Friday, July 25, 2008

Georgia: If we would have only...

2002 vs Florida

I think this is the toughest call of any team. Would the Dawgs rather have back the 2002 game against Florida, the 2007 game against South Carolina, or the 2007 game against Tennessee? If the Dawgs would have pulled out Florida game, they would have finished the 2002 regular season undefeated. There's a good chance they would have been the BCS #2 and taken on Miami in the Fiesta Bowl for the BCS title. On the other hand, if they could have back either the South Carolina or Tennessee game from last year (both inexplicable in hindsight), they would have gotten LSU in Atlanta for the right to dominate Ohio State a month later for the BCS title. I won't even speculate on what the outcome of GA-OSU would have been; that's a no-brainer.

South Carolina and Tennessee caught the Dawgs early in the year before they hit their 2007 stride. Its fair to say neither Cocks nor Vols fans would have wanted a rematch in November. Its also easy to forget that Stafford and Knowshon were only a sophomore and a freshman. In 2002, Florida simply still owned the Cocktail Party, regardless of the fact that Ron Zook was in Gainesville. That game made it 12 of the past 13.

I believe Georgia would have had better luck against Miami in 2002 than against LSU in 2007. The two Georgia teams were similar; the defenses were the stronger units, the D-lines created lots of problems, and the sophomore quarterbacks were solid. There are two primary reasons to believe Georgia would have taken home the 2002 BCS title against Miami. First, Miami let its nearly 3-year winning streak go to its head, and Georgia would have had the same underdog chip on its shoulder that Ohio State had. More importantly, Larry Coker would have been outmatched. Coker just looks like a spookier version of your grandfather's drunk buddy. Whatever X's and O's he could have come up with would have fallen short. The game itself would have turned out to be a lot like the 1998 BCS title game, when Tennessee matched every bit of FSU's raw talent and controlled much of the game.

As for the game that did happen, Georgia fans just had to feel cursed. No third downs were converted the entire game. The lost two fumbles and missed two field goals. DJ Shockley, receiving inexplicable playing time as a freshman turnover machine, threw a pick six that ended up being the difference in the final score. Terrance Edwards dropped a wide open – WIDE OPEN - pass on their last drive. And just to prove they were still owned by the Gators, Georgia resident Ben Troupe caught the winning TD. Aren't there enough athletes in Florida already?

At the time, winning the SEC title and the Sugar Bowl in Richt's second year seemed like a good enough season. Greene and his buddy David Pollack were only sophomores, so fans knew they had two more cracks with these guys. That year was only supposed to be the beginning. But, as things always seem to happen a year or two before they're supposed to, the Dawgs didn't get back to a BCS game until after those two were gone, and fans in Georgia are still waiting on Richt to get them into one of the final two BCS spots.