If you talk to anyone about Georgia’s 2015 schedule, and ask them what are the key/biggest games, you’ll get a pretty standard answer. Alabama is the biggest game, likely a College Gameday type of game. Or, some would say Tennessee or Missouri games to solidify the SEC East. Some might say Florida is the key game, due to the rivalry and revenge factor. Others would look to our neighbors to the east and say you just have to win against South Carolina. Of course, Georgia Tech is a MUST win.
I won’t argue with the aforementioned games as being important, big games. But I think the game that will hold the answer to the question if Georgia is going to have a successful season actually isn’t one of those more marquee games.
It is the Vanderbilt game in week two.
Now, I am not going to be like the folks at Saturday Down South and predict a Vanderbilt upset. Even the most jaded among the fan base wouldn’t logically make that bold prediction.
This 2015 Vanderbilt squad isn’t the competently run teams under James Franklin, nor the pesky, well-coached teams under Bobby Johnson. Poor Derek Mason just doesn’t have it going there, and I doubt this is the year for them to get back to respectability.
Quick tangent-I truly believe that James Franklin should have won SEC Coach of the Year in 2012 or 2013 when he guided Vanderbilt to consecutive 9-4 records, with bowl victories. But that is neither here nor there.
No, lowly Vanderbilt shouldn’t provide much resistance to the Bulldogs in Nashville on September 12. The Vanderbilt game should be a good opportunity for a final tune to prepare for South Carolina.
But Nashville has been a shop of horrors for Georgia in recent trips, even when Georgia has had good, or great, teams.
Remember the 2003 game? If you don’t, then it’s OK. It wasn’t on regular TV, and I remember listening to Larry Munson’s call in my dorm room. 4th ranked Georgia limped to a 27-8 victory, but trailed at the half 0-2 on a safety. Eh, not exactly an inspiring performance.
2005 and 2009 were dominant performances, as they should’ve been.
In 2007, the 24th ranked Bulldogs were nearly upset and escaped with a 20-17 win. We all remember that game. We also remember that Georgia found its stride shortly after and finished #2 in the country.
2011 was another unnecessarily close nail biter, and that is more remembered for Drew Butler saving a touchdown on a bad snap, and Todd Grantham and James Franklin nearly fighting.
Of course, we don’t need to get into the most recent trip to Nashville, where the Georgia B team lost in horrendous fashion to a hungry Vanderbilt team, 31-27. The dreadful amount of injuries can be blamed, but bad calls had a lot to do. Of course, ultimately, continued errors on Special Teams proved to be the nail in the coffin for Georgia.
If Georgia goes into Nashville and fiddle farts around, sure, the season can still be successful and they can rebound and learn from that.
If Georgia truly wants to be considered among the national elite, and wants to contend for not only the SEC but loftier goals, they should exert their formidable will on Vanderbilt and win with ease.
Good teams win with ease. Great teams step on the throat.
And not go into halftime with a 0-2 deficit, or rely on the punter to save the season.
Before you play the big boys on the schedule, I think we’ll get a good idea if Georgia will continue to be very good, or if they are flirting with greatness.