Current state of rivalry borders on domination

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ATHENS, Ga. - They're gearing up for the annual "Border Bash" in Augusta on Friday near Georgia safety CJ Byrd's hometown.

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Junior defensive end Jeremy Lomax had one of Georgia's five sacks in a 35-14 victory Saturday.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Junior defensive end Jeremy Lomax had one of Georgia's five sacks in a 35-14 victory Saturday.

The Georgia and South Carolina cheerleaders are scheduled to appear. So are mascots Hairy Dawg and Cocky. The event draws thousands.

"They have a whole bunch of people there," said Byrd, a native of North Augusta. "A lot of Georgia fans. A lot of South Carolina fans. Just a whole bunch of people celebrating."

The postgame celebration has been one-sided in recent years after the Georgia-South Carolina tilt.

Georgia (1-0) heads into Saturday's Southeastern Conference opener looking to make it six in a row against the Gamecocks (1-0). The streak is the longest since Georgia won 10 consecutive matchups from 1966-77, but Byrd isn't chirping about the Bulldogs' recent run when he's back home.

"I don't like to say too much because I don't want anybody to come up to me and say 'We beat y'all,'" Byrd said. "I just keep quiet. That's what I play for. Just not to brag. We won, but I don't need to say anything."

Byrd says fans in Augusta are divided "half and half" between Georgia and South Carolina.

"It's a good mixture," Byrd said. "I used to spend a lot of time in Georgia, a lot of time in South Carolina. It's kind of even."

Georgia's roster has five South Carolina natives. South Carolina has 16 Georgia natives.

The players are cordial even though both teams are shooting for SEC East titles.

Georgia defensive end Marcus Howard hails from the South Carolina Low Country town of Huger.

He returned to his home state for the Gamecocks' Garnet & Black spring game April 14 and brought a bunch of teammates with him, including center Fernando Velasco, defensive tackle Kade Weston, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Bryan Evans.

"We were wearing regular street clothes, but they knew we were playing for Georgia," Howard said.

Howard says he's got a couple of "homeboys" on the South Carolina team, mentioning Jasper and Casper Brinkley, Cory Boyd and a few offensive linemen.

"We've been looking forward to this game since their spring game," Ellerbe said.

Howard had a sack in Georgia's win against Oklahoma State on Saturday and a 10-yard fumble return against the Gamecocks last year in the Bulldogs' 18-0 victory.

"I don't want to lose to them guys," said Howard, who was part of a defense that became just the second to shutout a Steve Spurrier-coached team.

Spurrier has mentioned on more than one occasion that the Gamecocks came close to getting on the scoreboard.

"We got on their 1-yard line twice, as you know, and tried to punch it in one time and couldn't do it and tried to throw it in the next time and couldn't do it," Spurrier said Sunday. "We had some chances last year that didn't work out."

South Carolina still finished 20th in the nation in total offense (395.0) and 44th in scoring (26.6).

Reach Marc Weiszer at marc.weiszer@onlineathens.com

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