Archive for the ‘UGA/SEC’ Category

This nutty Tech season could yield a truly hilarious ending

Believe it or note, both of these teams could land in Miami. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Believe it or not, both of these teams could land in Miami come New Year's. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Georgia Tech could wind up in the Orange Bowl, or it could grace no bowl at all. At this moment, the Jackets are bowl-eligible; come Saturday night, they might not be. Got that?

“It’s been a different year,” Paul Johnson said Tuesday, which is an understatement on a par with, “Bill Gates isn’t hurting for money.”

After a full regular season, Tech is neither a winning or a losing team — but it might yet be a conference champion. Generally speaking, when serendipity takes a hand it lifts a good team to greater heights. Somehow serendipity seems to have taken a shine to these middling Jackets, who lost by 21 points to Middle Tennessee and by 32 to Georgia.

The Jackets have played 12 games, losing half. They have beaten one team (North Carolina) that finished above .500. Carolina was one of three teams that tied for first place in the ACC Coastal Division, but the Tar Heels …

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Heat Check: Destiny’s Dogs? No-bowl Jackets? Whoa, Nelly

Surrounded by the enemy: Tech's band in Athens. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Surrounded by the enemy: The Georgia Tech band in Sanford Stadium. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Our Heat Check arrives just in time to warm what promises to be a chilly week. Face facts, folks: There’s not much happening in local sports.

Kidding.

GEORGIA: Will play for the BCS title — some guy I know predicted they would — with a victory over Alabama on Saturday. Barometric reading: Three weeks ago, people were saying the Bulldogs would have no chance against the mighty Tide. A lot of those same people seem to have changed their minds, and I’m not just talking about Georgia fans. I’m talking about neutrals who see the Dogs as no less talented as Bama. Just as Bacarri Rambo said.

GEORGIA TECH: Paul Johnson now believes his Jackets didn’t give much of an effort in Athens. (Who knew, huh?) But if Tech can rouse itself to topple Florida State — maybe the nation’s most overrated team — in Charlotte on Saturday, the Jackets will be headed for what Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports calls

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UGA isn’t just playing a team – it’s facing the Alabama aura

Emperor Saban and his band of conquerors charge onward to the next fray. (AP photo)

Emperor Saban and his band of crimson conquerors charge onward to the next fray. (AP photo)

Heard often: Georgia’s path to the SEC championship game was facilitated by a schedule that didn’t include Western powers Alabama (No. 2 in the BCS standings), LSU (No. 7) and Texas A&M (No. 9).

Heard less often: Alabama’s path to the SEC championship game was facilitated by a schedule that didn’t include Eastern powers Georgia (No. 3), Florida (No. 4) and South Carolina (No. 10).

Heard often: Georgia’s biggest victory of the season was largely a function of six Florida turnovers.

Heard less often: Alabama’s biggest victory of the season was largely a function of four failed kicking ploys from the fertile mind of LSU’s Les Miles.

There’s a military acronym — RHIP. It stands for, “Rank has its privileges.” Ranking matters in college football, where two-thirds of the BCS standings consist of human polls, and privilege has tangible benefits. The benefit of being Alabama is that you never …

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His Jackets pull a no-show, and Paul Johnson is not pleased

This one picture is worth a hundred thousand words. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

This one picture is worth a couple of hundred thousand words, give or take. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Athens – There were two snippets of good news for Georgia Tech on an otherwise wretched Saturday: The Jackets still get to play for the ACC Championship, and the Georgia Bulldogs will be occupied elsewhere.

Other than that, this was a wipeout of epic dimensions. It wasn’t quite as bad as the 51-7 loss here in 2002, but at least that drubbing came in Year 1 under a new coach. This one arrived in Year 5 under Paul Johnson, who seemed the anti-Chan Gailey. Meaning: A man who could hold his own against the hated mutts. (Gailey went for 0-for-6.) But now Johnson, after stunning the Bulldogs on his first try, has lost four in a row to Georgia, and the series has again gone lopsided.

And Johnson, who on taking this job ordered that the slogan “Beat Georgia” be displayed on Tech’s practice field, was not pleased. Afterward his voice could be heard — at great volume and great …

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Richt was right: UGA is ‘knocking on the door’ of greatness

Mark Richt: Two games to go, two thumbs up? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Noted critic Mark Richt gave Georgia's clinching of the SEC East two thumbs up. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Mark Richt called this shot. Speaking in Tampa on the first day of 2012, he said of his Georgia Bulldogs: ““We’re going to be knocking on the door of the greatest success you can have in college football, and if you knock long enough, you’ll eventually break through.”

Some folks tittered, noting that Georgia had just lost the SEC championship game by 32 points. A day later, when the Bulldogs (and Richt, too) messed up every which way in blowing the Outback Bowl to Michigan State, the tee-hees became hardy-har-hars. A team that had gone 0-4 against ranked opponents would go on to achieve “the greatest success you can have in college football”? Dream on, brother.

Eleven months later, the dreamer awakes and smells a heady blend of coffee. If the Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech on Saturday, they will stand on the cusp of the BCS title game. Granted, they’ll face a massive …

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Can Georgia Tech ruin UGA’s season? (Video added)

The dynamics changed Monday morning. With Miami’s decision to exclude itself from postseason play, Georgia Tech claimed the ACC Coastal Division title. So now, for the first time, Tech and Georgia will meet with both having, to borrow Paul Johnson’s pithy phrase, bigger fish to fry. Win or lose Saturday, both will play for conference championships a week later.

But these two division titlists are not equal. The Jackets are 6-5, and the best they can do is to play in the Orange Bowl. (Not that the Orange Bowl, given that Tech just nosed above .500, would be a bad deal.) The Bulldogs are 10-1, and with two more victories they will play for the BCS crown. Georgia has much more to lose. The Jackets are 14-point road underdogs against an opponent they’ve beaten once since George Godsey ran through Jim Donnan’s crew of NFL-caliber defenders in 2000.

If these teams met 10 times, Georgia would win nine. But the Jackets have only to beat Georgia once to make their season and …

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Heat Check: Hot ‘Dogs face a warm swarm of Yellow Jackets

This was the one time the Richt-coached Bulldogs didn't beat Tech. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

This was the one time the Mark Richt-coached Bulldogs didn't beat Tech. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Given that this is Thanksgiving week, our Heat Check begins about where you’d expect.

GEORGIA: Will play for the SEC title. Could play for the BCS title. First, however, the Bulldogs must win the state title. This hasn’t been much of an issue for Mark Richt — he’s 10-1 against the North Avenue crew — but the one blip (in 2008, in case you’ve forgotten) was monumental. Barometric reading: Remember when we wondered if things would ever again get really good for this coach at this school? Richt’s team has a chance to finish all drills.

GEORGIA TECH: Will play for the ACC title, thanks to Miami’s decision to remove itself from postseason play. For a team that wasn’t sure it could wangle even a trip to Shreveport, that’s a nice bit of rallying. Barometric reading: Chances are, Tech will be an underdog — the opening line for this weekend favors Georgia by 14 points — in every …

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The SEC in flux: Four teams could be seeking new coaches

Could we soon see the SEC return of the uneasy rider? (AP photo)

Could the SEC soon see the return of the uneasy rider Bobby Petrino? (AP photo)

The mighty SEC could see a 29 percent change in coaches before November is done. Joker Phillips has already been told he’s out at Kentucky, and Arkansas is conducting a search even as interim John L. Smith lobbies to stay. (Good luck there. Smith inherited a Top 10 team and has gone 4-6. He has also declared bankruptcy, which may be why he needs the job.) And two of the league’s flagships — Auburn and Tennessee — figure to be holding we’ve-decided-to-go-in-different-direction press conferences soon.

Gene Chizik won a BCS title in 2010. In 2012 his Auburn Tigers have gone 0-7 in league play and have lost 63-21 to Texas A&M and 38-0 to Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Matt Scalici of Al.com reports that Chizik is telling recruits he will be back next season, but what’s a coach supposed to say?

After Tennessee lost to Missouri 51-48 in overtime Saturday to fall to 0-6 in SEC play, rumors swirled that …

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Duke beats Kentucky on a splendid night of Dome hoops

Seth Curry beats Julius Mays to the basket in Game 2. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

Duke's Seth Curry beats Julius Mays to the basket in Game 2. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

Nine days before Thanksgiving, there were four on the Georgia Dome floor. Come April 6 there will be four on this same floor, and if the past is a guide, some of these contestants will be included in that Final Four.

The Champions Classic, which alit here Tuesday night, is in Year 2 of its rotation. (Last year it was New York; next year it’s Chicago.) The teams that played in the final game of the 2011 Champions Classic in Madison Square Garden – Kentucky and Kansas – also graced the 2012 NCAA final in the Superdome. That’s known as a leading indicator.

The same foursome from last season’s Champions Classic was in place again, albeit in a different configuration. Kansas got Michigan State this time. Kentucky played Duke, and Kentucky and Duke, as you may have heard, have an NCAA tournament history.

From Rupp’s Runts outgunning Vic Bubas’ team in the 1966 Final Four to Jack Givens scoring 41 …

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Heat Check: Was cutting Ray Edwards a message sent?

"So, Brian, how's this Auburn gig working out?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"So, former colleague Brian VanGorder, how's this Auburn gig working out?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Our weekly Heat Check appears a day late but, one hopes, not quite a dollar short.

FALCONS: Lost for the first time this season against the rival that has become an abject nemesis and, in losing, saw their biggest weaknesses – can’t run the ball, can’t stop the run — exposed. And what were the two things Mike Smith, after taking this job in January 2008, said a good team had to do? Run the ball and stop the run. Barometric reading: Barely 24 hours later, the Falcons cut defensive end Ray Edwards, who had little to do with Sunday’s loss but who did little after signing as a big-ticket free agent. Students of Falcons history will note that, after the first loss of the 1998 season, Dan Reeves cut cornerback Juran Bolden for messing up a coverage in San Francisco. Those Falcons would go 14-2 and make the Super Bowl.

(Please see my video chat with Brian Clark of CineSport, …

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