The Georgia football program is in an unfamiliar place. Ranked No. 1 in the nation, ESPN College GameDay coming to Athens for the second time in a season, and about to meet up with an undefeated and top 15…Kentucky?
Yes, that Kentucky. That basketball school that Georgia has pushed around on the gridiron since 1939. Those Wildcats who the Dawgs have won eleven straight games against. The team that Georgia fans regularly laugh away as evidenced by the 60-12-2 UGA lead in the overall series.
But this is not your dad’s Kentucky, or your grandad’s. In fact, this is a Kentucky who most living Georgia fans have probably never seen before. This is a scrappy, hungry, upstart team who has already taken down the Bulldogs’ biggest rival, Florida.
They’re good. Damn good.
Searching through the interwebs and Twitterverse, it’s easy to spot Georgia fans quickly dismissing Kentucky as yet another highly-ranked but easily beatable opponent for the 2021 Bulldogs. The chest-thumping and proclamations of “ain’t scoring on our defense” are the preeminent verse.
The bettors and oddsmakers seem to agree. They have Georgia favored by an unbelievable 21 points. That’s a pretty wide gap when you consider this is No. 1 vs No. 11.
Listen up, Bulldog Nation. Dismissing or overlooking this Kentucky team is a mistake. It’s a mistake that could bruise a lot of egos for fans, and a mistake that could wreck a season for the Bulldogs if they fall into that trap.
Don’t do it. Don’t fall into that trap.
Georgia football can be more than elite
This is a good UK team. A very good team. Stoops has slowly been building this program and they’re starting to believe in themselves. They all truly believe they deserve this No. 11 ranking and more.
More importantly, this game — this unprecedented game against Georgia — IS their season. A win over the No. 1 team in the nation would be their validation. It would mean everything to them and potentially propel them into the SEC Championship Game for the first time in program history.
A Kentucky loss? They’re still in the thick of it. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The pressure is all on Georgia. It’s gut-check time for the Dawgs, a team who also has a belief. A belief that they are what everyone says they are. A belief that they have finally assembled a team, coaching staff, and fanbase that makes them…
That word has been thrown around a lot this season. First uttered by Kirby Smart after the opening week win against Clemson. The media and fans have clung to it as if it were prophecy.
Here’s the thing — the question isn’t whether or not Georgia is elite. They are. The question is, can they overcome the label of “oh so close” and notch one more victory on their way to becoming a step beyond elite – becoming historic.
In 1980, Herschel Walker was elite. The Bulldogs were historic. They need to be again.