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Why Georgia football is more likely to do more future battles with Clemson than Alabama
For much of the past 10 years, Georgia football has been defined on a national level by how it fared against Alabama.
For all the success and inroads the program has made in that time, it seems like every time Georgia has been ready to break through, Alabama has been there to snuff out those hopes. It happened in 2012, then again in 2017 and once more in 2018.
Those were the three seasons this past decade where Georgia was best positioned to win a national title. And each time, Alabama showed the Bulldogs weren’t quite ready.
There are obvious ties between the two programs, from Kirby Smart and his relationship to Nick Saban to how Georgia has been modeled to run in a similar manner to the Crimson Tide. The two sides are set to meet once again on Sept. 19, and it figures to be one of the biggest games of the college football season.
But the days of Alabama defining Georgia’s place among the national elite might be getting taken by another team: Clemson.
For one, Georgia is actually set to play Clemson more times over the next decade than Alabama. Georgia has scheduled games against Clemson set for 2021,2024, 2029 and 2030. Other than the 2020 matchup, Georgia is next set to play Alabama sometime after the 2025 season, when the SEC conference schedule is reset. With Georgia only playing one non-Auburn SEC West team a season, it will be a while before the two sides would meet again.
Alabama could go on to meet Georgia in the SEC championship game, but Ed Orgeron and Gus Malzahn showed last year that Alabama can’t pencil itself into Atlanta every year — and Georgia can’t either for that matter.
There’s also the fact that Nick Saban seems to be on the final stretch of his career. It’s unfair to speculate when Saban might finally decide to stop coaching, but it’s hard to envision him still running the Alabama program in 2030 at the age of 78.
Now, critics can point out that expecting both Smart and Swinney to still be at their two programs 10 years from might be unreasonable. But if you were betting, it certainly seems like a better idea to expect the latter two to still be at Georgia and Clemson rather than Saban is at Alabama.
Georgia and Clemson do have a history with each other, but the two sides haven’t met since 2014. Smart has yet to match-up head-to-head against Swinney as a head coach. The two did match wits in Smart’s final game as Alabama’s defensive coordinator in the 2016 National Championship Game. Alabama won that game, but Clemson put up 40 points.
While the two teams have not yet met on the field, they’ve run into each other quite often on the recruiting trail. Georgia and Clemson are now two of the top recruiting programs in the country, with Clemson landing 5-star running back Will Shipley this week. The Tigers also have a strong track record of recruiting the metro Atlanta area, pulling 5-star prospects like Myles Murphy and Andrew Booth out of the state in recent cycles.
And in recent weeks, it seems like Smart fired a shot at Swinney and Clemson when it comes to their recruiting tactics.
“You probably would believe it but you wouldn’t believe what some coaches outside our conference tell kids,” Smart told ESPN’s Paul Finebaum. “They’ll sell to a kid that it’s better to not go to the SEC because it’s too tough.”
“It’s too competitive, too physical, you might get banged up, you might not have the career there you’d have somewhere else.”
Finebaum went on to later say he believed those comments were in fact aimed at Swinney. When you factor in how bad the ACC has been in recent seasons, it’s not all that difficult to read between the lines of Smart’s comments.
At the moment, Georgia has the No. 17 recruiting class in the country. Clemson sits at No. 4. Alabama is at No. 57 at the moment. Recruiting is extremely fluid, but recruits always seem to snuff these kinds of things out first.
Alabama clearly has been a major problem for the Bulldogs over the years, much like how the Avon Barksdale was for the Baltimore Police Department in The Wire. But even if Georgia is able to take down Alabama, and finally conqueror that long-time foe, there’s still an equally formidable foe in Clemson looming, much like how Marlo Stanfield was in The Wire.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
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- Georgia CB Tyson Campbell early pick in pair of 2021 NFL mock drafts
- The 2020 Georgia football freshman that could have an Andrew Thomas-type impact
- Georgia football recruiting: Linebacker is Bulldogs’ most important 2021 position
- BEFORE THE HEDGES: NFL Draft highlights future value for 5-star UGA target James Williams
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Good luck to all the Dawgs out there on their last day of exams, finish the semester off strong!
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