Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

No rivalry in area tops Bulldogs vs. Gamecocks

  • Follow College

ATHENS, Ga. --- Ten years of regional experience has shown it's likely the following declaration will universally criticized, but here it comes anyway.

Georgia vs. South Carolina is the best rivalry game in these parts.

Not the most passionate. Not the one that will cause a year of sleepless nights to the losing side. Not the one fans would trade 11 other losses just to have this one victory to cherish for 12 months at the water cooler.

It is simply the best rivalry game year in and year out, hands down.

Georgia-Florida? Please.

Georgia-Georgia Tech? Hit or miss.

South Carolina-Clemson? Mostly miss.

You can't swing Uga's leash without hitting a Bulldog rival, so there are a lot of options to choose from. Speaking from a completely non-partisan perspective, Bulldogs vs. Gamecocks is the one rivalry game that annually delivers more than any other. And coming regularly as it does at the top of the order in the Southeastern Conference, the game always seems to measure up to the stakes.

No reason to expect differently on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"I would have to imagine another knockdown dragout in Columbia," said Georgia coach Mark Richt.

Of course he would imagine that. That's been the reality ever since Richt arrived in Athens 10 years ago. Don't let the 7-2 record he holds against the Gamecocks fool you.

Only twice since 2001 has a Georgia-South Carolina game been decided by more than one touchdown. More often than not, the winners and losers walk away knowing full well it could have (and sometimes should have) been the other way around.

Take last year, when a missed extra point conspired to force the Gamecocks into a failed fourth-down play on the Georgia doorstep in the closing seconds.

The last time Georgia visited Williams-Brice, the Bulldogs needed two red-zone turnovers in the final quarter to preserve a 14-7 win.

How about 2007, when the Bulldogs failed to puncture the end zone and were left to suffer the consequences of a 16-12 defeat that ultimately cost them a national championship shot (they finished the season No. 3).

Two failed conversion attempts doomed the Gamecocks 17-15 in Spurrier's much-anticipated return to Sanford Stadium in 2005.

Georgia rallied from a 16-point deficit and needed two late turnovers to sneak out of Columbia with a 20-16 win in 2004.

South Carolina welcomed the Richt era with a late Phil Petty touchdown pass and a 14-9 win in 2001.

Most memorably, there was the epic David Pollack game in 2002, when the previously unheralded defensive lineman stole a touchdown out of the quarterback's arms in the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs held on by recovering a fumbled pitch near the Georgia goal-line in the closing seconds.

Something clutch always seems to define this game more often than any other.

"It comes down to the wire," said Richt. "I think there were two times where there was a little bit of separation, but every other game it seems like it's within seven points and usually down to last second where somebody has to do something heroic. I remember when (David) Pollack had a couple of heroic plays to win the first time that I was there. ... We've had some last second plays that have been the difference in winning and losing."

Sadly for South Carolina, those key plays have tended to conspire against them more often than not. Spurrier -- who calls Georgia "probably our biggest rival, especially in the SEC East" -- doesn't care to grouse about cursed fate.

"Prior games have no bearing on this one," he said.

This game, however, has a lot of bearing on the rest of the season.

Both teams are ranked near the tail end of the top 25 poll after impressive 2010 debuts against lesser opponents stoked the enthusiasm in both camps. Saturday's matchup looms even larger after presumptive SEC East favorite Florida looked underwhelming in its own opener.

"Definitely this year is more wide open and we need to take care of business to get to Atlanta," said Georgia kicker Blair Walsh of the conference championship game.

That notion gets no argument from Spurrier.

"It's a crucial game because it's within our eastern division," he said. " If you have hopes of winning the division, you have to beat divisional teams. This is one of those games."

That's why this game is so consistently inspiring. It comes at a time when both teams are fresh and healthy and have everything still to play for.

It might not get the respect on the hierarchy of Georgia's rivals or invite the venom of an in-state opponent, but this border war is always the linchpin to a season's success or failure.

No doubt, Saturday will deliver the drama as usual. No other regional showdown can offer the same degree of certainty.

Saturday's games

- Georgia Tech at Kansas, Noon (Fox Sports South)

- Presbyterian at Clemson, 3:30 p.m. (No TV)

- Georgia Southern at Navy, 3:30 (CBS College Sports)

SEC Showdown

WHO: No. 22 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina

WHEN: Noon Saturday

TV: ESPN2

WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia

Comments (10) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
justthefacts
21342
Points
justthefacts 09/10/10 - 07:32 am
0
0
Much more of a rivalry game

Much more of a rivalry game from USC's prospective. There are probably 30 players from Ga on USC's team that the Dawgs didn't recruit. So, it's always payback for them. That probably explains the closeness of the games. UGA has stronger rivalries with TN, Auburn, UF, and, of course, Tech. USC has Clemson.

apex24
0
Points
apex24 09/10/10 - 08:01 am
0
0
It's always a rivalry because

It's always a rivalry because of the mouthy arrogance of Georgia fans. We now have all these vehicles in South Carolina with the big G's on the front tag. I think one of the reasons for the smart mouths is these young loud mouths who are all of a sudden Ga. fans. Sat. afternoon about 4:00pm all these Ga. fans will be riding back down I-20 all mad and ready to fire Mark Richt because of the loss in Columbia.

pighead
0
Points
pighead 09/10/10 - 08:05 am
0
0
Gamecocks seem to be in awe

Gamecocks seem to be in awe of other SEC teams, thats why they sturggle with them, but not UGA. Even the USC fans feel their program is on even ground with the dogs. The dog fans think their program rivals those of FLorida and Bama and we know thats not true.

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 09/10/10 - 08:23 am
0
0
It doesn't matter how close

It doesn't matter how close the games are as long as you win, and that's what UGA has done. Mark Richt is 7-2 against the Shamecocks. That's the bottom line. The Shamecocks always find a way to lose and tomorrow will be no different. Dawgs 49, Shamecocks 10, and a bunch of angry Chicken fans leaving the stadum in the fourth quarter.

willienelson
5
Points
willienelson 09/10/10 - 09:29 am
0
0
Wow, Apex...ever hear monkey

Wow, Apex...ever hear monkey see, monkey do? I'm guessing you must be an avid DAWG fan by your description.

willienelson
5
Points
willienelson 09/10/10 - 09:34 am
0
0
I love my DAWGS!!! Looking

I love my DAWGS!!! Looking forward to a great game tomorrow. Although I've been a DAWG fan all my life, I pull hard for the GameCocks most weeks. I expecting this year to be another close game. SC is building depth at skilled positions, has some great athletes on the field and of course, Spurrier just seems to have our number. I'm hoping we sneak out with another last minute win but this one, much like Apex, could truly go either way. GO DAWGS!!!

georgiadawg1
1
Points
georgiadawg1 09/10/10 - 10:29 am
0
0
pighead, said: "Gamecocks

pighead, said:

"Gamecocks seem to be in awe of other SEC teams, thats why they sturggle with them, but not UGA. Even the USC fans feel their program is on even ground with the dogs. The dog fans think their program rivals those of FLorida and Bama and we know thats not true."

Pighead, we might not be a BAMA or Florida but we for sure are light years ahead of USC's program. The #'s don't lie. UGA is 91-27 since Richt took over in '01. Have won 2 SEC Championships and played for another. They are 2-1 in BCS games and are 7-2 in their bowl games in the last 9 seasons. To compare USC, they are 61-50 overall in that time frame with O SEC Championships and have not even made the game one time. They also have played in 0 BCS games, and are 2-3 overall in bowl games during the last 9 seasons. Furthermore, UGA is 12-4 against USC in the last 16 games. All this goes to say that Cocky fans must be completely delusional if they think that their program is on the same level as Georgia's. I will also say that UGA is not one of Florida's biggest rivals because, just like USC against UGA, we can only win about once every 5 or 6 years. USC is more like a bratty little brother that losses 9 out of 10 times against his older brother but every time he happens to pull it all together and win he talks like he is the king of the world. We will let the stats speak for themself.

wlightnin42
0
Points
wlightnin42 09/10/10 - 10:45 am
0
0
Gonna be pickin Chickin from

Gonna be pickin Chickin from my teeth Saturday. Go Dawgs

sml1977
0
Points
sml1977 09/10/10 - 03:04 pm
0
0
georgiadawg1 says it all.

georgiadawg1 says it all. Thank you.

Quack Quack Quack
0
Points
Quack Quack Quack 09/10/10 - 06:55 pm
0
0
GO GATORS!!!

GO GATORS!!!

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs