It is easy to imagine that on Saturday night Athens felt something like a third-world country after a dictator is overthrown. Except in UGA’s case it was not a political despot that was defeated, but a football villain that was vanquished. Yet the feeling of sudden freedom that overtook the Classic City was probably no less real.
Steve Spurrier is no longer a threat to the Dawgs. That should be abundantly clear after UGA paid him back Saturday night for all the humiliation he had inflicted on this program for the last few decades. All the times he sought to run up the score at an overmatched UGA team’s expense, including putting up 52 points in Sanford Stadium twenty years ago made the lopsided score of this year’s game against South Carolina feel like redemptive justice — like an ugly statue toppled once and for all.
It is an outcome that many assumed was impossible. For some, The Head Ball Coach was the guy who would go on haunting the dreams of DawgNation until he got bored with it. Now he’s just some relic that can only be spoken about in the past tense.
Mark Richt’s team on the other hand is very much a program to be discussed in the present tense, and now that they have punched back against their longtime bully it is worth asking a simple question. What else is possible?
The most optimistic answer is also the most logical: UGA should now set its sights on making the College Football Playoff and playing for a national championship. After all, the path to such a lofty goal will rarely seem more clearly paved and as easily traveled as it does right now.
Just look at what lies ahead for the Dawgs. Back during the preseason it was assumed the toughest tests for UGA would be the Alabama game, the Tennessee game in Knoxville, and the road games against Auburn and Georgia Tech. Over the last two weeks there has been plenty of evidence produced to suggest that none of those games are as tough as they originally seemed they would be.
As predicted last week on the DawgNation Daily podcast, Georgia Tech was totally overwhelmed Saturday by Notre Dame. The final score was misleading. The Irish simply had too much talent. In November against UGA, the same is likely to be true for the Jackets.
Furthermore, those that picked Auburn to win anything in 2015 owe all of America an apology at the moment, and Tennessee is seemingly coming undone by a combination of freak injuries and curious coaching decisions by Butch Jones.
Of course, that still leaves the big showdown for UGA against Alabama on Oct. 3. But even this has become a game that Dawg fans should be a lot more confident about winning now that Nick Saban’s team proved against Ole Miss they are nowhere near the same team that won the SEC a year ago.
The cynic says that nothing in college football is guaranteed. He reminds us that anything can go wrong, and with teams coached by Richt … it usually does. But that kind of disbelief seems out of fashion this week. That was the old UGA, the one that could not easily beat Spurrier no matter how sad the state of his South Carolina program had become.
This is the new UGA, and for this current crop of Bulldogs, a season that started with skepticism should end in celebration.
Brandon Adams is the host of DawgNation Daily.
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