vs LSU in a game that turned on a horrible calls by the officials after it appeared that we had the game won. What was the other one? At OK State? Tough opening game on the road….they could have very easily finished in the top 10 if they hadn’t lost Dez Bryant mid-year and he was the guy who beat us on that day.

ozzfest

March 9th, 2010
6:00 pm

WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH HUTSON MASON….I THOUGH A PARADE ALL-AMERICA WOULD MAKE WAVES ON A TEAM WITH NO APPARENT QB?

NO ONE EVER SEEMS TO MENTION THE DUDE.

shane#1

March 9th, 2010
6:26 pm

I spoke my piece about Mett yesterday, so I am letting go of that. The kid screwded up and most likely cost himself the slim chance he had of starting this season. Richt’s record against top teams is understandable, that’s why they are top teams. Florida and UT are bitter rivals of UGA, they might go to sleep against an Ol’ Miss or UK, but they are wide awake when the Dawgs show up. Fulmer owned the Dawgs untill Richt came to Athens, and Richt is the first UGA coach to beat the Gators more than once since Dooley.

never dull

March 9th, 2010
6:31 pm

One thing everyone should agree on, the comments on Junkyard Blawg are usually better than the story.

DP

March 9th, 2010
6:31 pm

“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”

I’m not sure what you expected. When 2 SEC teams in the top 25 play each other the outcome will be 1-1 for the league. When the lower echelon teams like Vandy and Miss. St. play SEC teams rated in the top 25 they’ll generally lose and that will be 0-1 for the league for each of those games. So the SEC (or any other league) overall will start out with a big negative record on this measure before out of conference games are considered.

Take this year for example. There were 4 SEC teams in the final top 25. The rest of the SEC went 0-9 against Alabama, 1-8 against Florida, 3-5 against LSU and 4-4 against Ole Miss. That’s an 8-26 record for SEC teams against top 25 teams inside the conference. A lot of the out of conference games against top 25 teams for the league will be a non-ranked SEC team (since 2/3 of the teams weren’t ranked in the final poll) against a top 25 non-SEC team while fewer will be a top 25 SEC team against an out of conference top 25 team.

Every conference will have a lousy overall record on this meaningless measure.

dawgfan

March 9th, 2010
6:33 pm

Its not that we’re just losing big games. We’re getting absolutely CREAMED in big games. We haven’t been able to even stay on the field with the SEC’s best the past two seasons. I shudder to think at what Bama would have done to us if we had crossed paths with them last year. It would have been a bloodbath.

I don’t mind losing to teams like Florida and Bama that end up winning the national championship. I do however have a problem when they absolutely blow our doors off and humiliate us on national TV. That should never happen to us. I repeat NEVER. Spare me any excuses about injuries, Joe Cox, or Willie Martinez. Those excuses don’t hold any water when Bama is up 30-0…AT THE HALF!!! Those excuses don’t hold any water when Florida drops almost half a hundred on us two seasons in a row. And my god almighty what drug were our players on in last year’s Tennessee game? Hey fellas, you think they might run a bootleg again? They’ve only been doing it the entire freaking game. Holy bejeebus what an embarrassing performance. That was the worst of all the beatdowns over the past two seasons handsdown. Say what you will about Martinez, but the players simply looked disinterested.

Long story short, we’re not going to win them all. But what I’ve seen over the past two seasons is an absolute disgrace. Nobody should ever handle us like that. Never ever ever in a million years.

No excuses please. Leave that to the Techies.

yeah right

March 9th, 2010
6:40 pm

actually, UGA is 9-3 in championships and bowls not 7-3……..2-1 in SEC title games and 7-2 in bowls. Thats 9-3 in BIG games duh.

yeah right

March 9th, 2010
6:44 pm

as far as using how a team finished??? Ummm those games that Bill uses were not played against those teams on the last week of the year. You have to use how they were ranked at the time. Tex was not really number 2 last year after they lost McCoy.
.
The problem using “how they finished” is it does not take into account circumstances (injuries) that didnt exist at the time UGA played them. The real record against ranked team is 29-18.
.
Also, a 9-3 record in bowls and championships are not big games??? Come on Bill get with reality please.

yeah right

March 9th, 2010
6:46 pm

Even ESPN says UGA is 29-18 against ranked teams….you know the “world wide leader in sports”. Bill go back on vacation please.

yeah right

March 9th, 2010
6:49 pm

also, bill…….ESPN reports UGA is 8-6 Vs. Top 10 foes. I guess those are not big games hmmmmmmmm

kauai dawg

March 9th, 2010
6:49 pm

The SEC facing the SEC in the top 25 is why those numbers look the way they do. Take out the SEC games and what will the numbers be against just top 25 teams outside the SEC? The SEC beats up on each other. NO questions asked…. go DAWGS! 30-24

yeah right

March 9th, 2010
6:50 pm

those above numbers are UGA under Richt by the way

i just dont care

March 9th, 2010
6:55 pm

ALABAMA has 2 defencive players on that espn list thats never played a down,whats with that

SC_DAWG

March 9th, 2010
7:30 pm

Elliot Garcia, are you here legally, sir?

Spike

March 9th, 2010
7:35 pm

Until we start beating the Gators all this talk is academic. For the love of Pete, start beating the Gators!! Why do we crap in our pants every time we play them? I just don’t get it.

Bill King

March 9th, 2010
7:40 pm

Yeah right:

Look again. I didn’t decide to go by the final season rankings (as opposed to how they were ranked at the time of the game). Chris Low of ESPN.com decided that. He wanted to use the final ranking as the criteria because a lot of teams are ranked at some point during the season but don’t wind up that way. The list was also limited to the past five seasons.