Normally ESPN’s College GameDay is greeted with jubilation on hosting campuses. Who would balk at the opportunity to host some of the biggest names and personalities in the world of college football? Why would anyone push back against the national exposure that GameDay brings to a hosting university?
As it turns out, the home crowd in Athens, Ga. is none too pleased. Georgia is 3-13 all time when playing at the location of College GameDay. Perhaps that explains Bulldog fans’ collective frustration with ESPN’s plans to invade Athens, Ga.
Fortunately for those who bleed red and black, the so-called “GameDay Curse” is rooted more in superstition than actual bad news.
Historically speaking, many of Georgia’s 13 GameDay losses are easily explained without using words like “ESPN” or “Corso.”
Seven of these losses occurred when Georgia was ranked lower than its opposition:
- 1995: Unranked Georgia lost to 8th ranked Tennessee
- 1998: Unranked Georgia lost to Tennessee.
- 1999: 10th ranked Georgia lost to 5th ranked Florida.
- 2003: 5th ranked Georgia lost to 3rd ranked LSU.
- 2004: 5th ranked Georgia lost to 3rd ranked Auburn.
- 2011: 15th ranked Georgia lost to top ranked LSU.
- 2012: 3rd ranked Georgia lost to 2nd ranked Alabama.
It’s quite a leap to blame these losses on the location of a pregame television show. On the other hand, it makes sense that the higher ranked team would win a football game.
Two more of the losses (2003 loss at LSU, 2012 loss at South Carolina) came against ranked opponents on the road. One would be hard-pressed to blame last year’s debacle at South Carolina on the presence of Kirk Herbstreit.
It’s more logical to admit that playing on the road in the SEC against a Top 25 opponent is a daunting task. It’s never easy to play in Baton Rouge or Columbia. That’s not College GameDay’s fault.
Another two losses came against the University of Florida at a neutral site in Jacksonville. In 2002, 5th ranked Georgia lost to unranked Florida by a score of 20-13. In 2005, 4th ranked Georgia was upset by number 16 Florida in an ugly 14-10 ballgame.
College GameDay was at both of these games. But again, it’s hard to blame these two losses on the alleged curse knowing the broader context of this rivalry. From 1990-2010 the Gators won 18 of 21 matchups with the Bulldogs. These two losses came in the middle of an era that saw complete domination by Florida. College GameDay doesn’t explain Georgia’s other 16 losses to Florida during this time frame.
The remaining unaccounted for losses represent two of the more painful setbacks in recent Georgia history. In 2008, Nick Saban’s upstart Alabama Crimson Tide team rolled into Athens and ruined Georgia’s blackout game. Earlier this season, Georgia suffered a heartbreaking loss to an elite Clemson team.
Those games hurt, but College GameDay did not hurt the Dawgs’ chances. Georgia lost in 2008 because Saban’s squad was more physically imposing. Georgia lost at Clemson this year because the Bulldogs made a myriad of early season mistakes.
Fortunately for Georgia, this game will still be played Between the Hedges in Sanford Stadium, not at Myers Quad (the presumed location of the GameDay set). Accordingly, Georgia will yet again have a chance to win this game on the field.
College GameDay was in attendance in 2004 when Georgia defeated South Carolina in Columbia.
Georgia won that game because its defense did not allow a single South Carolina point over the game’s final 42 minutes.
Chris Fowler and company did not defeat Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2007. Matthew Stafford’s 25-yard strike to Mikey Henderson in overtime was the deciding factor that day.
College GameDay typically shows up at the nation’s premier game each weekend, and unfortunately Georgia has struggled in such big games as of late regardless of the ESPN Crew’s location. This is another opportunity for Georgia to reverse a trend.
Don’t forget, just two weeks ago the nation’s No. 6 ranked team (South Carolina) came into Athens and was soundly defeated by a Georgia team that didn’t shy away from the moment. College GameDay won’t prevent that from happening again. But LSU might.