One down and seven to go.
After last Saturday night’s 31-3 pounding against Mississippi State, Georgia is now 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division with multiple challenges ahead. Despite UGA’s No. 7 national ranking there is work to be done in the coming days, weeks and months for the Bulldog football entourage.
The SEC East race has been, is and forever will be a marathon. The Bulldogs have everything it takes to win the East championship. But the division title is something that is earned on the field. It is not given away. Georgia is the popular favorite to win such a title as the SEC East. But between now and the end of November, Georgia will be tested and pushed to the brink with some backbreaking conference games against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, South Carolina, Auburn and Kentucky.
The Dogs also play Missouri at home on Oct. 14. Georgia has more talent than all of those teams. But talent alone does not win football games in the Southeastern Conference. On every autumn Saturday in the SEC, a team’s manhood is checked at the front door. Georgia, like everybody else, will have to deal with injuries, the pressure of the moment and winning games when you are not playing your best. Nobody plays at exactly the same level every week except maybe Alabama and the New England Patriots.
What the Georgia Bulldogs do have going for themselves is a deep roster, a good coaching staff and the most important thing, team chemistry. The Dogs are one of those football teams that don’t care who gets the credit. Georgia has a unselfish football team. The Dogs are unified and off the hinge when it comes to everyday effort.UGA has some grinders, coupled with some 5-star skill players. The Bulldogs are in this together.
They have found the right level of camaraderie. So far this year the Dogs have taken no days off or any plays off. That is why they are 4-0 overall with no less than two monster wins over Notre Dame in South Bend and Mississippi State in Athens.
Georgia is just one third of the way through a snotknocking regular season 12-game slate. Not only are the Dogs not out of the woods, Georgia’s best opponents have not even been played yet. So every day is a chance to get better for Nick Chubb, Jake Fromm, Terry Godwin, Sony Michel, Javon Wims, Lorenzo Carter, Natrez Patrick and 6-foot-4, 309-pound junior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson.
No doubt, Georgia has the talent and the guts. But do the Dogs have the staying power and the finishing power? Can Georgia break Florida’s three-game winning streak over the Dogs in Jacksonville?
Can UGA come from behind on the road at Auburn? And can the Bulldogs win some gut-wrenching SEC games when all the pressure is on them?
The answers are probably “yes,” but we don’t know for sure. That’s why they keep score and play the games. The championship belt is still out there without anybody in it.
Coach Kirby Smart and the Dogs would like to think their time is now. We shall find out beginning this Saturday afternoon in Knoxville as Georgia takes their Eastern Division hopes and dreams to a sold out Neyland Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. start on CBS television.
The Vols will be waiting, and they will have their game face on. Game day in the SEC is a football experience from the cole slaw to the bruised egos. Georgia knows that.