We’ve been waiting and wondering all season how the Georgia Bulldogs would do against a really good team. And this Saturday, we’ll all find out.
It’s hard to believe a team with a 10-game winning streak still has a lot to prove. But Georgia has, in fact, had an easy schedule. There was no LSU, Alabama or Arkansas to play in the regular season, and that was not Georgia’s fault.
It’s not like the Bulldogs were going to call the SEC office back on Sept. 24 and say, “We really would prefer to go to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama instead of having to go to Oxford to play Mississippi.”
Yet there is no denying the easier schedule helped Georgia. The 10 teams the Bulldogs beat had a record of 56-63, a .471 winning percentage.
Just to compare, the winning percentage of the teams LSU beat was .577 (82-60). Alabama’s victims had a .531 (69-61) mark, while the teams defeated by South Carolina had a .517 (62-58) winning percentage.
That said Georgia is so much better this year that there’s really no comparison to last season. Remember last year? The Bulldogs lost to Colorado and Mississippi State and then were embarrassed by Central Florida in the bowl game.
Georgia might have to play a perfect game to beat LSU, and when a team is playing an elite team, it still may be tough to know how good it is. If LSU blows Georgia out, critics are going to say that Georgia wasn’t very good and just didn’t play anybody.
If Georgia wins, some might say that LSU was ignoring the game since it’s pretty clear right now LSU is going to have a rematch against Alabama in the national championship game regardless of what it does Saturday.
But we will probably have a pretty good idea of how Georgia matches up with a team that proved Friday against Arkansas just how dominant it is this season. And if Georgia is striving to get to the level of LSU and Alabama, we really need to see that.
Georgia’s defense should give it a shot against LSU. Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense is light years better than last year. Sure, Jordan Jefferson might have a field day on the Bulldogs’ defense, and the athletic LSU receivers might run right past the Georgia secondary. But this Georgia defense is better than what the Tigers saw Friday when they lined up against Arkansas.
The problem, and the worry for Georgia fans, is the running game. Will there even be a running game for the Bulldogs? It’s one thing to get by without Isaiah Crowell and Richard Samuel against Georgia Tech. But that won’t work against the defense LSU will take to Atlanta.
Even if Crowell and Samuel play, how good will they perform? They’ve been hurt, so to expect them to just waltz out on the Georgia Dome carpet and run past the LSU defense is a little much.
Turnovers will come into play, as well, and Georgia must win that battle. LSU loves to take advantage of an opponent’s mistakes, like most great teams do.
It’s hard to go into a game hoping to simply be competitive against a team. It’s not in most fans’ DNA to accept simply playing well, knowing their team is going to lose. But Georgia is playing against a team that might be one of the best we’ve seen in several years, so fans have to be realistic.
And again, considering how far Georgia has come this year and how far down it was a year ago, Georgia should be happy to go out and simply compete with LSU. The goal will be to win, but no one should be disappointed if Georgia simply hangs with LSU.
Georgia can prove a lot Saturday, and if LSU looks past this game, the Bulldogs might prove they are better than many people think. And that’s what will make a game that might be irrelevant in the national picture pretty important in these parts.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com.