For the first time since 1990, before current Georgia head coach Kirby Smart had even played for the Bulldogs, the Georgia Bulldogs will not be playing in-state rival Georgia Tech on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
“Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” as the rivalry is called won’t be played at all this year due to COVID-19, as the SEC elected to not play any non-conference games. In addition to the two in-state rivals not playing on Thanksgiving weekend this year, it will be the first time since 1924 that the two sides don’t play at all.
Last year’s game against Georgia Tech was particularly intense due to a third quarter fight in which Georgia wide receiver George Pickens was ejected and thus suspended for the first half of the SEC championship game. But the game hasn’t been all the competitive on the scoreboard in recent seasons, as the Bulldogs have won the last three meetings by a score of 135-35.
“It’s weird. It’s one of our biggest rivals,” Georgia tight end John FitzPatrick said. “But obviously and most importantly, the next game, which is South Carolina, is the most important game. And that’s where our focus lies.”
Instead of Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs will be taking on South Carolina. Some consider the Gamecocks a rival due in large part to their proximity, but South Carolina is not seen on the same tier as say Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech.
But this South Carolina team did beat the Bulldogs last season, in Athens no less. Then quarterback Jake Fromm was intercepted three times and kicker Rodrigo Blankenship went on to miss two field goals in a 20-17 double-overtime loss.
Georgia safety Lewis Cine clarified this week though that the Bulldogs wouldn’t be looking for revenge after South Carolina tore up the Sanford Stadium Hedges last year after the victory.
“I wouldn’t use the word revenge but I would say redemption of course,” Cine said. “Our goal is to, of course, win but play to our standard and that’s what we’re planning on doing.”
It’s also worth adding here that Georgia will be seeing a familiar face stocking the South Carolina sidelines. Former Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is South Carolina’s interim head coach after the school parted ways with Will Muschamp earlier in the season.
Bobo worked as an assistant coach at Georgia from 2001-14 before leaving to be the head coach at Colorado State. He returned to the SEC this offseason to serve as the offensive coordinator. In addition to his time as a coach at Georgia, he played for the Bulldogs from 1993-97.
He was also a roommate of Smart’s when they were in college.
“We lived together in college and really grew up not far apart,” Smart said. “I know Mike well. I have always been close to him throughout the profession. We’ve worked together a couple of times, and have always remained close. Our immediate families, our kids are friends.
Smart added that the two haven’t talked much this week with the difficulties of playing around Thanksgiving and in the middle of a pandemic. The two have been asked to share stories of either past practice battles or golf outings, with neither being all that revealing.
There won’t be the same level of hate surrounding Georgia’s game following the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s due in part to both the change in opponent, as well as the fact that Smart is coaching against a long-time friend.
The Bulldogs and Gamecocks will kick off at 7:30 p.m ET on the SEC Network. Georgia Tech, for those curious, will play Duke this weekend.
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