Peach State Sports Blog

Rivalry game highlights opening weekend

One of the fan bases is going to be upset Saturday night after the Georgia-Clemson game, make no mistake about that.

One team has to lose, and fans don’t take kindly to losing a season opener, no matter how tough the opponent is. But in a big-picture-way of looking at things, the fans shouldn’t be too upset Saturday night, no matter what happens.

A loss is a loss, and it is tough overcome losing the opener, but one game won’t make or break the season for either one of these teams. The winner will have many tough games left on the schedule, and the loser will have plenty of time to make up for dropping the first game.

In short, it’s a long season, and these teams should be commended for playing this kind of game to open the season.

Instead of easing into the year with winnable games, or even laughers, as many teams do, the Tigers and Bulldogs will jump right into the fray, and that’s exciting to see. It was intriguing last year when Clemson and Georgia faced off and the Tigers pulled out a thrilling three-point win.

That game put the national spotlight on both programs, and Saturday’s game will do the same with two top-20 teams meeting up at Sanford Stadium.

There are other strong games Saturday, as well, with Florida State facing off with Oklahoma State and LSU taking on Wisconsin in the day’s other highlight games. With so many bad matchups and unwatchable games in the first weekend, those few good ones will get most of the attention, and they should.

That includes Georgia-Clemson, which we don’t get enough of, to be honest. The Bulldogs have dominated this rivalry through the years, except for a short break in the 1980s when the teams played to a standstill with memorable games every year. With larger conferences these days, however, the two programs don’t play as often, and that’s unfortunate. So we have to enjoy it when they actually do get to play.

The game last year lived up to the pregame hype, and this year’s likely will, too.

Both teams were ranked in the top 10 last season with standout senior quarterbacks and plenty of offensive weapons. On Saturday, both teams will start senior quarterbacks again, although with much less experience, along with some dynamic offensive weapons (Todd Gurley for Georgia and some new faces for Clemson). Also, the defenses should be much better, especially up front, and maybe we won’t see quite the offensive shootout we enjoyed last year.

Kicking off the season with this kind of game, especially a rivalry, takes the normal excitement level getting into the college football campaign to another level.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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