Friday, August 31, 2007

Dawgs vs. Cowpokes 'Tween the Hedges, Plus Predictions

It's time! It's time! Every August goes by so slowly, as if it knows that it's about to yield to the very best time of year. I know we have another month of summer. But when fall collides with college football, it just doesn't get any better than that. Especially if you're a University of Georgia fan. There is no more beautiful campus during the fall than the UGA campus in Athens. And when the red n' black assemble, there is no greater spectacle than to stand from Sanford Bridge and peer down onto the lush emerald green grass and let your eyes wander through 93,000 of your closest friends.

When the 2000 Sudler Trophy winning Redcoat Band takes the field and plays the "Battle Hymn," "Hail to Georgia," and "Glory, Glory," my heart will be pumping! Hopefully the Dawgs can take advantage of a late season surge that saw UGA become the only team in the country to defeat 3 consecutive ranked teams: Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech to finish 9-4. UGA remains one of the top 8 winningest programs in the country this decade.

The 2007 season brings us a new opponent right away. The Big 12's Oklahoma State Cowboys venture into SEC country to take on the Dawgs. UGA will return the favor in Stillwater, OK in 2009. However, this isn't our first meeting. UGA defeated the Cowboys in Athens, and then again in Stillwater back in the 1940's. But what happened 60 years ago will have very little to do with what happens on Saturday. OSU defeated Nebraska last year and gave their archrivals, the Sooners, a scare. Then they went to the Independence Bowl and defeated Alabama in a shootout. So we know these boys can play.

As usual, many of the national know-it-alls have predicted OSU to win in an upset. Much like they did against Clemson in 2003 (UGA 30 Clemson 0), South Carolina in 2004 (UGA 20 SC 16), and Boise State in 2005 (UGA 48 BSU 13). I'd say Richt's Dawgs enjoy proving the "experts" wrong.

Assorted rivals have been telling me all summer that UGA is going to start the year 0-2. Not an intelligent bunch, I know. But consider the schools involved. Almost all of them wear the unmanly color of orange. And, of course, the Gamecocks think UGA has lost too much for us to beat them. But that's what they say every August. How many years have we beaten them in a row now? 5? Who knows? Maybe this year will be their time to crow.

In other words, all they naysayers are the same cast of characters that have predicted UGA to falter every year since 2002. Oh well, I suppose if you keep predicting it every year, you'll get your wish someday. :-)

UGA, with all of its youth, needs to just weather the storm against Oklahoma State and South Carolina in the first 2 weeks. It doesn't have to be impressive, and doesn't have to be pretty. We just need to win those 2 games. By the time the Dawgs head into Tuscaloosa to take on the Tide in late September, we should be in better shape.

I think we'll have to win it in a shootout with the Cowboys as the young guys on defense get adjusted to their roles. So I'll go with UGA 34 OSU 24.



Here's a few 2007 season predictions:

The FSU/Clemson game could go either way Monday night. But even though they're both in the same ACC division, I don't think the winner of the game will automatically win it. Look for the Noles to improve with big time additions to their coaching staff. They still have Weatherford as the QB, which I don't know if that's a good thing. But the bottom line is the OL has to be able to block better. And they need to be able to run the ball to ease the pressure on whoever the QB is. I think we'll see them start to look like the FSU of old this year.

But I like Clemson (one of my favorite places to tailgate) to win the game. They're tough at "Death Valley" and have had a lot of recent success against the Noles. Their problem is that they can't finish a season the way they start it. Or at least that's the book on Clemson in recent years. I'll guess that Clemson will win the game, but the Noles will win the war.

Look out for Tech - yes, that's Georgia Tech - in the other division of the ACC. Our rivals don't get enough respect. Tenuta's defense is always good. And now the Tech offense has a QB capable of being a leader. Add that to RB Choice and the Tech offense could be dangerous. With that being said, look for Virginia Tech to avenge themselves vs. the Jackets and win the division. VT should win the whole conference. But if it's the Noles they're facing in Jacksonville, they seem to have a mental block against the team from Tallahassee.

Even though LSU struggled on offense a bit last night, VT will lose in Baton Rouge next week. And that will put LSU in the perfect position to earn a spot in the BCS national title game in January. That is, if they don't stumble somewhere. You never know in the SEC. And now that Saban is hanging his hat in Tuscaloosa, LSU vs. Alabama has taken on a whole new level of intensity. The Tigers are the SEC west favorite and I do think they'll hold off Bama and Auburn to win it.

The east is not so easy to predict. The big 3 - Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee all have some major question marks on defense. UGA has the added problem of an almost entirely new OL. Meanwhile, Florida has to hope that Tim Tebow can live up to all of the hype. But, lucky for him, he has all kinds of talent on offense around him. And finally, the Vols have the advantage of sporting a senior QB. As we've seen in the past, OC Cutcliffe can do wonders with QB's. But the question is can Ainge stay healthy? On the eve of the Vols' battle with Cal this Saturday, the main storyline is that Ainge is, once again, injured. With him, I think the Vols will win the east almost by leadership default. But without him, they'll fall apart as they did late last year. That could open the door for UGA, provided we restore order in Jacksonville. I know, I know..........Whoever wins the east, I don't like their chances vs. LSU. I'll go with the Ti-gaaahs as the SEC champs.

Other champs:

Big 10: Michigan
Big East: West Virginia
Big 12: Oklahoma
Pac 10: USC

BCS Title Game: USC vs. LSU

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