While it is common knowledge, supported by historical reference, football teams usually experience letdowns after peak performance. Further, they are often blindsided when caught looking ahead.
After Georgia thrashed Auburn 45-7, you knew that it would be difficult for the team to come back a week later with an efficient performance. There were plenty of bouquets thrown the defense’s way, which didn’t seem to have any ill effects after Auburn. There is not much need for timing and precision on defense, however. This is worth underscoring: You never apologize for victory, no matter how you manage it. It was good, too, that the Bulldogs were playing Kentucky at home. In the final analysis, Georgia partisans can take comfort in the long-held truism, “That all’s well that ends well.”
Pre-game, all you could hear was talk of the Southeastern Conference. Nobody heeded the notion that to play at the Georgia Dome, you first must get there. After all, Kentucky came into the game in great disfavor, even with many of their own supporters. Six-time losers this season, the Wildcats had just lost to Vanderbilt in Nashville, 38-8. Georgia fans were basking in the glory of an emotionally fulfilling victory over Auburn and had an SEC championship on their minds.
Fans are understandably emotional about football, jumping off bandwagons as often as they climb aboard, depending on the rise and fall of the fortunes of their favorite team on Saturdays. Players read and hear. They are aware of punch lines and trends of thought. Wonder how sad the atmosphere is in Stillwater, Okla., today. The Oklahoma State Cowboys weren’t thinking about Iowa State last week. They had Oklahoma on their minds.
What was Oklahoma thinking four weeks ago with Texas Tech playing in Norman, Okla.? The Sooners were giving up an average of 15.8 points per game but lost at home by allowing Tech to post 41 points on the scoreboard. They were probably figuring out how they would get to the national championship game. Now, after losing to Baylor, the Sooners want to beat Oklahoma State and earn an attractive bowl invitation. Their hopes of a national championship have ended.
Georgia has gotten to where it stands today — a rise to prominence after starting the season 0-2—by taking a “one-game-at-a-time” approach. Fans seem to have been on the same page for eight weeks, but with the Bulldogs favored by 30.5 points over Kentucky, everybody seemed to slide into the take-things-for-granted mode.
Why not register more concern about Georgia Tech and its peculiar offense this week? If you want to play for a championship, why not try to clear everything in your path before you take on the best team from the West. The best way to lose to the Yellow Jackets is to look ahead to the SEC championship game.
One must give Mark Richt credit for doing what you seek to do every year in football—have your team peak at the end of the season. While the Dawgs seem to be in a near perfect mode for Auburn, the question is, “Can they play better?” Championship teams, take care of business, and that includes the in-state rivalry. It would give the team a boost in attitude and preparation to play in the championship game with a 10-2 record.
Special teams play has improved, and the offense is scoring points, the lack of touchdown production against Kentucky, notwithstanding. The defense is creating turnovers which will be a much needed trend against Georgia Tech with its option offense which teams often need more than a week to solve.
The state championship is the most important championship. Win it and then aspire to greater achievement.