Georgia-Florida: Keep Hope Alive, Dawg Fans, That's Why We Play the Game

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Georgia-Florida: Keep Hope Alive, Dawg Fans, That's Why We Play the Game
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Unless you live under a rock...deep in the ocean...in another hemisphere...you aren't likely to have missed the fact that the Georgia Bulldogs seem overmatched in their upcoming game against the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators.

The statistics for each team are daunting at best and only a few of them seem to offer the slightest glimmer of hope that the Dawgs can or will win.

So, this article is not about statistics and matchups—there are plenty of good ones out there already if you really just want to know the "facts." Here are a few if you like punishment. Just click here , here , or here for an eyeful.

No, this is about will...the will to win.

Under coach Mark Richt, this Georgia Bulldog team has been able to have and impose that will even when the opposition seemed prepared to stomp on it and render it useless.

 

Oct. 6, 2001—Knoxville, Tenn.

The Dawgs went into Knoxville to play the No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers and not many thought they would win. After all, the last time the Georgia Bulldogs had gone into Neyland Stadium and won was more than 20 years prior when a young man named Herschel Walker led them to a 16-15 victory.

Add to that the fact that this was coach Mark Richt's first SEC road game and there were still doubts lingering about his ability to move from a well-known offensive coordinator to a head coach in the SEC.

The Dawgs fought hard and with less than six minutes to go, it seemed the game was all but locked up with Georgia having a 20-17 lead and Tennessee having shown no offensive signs of life during the second half.

Tennessee managed to get the ball back and score to take the lead, 24-20, with 41 seconds left in the game.

If you were a Vol fan, you had to have figured that this was the end of the game. Well, where there's a will there's a way.

Unless you have lived under the previously referenced rock in the deepest part of the ocean, you already know how this one ends.
The freshman—and as yet, unproven—quarterback David Greene took over at the Tennessee 41 and led the Dawgs down the field to the Tennessee five. Once there, he tossed a touchdown pass to a wide open Verron Haynes—sealing the Georgia victory and ending the Neyland advantage.

Oct. 5, 2002—Tuscaloosa, Ala.

"Alabama is gonna line up and run the football and they're gonna play defense and I don't believe Georgia is man enough to beat that."

The above was a direct quote from former Auburn head coach Pat Dye when asked about the Dawgs' chances of winning against the Tide in Bryant-Denney Stadium back in 2002.

Dye's reason was simple and to the point: He surmised that even though the Dawgs had beaten both Clemson and South Carolina in close contests, those teams "ain't close to what Alabama is...'' and Georgia was going to have a hard time handling the Tide.

The Dawgs took offense to that statement, obviously, and the quote became bulletin board fodder for the team.

The game ended up being a nail-biter as David Greene threw two interceptions while Bama's run game struggled to find its footing against a tough Georgia defensive front.

A Fred Gibson miscue on a throw from David Greene shifted momentum to the Tide—giving them a 25-24 lead following a pick six.

The Dawgs regrouped and found a way to move the ball within field goal range, where Billy Bennett would seal the win with a 43-yard field goal.

Even though we were the higher-ranked team coming into this game (Alabama was ranked No. 22 by USA Today ), the odds were still stacked against us as we had not won a game in Tuscaloosa since 1982—again, not since Herschel Walker.

We were not supposed to win. We were not "man enough" to win. Yet we did win...where there's a will ...

Nov. 11, 2006—Auburn, Ala.
The Auburn Tigers were rolling in 2006. Despite an early loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Tigers were still in the national title hunt with a 10-1 record and a No. 5 ranking.
Georgia didn't look all that dangerous as they limped into Jordan-Hare sporting a 6-4 record, coming off back-to-back losses to Florida and Kentucky, respectively.
The Tigers were favored (+11), naturally, and were thought to be able to handle this little Georgia team with no problem.
Someone forgot to tell the Dawgs that as they proceeded to hand the Tigers their tails en route to a 37-15 victory—killing any shot Auburn still had at competing for a championship that season.
Georgia was leading 30-7 by halftime on a team that was ranked No. 4 in the nation in scoring defense—bulldozing the Tigers for more than 400 offensive yards.
Strangely enough, coach Richt had questioned how potent his game plan would be against Auburn—he didn't feel that it was going to give his freshman quarterback much confidence, calling it "awful".
He was wrong and his quarterback, Matthew Stafford, found a way to play his heart out against all likelihood. The young quarterback stepped up to the plate and delivered an outstanding performance, along with tailback Kregg Lumpkin, to lead the Dawgs to the win.
The Dawgs finished 9-4 on the season and would win a thriller against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl—another game in which they were not favored to win...but where there's a will ...

Final Thoughts
The Georgia Bulldogs aren't strangers to adversity. They have faced it on more than one occasion under coach Mark Richt and they have managed to come out fine most of the time.
Sure, this is Florida and we have a history of being on the losing end as of late and we look decidedly overmatched and painfully incapable of winning against them this time as well—no way a team as inconsistent and poorly performing as Georgia can beat a Florida team led by Tim Tebow!
No way can they stand tall against a Florida defense ranked No. 1 in the nation!
No way will they be able to keep up with a Florida offense that can beat you in so many ways!

This game may as well be a given because no one expects us to do anything more than show up and get our helmets handed to us.
To those people, there is only one thing to say: That is why we play the games.
On paper, Florida is better.
On paper, Florida is more skilled.
On paper, Florida has the better quarterback.
On paper, Florida has the best defense.
On paper, Florida is a 16-point favorite over a team that should be nothing more than a speed bump on their way to another national title.
Well, here's what I know:

The game is 60 minutes long.

There is one winner and one loser.

Sometimes the best team on the field, statistically, isn't the best team on the field that day.

It isn't always about the numbers.

The numbers are the measure everyone else uses to tell you "why" this team will win and "that" team won't—nothing more. Nothing less.

This is still Georgia and if you bleed, cry, and love the red and black, then you have to believe there is a chance that these Dawgs can win.

Forget the numbers.

Forget the cockiness of the Florida fans and followers.

Forget the talking heads and the media blitz.

Forget it all and focus on the only thing that truly matters: the players on the field.

Joe Cox, Caleb King, A.J. Green, Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins, Rennie Curran, Justin Houston, Clint Boling, Brandon Boykin, Branden Smith, Blair Walsh, Mike Moore, Drew Butler....those are our guys.

Our Dawgs!

I expect every last one of them to play their Bulldawg tails off on Saturday and I don't expect them to go in the losers that everyone else is calling for them to be.

Eschew the numbers and get amnesia where recent history is concerned—it's about who wants it more and proves that better.

So, this Saturday, in the face of what many see as insurmountable odds, remember these four words:

Where there's a will....

 

Cheer on and support the red and black for what they are...your team.

Go Dawgs! Go Dawgs! GATA! And Glory, Glory...


 

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