ATHENS — A handful of Georgia players were asked if South Carolina is a rivalry, and while they agreed it was, their answers were less than convincing.
If the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs could just fast-forward to the SEC Championship Game, they would.
But what Georgia coach Kirby Smart recognizes is that this season’s team must prove itself, new leaders must come forward, and here must emerge.
Saturday’s sold-out game at Williams-Brice Stadium is the 2018 Bulldogs’ audition to prove they are still national championship contenders, while South Carolina is looking for a breakthrough victory.
Still, with Georgia a prohibitive favorite, it’s easy to understand the question and perspective expressed in the DawgNation Forum in this week’s Ask Griff feature:
“Maybe I’m just completely biased, but I just do not understand why so many of the “experts” are even giving [South Carolina] a chance in this game. Does everyone on here think that most of them are making these predictions because they want to stir up interest in what could be an early season blood bath?
I know that they are mainly clickbait, but there is a guy from SDS who is practically saying that it won’t be an upset, but that [South Carolina] is actually better.
Are all of us completely blind in thinking that we SHOULD win this game by 14+? I know that I’m expecting 38-14 or so from the good guys.
Robbie, many in the media are making a big deal out of the game.
Even USA Today College Football writer Dan Wolken has taken to Twitter in agreement with you on that one
The hype for Georgia-South Carolina has a distinct whiff of the media talking itself into something
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) September 5, 2018
More proof of the hype machine comes from nationally respected Pro Football Focus College, which took the time to break down analytics from both teams’ blowout home openers.
A big-time SEC East battle is looming on the horizon.. Georgia and South Carolina meet in a pivotal Week 2 matchup.. Who takes it? pic.twitter.com/HY2TaINBS7
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 6, 2018
Here’s the deal: Georgia at South Carolina is one of only two games featuring two Top 25 teams this week (the other is USC at Stanford), and thus it has been slotted into the highest rated slot for national exposure by CBS.
So it’s not your imagination, there is some promotion at work here, and there will be national media in attendance.
The other hot game is Clemson at Texas A&M, but the Aggies are still a bit of a mystery and that game could end up being a blowout.
The Georgia-South Carolina game will also bring the SEC Network in tow, which means Paul Finebaum and his talented crew will be broadcasting from Columbia leading up to the event.
My thought is, enjoy your team’s opportunity to shine in the spotlight and prove itself on the national stage.
Georgia players will gain great confidence from going into this sort of environment provided the Bulldogs win.
The lessons from the trip to South Carolina will come into play in a couple of weeks when Georgia travels to the other SEC Columbia, in Missouri, to face quarterback Drew Lock and the Tigers.
The Bulldogs do have some questions to answer, and South Carolina does figure to be an improved team from last season, but the game has probably been overhyped.