Sunday, October 4, 2015

Georgia Can Still Do This: Weird Saturdays and Hope

It is an inevitability in college football that one or two Saturdays every season are going to produce a wave of results that tilt the sport completely on its ear.  You'll be watching the late games, innocently checking over the final scores from the day, and a whole bunch of them will just look plain wrong.  They'll make you talk like a little kid just learning to speak in complete  sentences, scrunching up your face because all those words put together that way taste funny.  (I'm honestly not sure "undefeated Iowa knocked off a ranked Wisconsin team in a rock fight" is grammatically correct English.  Seriously, can someone check the AP Style Guide and tell me if I'm even allowed to type that?)  But that happened.  So did a lot of other truly bizarre stuff.  Yesterday was weird.

It felt like it was going to be one of those days well before the noon games kicked off.  The rain that's been battering the eastern seaboard for the past week was going to play havoc with every game on or near the coast, and there was plenty of potential chaos lurking around the rest of the country. You could see it just waiting to burble up from the depths of bad bounces and listless play calling, flattening hapless teams without warning or provocation.  Even the survivors had to be shaking their heads yesterday, wondering what the actual fuck just happened.  Indiana and Purdue played #1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan State to within inches of their respective lives.  Clemson somehow avoided their essential Clemson-ness juuuuuust enough to beat Notre Dame in a hilarious display of soaking wet ineptitude by both teams.  Florida put an absolute whuppin' on what had heretofore looked like a pretty damn good Ole Miss team.  There was also the complete and abject disaster of Vols/Hogs, in which Arkansas technically won but everyone who had anything to do with that game in any capacity, particularly those whose job it was to tackle opposing players, lost.  Badly.  North Carolina beat Georgia Tech in something which was not a basketball game, and Duke squeaked out something which would presumably be classified as a "football-ish event" against BC.  FSU struggled with Wake Flippin' Forest.  And here I thought that UConn/Mizzou atrocity from two weeks ago was going to be the most ridiculous thing I watched all year.  Nope.  It was a strange, strange day yesterday.

And then (... sigh ...) there was what happened in Athens.

Here's the thing about Georgia football: when those Weird Saturdays of the season come calling, it is never, ever a good thing for the Dawgs.  Any UGA fan can tell you that in games where the capriciousness of fate is running rampant, it is inclined to blow up in Mark Richt's face.  And that was one howler of an example yesterday in Sanford Stadium.  Despite Nick Chubb continuing to be a ridiculous human being and putting up 146 yards and a touchdown on 'Bama's stellar front seven, cumulatively, Georgia simply couldn't do jack and/or squat on either side of the ball.  A (previously) very good defense proved utterly ineffectual against the Tide, and this is an Alabama team that still isn't sure who its best quarterback or wideout is.  Offensively, there just wasn't a solution to the fact that Greyson Lambert's gaudy numbers from the past few weeks couldn't be sustained against an actual team that can play actual defense.  Basically, we played like garbage.

I can tell you without bothering to verify it that the phone lines of every sports talk radio station in Georgia are being incinerated right now by people calling for Mark Richt's job.  I mean this in both the metaphorical and literal sense, as one in every three people who call radio stations re: beleaguered teams honestly believe that they themselves should be given the head coaching job in place of the actual head coach.  Ditto for AD Greg Mcgarity's inbox, which is undoubtedly being inundated with more of the same vitriol.  Personally, I think Richt has been a great head coach for this program, but the frustrations are understandable.  Another potential title contender of a team has been laid low because "dang it, Richt don't ever win the big games."

And yet.

If you squint very hard and tilt your head just so, it is possible to discern the faint shimmer of a silver lining buried behind yesterday's debacle. Setting aside the fatalism endemic to all Georgia fans (by which I mean both the university and the state's various professional and collegiate franchises in general), just indulge me in a hypothetical scenario for a moment ...

Let's say the Dawgs run the table for the rest of their schedule.  It looks reasonably doable, right?  A suddenly revitalized Florida team will very likely give us holy hell at the Cocktail Party, and I'm not ready to pencil in Mizzou and the Vols as obvious victories, because this is Georgia after all, but just pretend it happens.  They'd win the SEC East by virtue of that Florida game, and likely square off against 'Bama, LSU, or Ole Miss in the Georgia Dome for the SEC title.  Can they beat the Tide in a rematch in a meteorologically neutral environment?  Can they beat the Tigers or the Rebs?  Yes.  They can.  It's not necessarily likely, but you don't have to strain credulity all that much to envision it, either.  So: SEC Title, theoretically granted.

Which brings us to the next and most important question: would the Playoff Committee leave a one-loss Georgia team out of the postseason?  Maybe.  We could see an SEC-less playoff altogether, given the ouroboros the conference has become.  But if Georgia beats Florida, and you believe in the theory of transitive wins, then Georgia beat the team who beat Ole Miss, who beat Alabama, and here they are victorious despite what happened yesterday.  And if they can get into the four-team melee that determines the national champion, the Dawgs stand as good a chance as anyone of prevailing. 

All of this is, of course, extremely unlikely.  So many intricacies would have to shake out in precisely the right way and at the right time.  The teams who are currently at the apex of the sport would have to stumble, and Georgia would have to play spotless, sublime football for the remainder of the year to even have a chance.  But they could.  This could all still happen.  And in a year where the SEC is finally seeing its overall dominance approaching a shelf life, this may be the last, best, only shot for Georgia to poke its head above the fray and bring home the first national championship since before I was born.

And this is what we need for a start: we need another yesterday.  Not the outcome, but the circumstance.  We need the shakedown that topples monoliths and skews perceptions.  We need another Weird Saturday.  A day of chaos and stupid, stupid football that, just once, goes in Georgia's favor. 

No comments:

Post a Comment