A recent SportsNation poll conducted by ESPN.com put this question to fans: If you could only watch one SEC game next season, the game that was absolutely the must-see game in the league, which one would it be?
The winner, not surprisingly, was again Alabama-LSU, same as last year, with 42 percent of the vote. But the No. 2 pick, drawing 27 percent of the 10,000 votes cast, was the Georgia-South Carolina game on Oct. 6 in Columbia.
There’s no doubt the game between the Dawgs and Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks is a big one, and probably the toughest on Georgia’s less-than-challenging 2012 schedule.
But is it the most important game for Mark Richt’s team this season?
ESPN’s Chris Low seems to think it is, saying the game in Columbia “has as much or more riding on it for Georgia as any season in recent memory, and it’s always a pivotal contest. Until last season, the loser of this game had never advanced to the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs were able to change that by winning 10 in a row after their loss to the Gamecocks the second week of the season. Georgia has lost two in a row in the series, and the Bulldogs would prefer to control their own destiny in the East race heading into the latter part of October as opposed to needing help. Winning in Columbia, S.C., is never easy, but the road to a second straight trip to the SEC championship game for the Bulldogs will almost certainly go through the Palmetto State. What’s more, Georgia has never lost three in a row to South Carolina since the teams first started playing back in 1894 (64 meetings).”
So South Carolina is Georgia’s most important game? Well, maybe not. After all, as was proved in 2011, with the right schedule Georgia can lose to the Cocks and still take the SEC East crown, and that scenario very well could happen again this year.
And as the Senator at Get the Picture notes, there’s always Jacksonville. Georgia won over Florida last year but hasn’t taken back-to-back games against the Gators since 1989. And winning two in a row would certainly be a major step toward getting that Jacksonville Jinx monkey off the Dawgs’ backs.
Here’s how Blutarsky puts it: “It’s not a game they should go to merely hoping to win. It’s a game they should believe they can win. But I don’t think you cement that attitude unless you can win again this fall.”
That’s why he believes Georgia-Florida is the Dawgs’ biggest game of the year. “True, South Carolina is the bigger short-term threat to a defense of the East title,” he writes. “However, Florida has too many resources at its disposal not to return eventually to the place it’s occupied over the past two decades. … It’s time to flip the series.”
It’s a tough call. On the one hand, winning two in a row in Jacksonville would seem like a dream come true for the Bulldog Nation after the past two decades of mostly frustration down there. But losing three in a row to South Carolina and the Prince of Darkness? I’m not sure we wouldn’t be exchanging one nightmare for another there.
One thing’s for sure: Georgia has to beat at least one of the two to win the SEC East.
And there’s no denying another division title and two wins in a row over Florida would go a long way toward making up for a third loss to Carolina.
What’s your view? Which do you think is the most important game for the Dawgs this year?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg