If ever a team deserved an open date on its schedule, it‚Äôs probably Georgia right about now.
The Bulldogs have already experienced a wave of emotions with a rugged slate of back-to-back games against top-10 teams in Clemson and South Carolina to start the season.
Georgia‚Äôs season hit a mini-crisis after a Week 1 loss by three points to the Tigers and its spirits soared after a 41-30 win Saturday against the Gamecocks.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs kind of like dog years,‚Äù Georgia coach Mark Richt said. ‚ÄúYou feel a little older than you are sometimes, but also it‚Äôs so gratifying to win. Back when I was at Florida State we won a lot of games, but we didn‚Äôt celebrate many victories because there was a bigger margin of victory. The battles were a little bit different. There were two or three battles a year where you really had to get your blood pumping. You‚Äôre probably eight to 10 in our league and who we play out of conference. It‚Äôll wear you out.‚Äù
Sixteen teams in this week‚Äôs Associated Press top-25 poll have not played a ranked opponent yet this season. Georgia is the only team to play two and they were ranked No. 6 and No. 8 at the time.
‚ÄúLosing your first game is not fun at all, especially when it‚Äôs that big of a game and the whole world is watching, but I‚Äôd have to say it helped us in game two,‚Äù said Richt, whose team heads into the bye week having moved up to No. 9 in the AP poll and No. 10 in the coaches‚Äô poll. ‚ÄúWe realized there‚Äôs no margin for error in big games.‚Äù
South Carolina isn‚Äôt the only SEC East rival of Georgia licking its wounds.
Florida is coming off a 21-16 loss at Miami. It plays its first SEC game Sept. 21 at home against Tennessee. The Gators have to play Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla., and have games at South Carolina and LSU.
Georgia‚Äôs path back to a third consecutive the SEC championship game appearance still includes a home game against No. 8 LSU on Sept. 28.
South Carolina isn‚Äôt taking consolation knowing that Georgia lost to the Gamecocks the past two years but still reached the SEC title game.
‚ÄúI hope we‚Äôre just sort of back to earth that were not a really good team right now,‚Äù South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday. ‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt have to worry about any kind of division or SEC championship. We‚Äôre worried about going to a bowl game right now.‚Äù
On his TV show, Spurrier said: ‚ÄúGeorgia dominated the game and defensively it was one of the worst games we‚Äôve had around here in a long time. ‚Ä¶ We got our butts kicked up and down the field by Georgia.‚Äù
Georgia had two players, tailback Todd Gurley and quarterback Aaron Murray, who looked like Heisman Trophy contenders.
Gurley has rushed for 286 yards and three touchdowns in two games and is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
‚ÄúJust watching Gurley run was fun,‚Äù Richt said after viewing film Sunday.
Murray was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Offensive Player of the Week after completing 17 of 23 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns against South Carolina.
Georgia essentially has three weeks to prepare for LSU.
The Bulldogs‚Äô next game is Sept. 21 against North Texas, which lost at Ohio 27-21 Saturday after beating Idaho 40-6. North Texas plays Ball State on Saturday.
Notes: The injury news was good for offensive tackle Kenarious Gates (ankle) and tailback Keith Marshall (knee). Richt said both are expected back for North Texas. ‚Ä¶ Marshall Morgan again is the starting kicker after coming off a two-game suspension. He‚Äôll replace Patrick Beless, who made all 10 extra points he attempted this season and the two field goal tries Saturday from 22 and 37 yards. Morgan was suspended for two games after being arrested for boating under the influence. ‚ÄúMarshall has made a mistake, Marshall‚Äôs been disciplined for that and I‚Äôm not going to continue to punish him,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúRight now I‚Äôm expecting Marshall to come in and take over the kicking duties, but it‚Äôs good to know that Patrick is capable and has been in big games and can come in a pinch if we need to.‚Äù ‚Ä¶ South Carolina defensive assistants Kirk Botkin and Deke Adams had to be separated by defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward after a sideline dust-up. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre OK now,‚Äù Spurrier. ‚ÄúThey were out of character. Obviously that need not happen anymore. When the guys are very competitive and we can‚Äôt get a stop ‚Ä¶ it was one of those things.‚Äù Richt couldn‚Äôt remember something similar happening on his staff in a game since he‚Äôs been at Georgia. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve had plenty of stuff on the practice field that if it was out in the open, everybody would be like, ‚ÄòWhat‚Äôs going on?‚Äô Guys are very competitive and tempers get hot every once in a while, but everybody‚Äôs fine when it‚Äôs over.‚Äù ‚Ä¶ Tailback Brendan Douglas and wide receiver Reggie Davis made their Georgia debuts on Saturday, bringing the total number of scholarship freshmen to play this season to 11.