Bulldog Bites: On weak opening opponents and SEC power rankings

Are the Ragin' Cajuns worth sitting in the early September heat?

Are the Ragin' Cajuns worth sitting in the early September heat?

With tickets still available to Georgia’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette, I asked someone who follows the Dogs religiously but only goes to the occasional game whether he was considering taking in the home opener.

“Naw,” he said. “Noon kickoff. Too hot. I’ll watch it on TV.”

I asked another fan, who has season tickets, whether he’d be there on Sept. 4. Nope, he said. “I’m going to let a friend take my seats. I just can’t see sitting there in that heat for Louisiana-Lafayette.”

Let’s face it, as home openers go, this year’s isn’t particularly compelling. While I expect the game eventually will be an official sell-out, there’ll probably be some empty seats — just as there usually are for games against weak opponents.

And yet a year ago when the Dogs opened on the road against the highly touted Oklahoma State Cowboys, fans (and Mark Richt) were complaining that Georgia’s nonconference schedule was too tough with three BCS schools.

Personally, I prefer an opener against a “name” opponent, and if you look at the Dogs’ opening games in the Richt era, their best years have started out with what was at least nominally more of a challenge: Clemson in 2002 and 2003, Boise State in 2005, Okie State in 2007. Last year, also opening with the Pokes, was the exception, but that was on the road.

Of course, given the consistency of Richt’s tenure, the years they’ve opened against Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and Western Kentucky, the Dogs haven’t exactly had bad seasons. Just not their best.

So what are your feelings about opening opponents? Do you like essentially buying a win against a no-name as the Dogs get ready for the conference opener against South Carolina, or do you prefer the years with Georgia puts it on the line from the start? And what about this year, will you be in the sweltering throng in Athens watching the Dogs vs. the Ragin’ Cajuns or will you watch this one on the SEC Network?

SEC POWER RANKINGS

Georgia has made a move in the latest preseason SEC power rankings compiled by Chris Low of ESPN.com. Coming out of spring practice, Low had Georgia at No. 6, but in his latest list UGA has jumped up to No. 3, behind Alabama and Florida.

Explains Low: “The Bulldogs’ returning experience on the offensive line, their playmakers on offense and some of the best special teams in the country was what separated them from Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and South Carolina.” He adds, though, that “There’s not a lot of difference in the third best team and eighth best team, which should make for an intriguing fall.”

Do you agree the Dogs look like the third-best team in the conference at this point?

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124 comments Add your comment

Sam

August 10th, 2010
11:21 am

3rd sounds about right. A lot of questions need to be answered. Depth on defense might be an issue not to mention a new system. QB who has never taken a snap also has to be a concern.

lastgrad

August 10th, 2010
11:24 am

Fill the stands with our fans watching a big game. The opponent will enjoy our Dawg Days Afternoon heat as much as we will. Not to mention the beat down we give them on the field.

Athens > Hotlanta

August 10th, 2010
11:35 am

PT

August 10th, 2010
11:35 am

A fine example of why the SEC is the best in all of college football

Athens > Hotlanta

August 10th, 2010
11:36 am

guy

August 10th, 2010
11:45 am

PT: what is a fine example? teams playing cupcakes for their openers? uga being ranked 3rd in the sec? how aare either of these examples of the sec being the best in college football?

(not that i disagree, but your comment makes no sense)

Gunny

August 10th, 2010
11:46 am

I’m looking forward to seeing the new defense. I remember when ERK was alive and was Ga’s def coach.You have to hope the new QB gets settled against an inferior opponent and gets his rythem.

The Advocate

August 10th, 2010
11:49 am

I say Mark Richt has to put up or go away. Since he has been at UGA, LSU has won two national titles with two coaches, one of those coaches, Nick saban has won two titles the latest with Alabama and Urban Myer has won two national titles, what has the great Mark Richt done? Every now and then he placates the Bulldog nation with an SEC Title, that’s it. He seasons are at best mediocre with teams that have tremendous talent. Again, he needs to produce or move on.

kevin

August 10th, 2010
11:52 am

3rd sounds right to me with SC being close behind. The Arkansas hype is unjustified. They have a strong, more experienced offense returning, but they also return the worst defense in the SEC–and while pundits have been picking them rather high, there has been no mention of an improved defense. They look to be the same team as last year.

lifer

August 10th, 2010
11:54 am

I will be in the sweltering throng in the stadium!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kevin

August 10th, 2010
11:54 am

The Adovocate,

In 2002 UGA finished with the same record as LSU and UF the years they won their NCs, but did not benefit since their were 2 undefeated teams that year. In 2007, UGA was clearly the best team in the SEC at years end and was denied the NC game. Can’t blame Richt for UF and LSU’s luck and our bad luck.

How2fish

August 10th, 2010
11:55 am

I think that ranking is about right , and I for one am glad we have a opening game that will allow Murray and the new D some game day experience prior to opening our SEC schedule . I’m glad we don’t open with South Carolina heck the next week will still be tough as heck to get a win in Columbia. Hopefully we can get a win some game experience and no one gets hurt!

civi dawg

August 10th, 2010
11:57 am

I like playing name opponents to start the season, but the major changes to our defense almost necessitates a weak, transitional game. As for the rankings, as much as I like our O-Line (most important piece of a strong offense), I can’t agree with us being #3 right now. I really feel like we need to prove ourselves. I think that we definitely have the potential to win the East; we need to prove it on the field though.

kydawg

August 10th, 2010
11:58 am

I would love to be there in the heat but I live too far away and don’t have tix. I think 3rd is about right…we’ll have to earn the rest on the field!

With our QB’s being this young…we need an easy opener…although we could struggle if we take too lightly.

Hunker Down

August 10th, 2010
12:00 pm

How about GA State openner in the future?

South Jax Dawg

August 10th, 2010
12:01 pm

Run the ball, run the ball, and run the some more! We can pound the rock against any team in the counrty. Do this and we can get to Atlanta.

SD Dawg

August 10th, 2010
12:01 pm

I think the ranking is about right, particularly the part about there not being a lot of difference between 3-8. Yes I believe we have more talent than most of those other teams (except for maybe LSU), but we need to prove that on the field. And we’ll have an opportunity in games 2 and 3. We’ll see…

How2fish

August 10th, 2010
12:06 pm

Hunker Down Ga State is an interesting idea.

Dbalcer

August 10th, 2010
12:12 pm

I will be there on opening day to root the DAWGS on. I can’t wait.

Hunker Down

August 10th, 2010
12:15 pm

Howtofish,

I agree 100% that give Murray some game experience and hopefully if a mistake is made it won’t defeat us in the game. Yep, we need to keep everyone healthy this year.

RFP

August 10th, 2010
12:16 pm

I have season tickets, but will not be attending the home opener. One of my friends I met at UGA scheduled an out of town wedding that weekend. I’m really rethinking our friendship.

Also, I don’t mind opening against a cupcake. Everyone else does it and we can certainly use it as a tune up since there are no preseason games and we’re breaking in a frosh QB.

Dog Forever

August 10th, 2010
12:30 pm

I have been a dog fan since I can remember. I am 47 years old and I must finally say this. Georgia will never win squat until Mike Bobo is not calling plays. If you look at every single game he has called plays, it was screwed up. Georgia has the same exact talent, facilities, support, and schedule as everyone else that is winning national championships. The key to every Ga. loss is we are outcoached every single game. Go back on look at the tape.

tbone

August 10th, 2010
12:30 pm

Hopefully the coaches will be putting in the Offensive & Defensive game plan for USCe before we play ULL. We need the game experience more than we need to surprise Spurrier. Having confidence, not doubts, going into that game will be huge too. That all works for me.

John

August 10th, 2010
12:33 pm

As an Auburn season ticket holder, I see the same thing happen. When Auburn plays one of the directional schools or a 1-AA opponent, a lot of the people around me either don’t show up at all pr give their tickets away. The student section, which usually fills close to an hour before the game and is still full at the end of the game, has some empty seats and usually vacates by early in the third quarter. I don’t like fans who do this but I really can’t blame them. I really wish all SEC teams would beef up their nonconference schedules.

Hunker Down

August 10th, 2010
12:35 pm

To RFP,
My wife scheduled our wedding date in Novemeber of 1988. What was she ever thinking? we played UF on that day. I seriously considered being down at the local sports bar instead. The good news is we did win that year in Jacksonville. Go Dawgs!

Dogit

August 10th, 2010
12:38 pm

Will it be too hot to wear red panties?

Reality

August 10th, 2010
12:39 pm

As usual, over rated and over hyped. This team is a second tier, mediocre SEC team. Say, behind Bama, FLA, LSU, ARK, SC, AUB, TENN, and then GA.

Blackberry Cobbler

August 10th, 2010
12:39 pm

With so much uncertainty about this years team, there are no cupcakes on the schedule.

I agree with Advocate at 11:49. I’m tired of UGA mediocrity and the problems/issues on and off the field. It’s past time for CMR to produce a winner or pack up and he and Watergirl move on.

WOW

August 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

Did anyone watch the Georgia team last year?

JP

August 10th, 2010
12:50 pm

What is CFN smoking? UGA @ #3 is hilarious.

RFP

August 10th, 2010
12:52 pm

Hunker Down, I feel for you. The good news is that we will still be able to catch the opener on TV before the wedding.

Glad to see the Tech fans decided to join the conversation (Dogit and Reality). In reality, we open and close the season with cupcake teams. Wouldn’t we all agree that beating someone 8 out of the last 9 years would make the losing team a cupcake? Sorry I can’t wait for the responses from the Tech nerds, but I am heading to the airport.

Go Dawgs!

I will not be the next head coach at Alabama. I am the head coach of the Miami Dolphins

August 10th, 2010
12:54 pm

Great discussion here. Though, we have missed one important point. When booking nonconference teams (open weekend or not), we have to look at who we play from the SEC West. In a year that we rotate to Bama and/or LSU, we don’t need to add another possible loss to them, Auburn, TN, and UF. This year, we rotate to MSU and Arkkansaww, and could have booked a more formidable nonconference foe. Though, we do have Colarado, who was once a pretty good team. We booked this series several years ago, when perhaps CO was having a more successful run.

In the end, we have to keep in mind most nonconference games are scheduled several years out.

News

August 10th, 2010
12:56 pm

Feedback from Athens says Smith isnt going
to make the roster

BR Dawg

August 10th, 2010
12:59 pm

The Advocate: If you think that CMR must “put up or go away,” I would love to know how you feel about Les Miles. His mediocrity has been hidden behind the talent on his team & luck on the field in the past, but finally peeked out last season. I give him one more season at LSU, because let’s face it, the Tigers will have one too many losses this season that the fans can put up with.

Go Dawgs!

ca dawg

August 10th, 2010
12:59 pm

cfn has a longer memory than those of you who apparently just started watching UGA play last year. they know that even the best programs have occasional bad years (UF in ‘07, or oklahoma last year, for example). not saying we’re on the same level as these teams, but i am saying we’ve consistently been one of the best teams in the SEC under CMR.

but bill, to answer your question: we’re somewhere in the second tier (#3 to #5; i think #6 is too low). i firmly believe we can beat florida this year and win the east, but there’s no reason for anyone to give us that kind of deference in the preseason. we have to go out and do it on the field.

Reality CHECK

August 10th, 2010
1:00 pm

Reality, Either your not real smart or don’t know the first thing about college football. Second tier team….You are first tier dumbA$$

ACC

August 10th, 2010
1:01 pm

They are too busy with all the drunkenness at UGA ( No 1 Party School) to play football. SEC is going down and ACC is coming up. More teams in top twenty for ACC preseason rankings. ACC better with Academics too. SEC is for losers and party like UGA. No academics. Losers party instead of taking academics and future serious. ACC all the way.

guy

August 10th, 2010
1:05 pm

so does that mean uga is a cupcake game for florida? we beat you guys more often than you guys beat vandy. or kentucky…

ca dawg

August 10th, 2010
1:08 pm

reality: your assessment is out of step with virtually every fact in existence. last year our subpar dawg team beat three of the teams you mention as being better than us. i don’t understand how you figure UT is better than us: they’re breaking in a new QB, an entirely new OL, a new RB, and their DL is decimated by injuries. please gather some information before forming an opinion.

the truth is that UF and bama are clearly at the top of the SEC, and things are hard to project below that. there are a number of teams that have some strengths and weaknesses, and it’s hard to know how it will play out on the field.

Reality

August 10th, 2010
1:08 pm

Reality CHECK

August 10th, 2010
1:00 pm
Reality, Either your not real smart or don’t know the first thing about college football. Second tier team….You are first tier dumbA$$

Oh, I know a lot about college football. I know you were pre-season #1 in 08 (as usual, over-ranked), got your butt whipped by the little bugs in your own cesspool, they laid 45 on your “pre-season #1″. Lost in the cesspool last year to Kentucky—-KENTUCKY???. Blown out by TENN, even with a new coach, etc. For 20 years, Florida’s beeyotch…yep. as usual, over rated and over hyped.

FORTY ONE POINTS to your seventeen points

August 10th, 2010
1:10 pm

Hey mutties!

((((((((((((((((((41-17)))))))))))))

DawginLex

August 10th, 2010
1:27 pm

Reality,

don’t let the facts get in the way of your venom but go back and check out the last 20 years and compare preseason ranking to final ranking.

i think you will be surprised to learn that Georgia scores higher at being underrated than florida does.

I know this will destroy your venom spewing based on years of sound research you have conducted so just ignore it like all the other facts.

Dr M

August 10th, 2010
1:43 pm

You can’t talk about “fickle fans” because the phrase is redundant.

RedPantsDawg

August 10th, 2010
1:44 pm

Not having Willie and Fabris on the sideline is going to make a huge difference this year. The talent is there; but hasn’t been coached up for a while. Correcting being out of position, forcing turnovers, and getting the kickoffs corrected are going to bring better results this year.

dawg daze

August 10th, 2010
1:49 pm

You are lucky to start with a scrimmage this year with a QB that has no starts. What would happen if you started with a “Pokes” type game this year?

Start with a loss to ranked team and stay unranked for a long time. Start with a patsy win and at least you do not go down in rankings. But….SC will be your first L

abc

August 10th, 2010
1:52 pm

SEC is the best in the nation, really? The Big 12 has twice as many teams in the preseason top 10.

‘Course, that’s just the preseason rankings. We’ll see what’s up a few weeks in.

bungle bee

August 10th, 2010
1:55 pm

Ya know I don’t get all the GT excitement, for all the crowing the nerds are doing about their last year’s team performance, they won the ACC sure, but of their regular season wins; 4 are by 5 points or less
And this season they lose two of their biggest offensive weapons; so why in the world do the nerds think the cripple option is so great? Who cares if you rack up a million yards but only win by 3 or 5?

I’d be worried about opposing d-coordinators formulating better schemes having seen the same offence for two consecutive years. Those 3-5 point wins could very well be 3-5 point losses in 2010

CharlestowneDawg

August 10th, 2010
1:56 pm

I don’t think LA-LaFayette could come at a better time. I’d be a lot more uneasy about the season in general if we were leading off against Okie State again.

Florida doesn’t win National Championships by scheduling Ohio States and Michigans for their season openers (i.e. Charleston Southern, Western Kentucky, Hawaii). Just making it through the SEC slate is difficult enough.

If you’re gonna have a no-name opponent, it’s best to put them as the opener. People will still come out to the opener because it’s the first game of the season.

Seriously

August 10th, 2010
1:59 pm

bungle

3 points was enough in 08 wasn’t it?

DawgByte

August 10th, 2010
2:05 pm

With a great coach…we’d likely be top 10 in the nation and certainly favored to win the SEC in a down year like this one. Bama has to replace 9 on D. UF has to replace 5 stud defensive stars and Tebow! LSU is certainly not as good as the the Tigers of a few short years ago. UT is in the dumps! We won the National title in 1980 with a weakened SEC. We only played two SEC teams that year with winning records. The SEC may not be that weak this year but in comparison to the past 4 years this is by far the weakest the conference has been. Yet, Richt does not really even have us in the conversation for SEC champs much less anything nationally. What’s up with that? Time for a change in Athens! His stardom on the party video certainly shows his Christian hypocrisy…Believe Christ was against drunkeness and other elements that go along with partying.