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Texas A&M 13, UGA 19

I didn't take that picture. That was broadcast by CBS, which is how I saw the game between Texas A&M and Georgia (final: Texas A&M 13, UGA 19). I post it only to remind myself of what I missed. What a great sunset!

I had a real debate with myself whether or not to attend today's game. The final decision came down to the (accurate) forecast of heavy rain. I went to the Kentucky game last month and was generally miserable. I ended up wet, cold, and bored by the lousy game quality. That wasn't an experience I was interested in having twice in the same season.

Now that the home schedule is over, I'd like to make note of two disappointing trends from the 2019 season:

  1. 1. Why is it getting so hard to get people to go to the games? Even putting aside the two rainouts, I had a hard time enticing anyone to come with me, and the seats around me were empty most of the time. Assuming this isn't purely a side effect of my own anti-social tendencies, is this a problem with the current state of Georgia football (which seems to win in spite of their anemic offense) or a symptom of some larger trend?
  2. What happened to bands at halftime? The only band marching in Athens in 2019 was the Redcoats. Was this a fluke in the schedule that no team playing in Athens this year had a traveling marching band, or are marching bands at football games becoming as archaic as the fewer and fewer fans attending them?

Maybe we'll get answers to these questions next year.

Meanwhile, good luck against Tech and in the SEC Championship, Dogs. I assure you I'll be rooting for you on the couch.

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Only one team showed up to play in the annual Georgia/Missouri game. Luckily for Georgia fans, it was Georgia. Final score: Missouri 0, Georgia 27.

Missouri 0, UGA 27

Above see the blue lights rolled out for the Veteran's Day ceremony at halftime. You know, this was the sixth home game of the 2019 season and I have yet to see an opponent's band on the field. Do schools not have bands anymore?

My guest for the evening game was Friend James (aka the man who paid me to make this), who had never attended a football game before. I spent most of the game explaining it, which was fine. With only one team on the field, there wasn't that much to see.

Not that I'm complaining about the Bulldogs pitching a shut out, mind you. It was just cold — very cold — and it would have been nice to have something to jump up and down about.

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The forecast was 57° and rain. I asked Mom, and she declined to attend. I asked seven more people, and they all had better things to do. I went alone. I should have listened to what they were trying to tell me.

As forecast, the game was very cold, and very wet. So wet, in fact, that the Athletic Department decided not to allow any bands on the field, which made for a very unusual pre-game with no band welcoming the players onto the field and an equally odd Homecoming halftime, where the homecoming court was seen only on the video board in still photographs (taken on a sunnier day).

Kentucky 0, UGA 21

The football was as bad as the weather. There were 10 punts in the first half alone. (Six of those drives were 3-and-outs.) Georgia's strategy appeared to be "wait until Kentucky makes a mistake." It did work eventually when Kentucky badly shanked a punt and allowed Georgia to score on the following play. Congratulations, Georgia, but don't expect that plan to work in two weeks against Florida.

I was not prepared for the amount of rain. I lasted only slightly longer than Kentucky did. I left in the fourth quarter after Georgia finally shut the door, making a goal line stand to break Kentucky's spirit. I paused on my way back to the car to take one last look back just as Georgia scored their third touchdown. Final score: Kentucky 0, UGA 21.

It. Never. Stopped. Raining.

Like I said, cold and wet.

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The first evidence I saw that things were going to go poorly was at the start of the game when the three guys sitting behind me correctly predicted Georgia's playcalling on the first three downs. And they didn't just call runs and passes. They accurately predicted blocking assignments and routes. If the guys in the stands can do it, it should come as no surprise that the opposing coaches can do it, too. And they did. (Although, how hard is it to predict "run up the middle, run up the middle, pass to the outside" when it is repeated for 4 quarters and two overtimes of play?)

South Carolina 20, UGA 17

The picture above is of the South Carolina players celebrating at midfield and tearing branches off the famed hedges after their win. Some Georgia fans were up and arms about this, but that's what underdog visiting teams do when they beat #3 ranked Georgia. Or, as in this case, #3 ranked Georgia beat itself.

There was a lot of blame to go around in this 20-17 loss in double overtime, but quarterback Jake Fromm does deserve special mention in no small part because he's typically been so good. He played so badly today — missing open receivers, throwing three interceptions, and fumbling once — I have to wonder what recently went wrong in his life. Dumped by his girlfriend? Dead dog? Payoff? Did no one tell Jake the cautionary tale of Quincy Carter? Bad games against South Carolina can ruin promising careers, Jake.

Oh well. Better luck next week, Dawgs.

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Nothing was usual when Notre Dame came to Athens.

Notre Dame 17, UGA 23

What you see above is the new LED lighting installed in Sanford Stadium earlier this year. Those of you who see a lot of live sports may be familiar with the old metal halide lights that warm up slowly. These are not those. Quick on and color changing, the new lights made for some very impressive stadium effects during the big game, including the red out at the start of the fourth quarter. Nice addition, Georgia.

It didn't take red lights to notice the difference between Notre Dame and a "regular" game. Despite adding extra seats to the stadium for this meeting of top ten teams, Athens was still expecting 50,000 people without tickets, and they arrived early and took all the parking places. We had a flyover of F15s and about two dozen returning Dawg football stars on the sideline (including David Pollack, Champ & Boss Bailey, and Knowshon Moreno, just to name a few). When kickoff finally arrived, the atmosphere was truly electric.

Speaking of the crowd, although ticket costs had bloated from their $75 cover price to a rumored $600 and up on the secondary market, it didn't keep the drunks out. Nor did it keep them in their seats. For reasons that remain unclear to me — credit my naturally welcoming personality, perhaps — Mom and I had plenty of elbow room in an otherwise packed stadium when the couples to our left and right simply disappeared at halftime. That gave us plenty of space to bite our nails when Notre Dame made their late comeback attempt.

Final score: #7 Notre Dame 17, #3 UGA 23. Great football game. It just might have been worth $600.

Footnote: During the pregame, all ten Ugas were showcased on the big board. However, instead of being presented chronologically, they were ordered alphabetically by Roman numeral: I, II, III, IV, IX, V, VI, VII, VIII, X. That probably says terrible things about a Georgia education, but at least the football team is good.

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A 7:08 PM kickoff on Saturday meant that I didn't get back home until just before 2 AM Sunday, but it was worth it to see UGA beat down Auburn 27-10.

Auburn 10, UGA 27

What I will remember most about this game, aside from the drunk girl to my left who couldn't quite grasp the concept of "personal space," is the cold. It may not be the coldest Georgia game I've ever attended (that would be a Tech game almost a decade ago), but it was pretty darn close. According to the television in the student center, it was 38° at the final whistle.

My usual Auburn-game companion, Friend Randy, didn't think he was going to need anything more than a light jacket. He never did get the hang of the knit cap I let him borrow, but I note he never took it off, either. (You're welcome, Randy.)

As for the football itself, it seems that every year in the annual UGA/Auburn contest, one team out thinks itself. This year, that team was Georgia. UGA tried its best to pretend that it isn't a run-first, second, and third offense in an attempt to beat trick play-happy Auburn head coach Gus Malzhan at his own game. (Blankenship's failed fake field goal springs to mind.) Fortunately, great defense won out. Next year, let's keep it simple, okay, Dawgs?

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The first night game of the season meant the return of the cell phone lights to Athens!

Vanderbilt 13, UGA 41

Ok, so they're not really visible in that pic, but trust me, it's cool. In fact, the only reason Sanford Stadium was that full at the start of the 4th quarter (score at the time: Vanderbilt 6, UGA 38) was because the homecoming crowd was waiting to play with their flashlights. It was worth it.

As for the football game itself: Vanderbilt was who we thought they were, and UGA started its season 6-0 for the second straight year — for the first time ever! National title, here we come (he says, tongue only partly in cheek).

The next home game isn't until November. I have my fingers crossed that by then, the temperature will finally fall below 80° during a game. While I like my Georgia football team hot, I prefer my Georgia football weather mild. And yes, I believe that I *can* have it all.

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UGA played a football game today in Sanford Stadium. I was not there to watch it.

This is one of the few times since I've had season tickets that I simply chose not to go. There were several reasons for that decision.

The opponent was Middle Tennessee State, who had played UGA only once. In 2003, the Bulldogs beat the Blue Raiders 29-10. I saw that game. They didn't impress me then. Driving more than four hours to see a "football game" involving a team unlikely to score a single point.... I did that two weeks ago, and had no desire to repeat the experience so soon.

In addition, the game, originally scheduled for 7:15PM, was moved to noon to accommodate Hurricane Florence, which as I type this is still terrorizing North Carolina. I was excited about attending a night game, but couldn't get up for sitting hours in the same murderous afternoon heat that drove us away from the Austin Peay game. Besides, to reach Athens by noon, I would have to have set my alarm for 8AM. I'd rather be hit by a hurricane.

I'm not complaining about these events. I only enumerate my reasons above for my own elucidation when I look back on this season. I didn't miss the game, as it was televised on ESPN News. (Every game is televised these days, and I had a better view of the action at home than I do in my seats.) Given the same set of circumstances, I'd probably make the same decision. Even a football nut like me has to draw the line somewhere.

And for the record, the final score was 49-7. I regret nothing.

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We welcome the 13th Wriphe.com Batman and Football Month with the UGA home opener!

First things first, today's season opener was quite possibly the hottest game I've ever attended. Thermometer said 95°, but I'm positive that it was much hotter in the direct sun. Mom was particularly affected, and rather than tempt a case of heatstroke, we left halfway through the second quarter. That's by far the earliest I've ever departed the stadium. Of course, by then, UGA was up 24-0 on the helpless Austin Peay Governors, so it didn't fell like I was missing much. (Final score would be 45-0. The game was so lopsided and the heat so bad that the teams agreed to skip playing the last 5 minutes of the fourth quarter. Even the teams went home early.)

The game was notable for another reason: the debut of the offseason renovation to Sanford Stadium, complete with a new locker room, larger video monitor, and revision to the pregame ritual. Players now enter the field from the west endzone.

All that's nice, sure, but I personally found a more notable change to be that the television time-out official now holds up a large digital timer that lets fans know exactly how much longer the time out will last. That's an improvement, but given the weather conditions, it felt like I was looking at an oven timer telling me how much longer until I was done cooking.

Most of you reading this know that I spent the entire offseason debating whether I wanted to continue purchasing UGA season tickets. The school has capitalized on its SEC championship and national second-place finish by making a naked cash grab, including increasing ticket prices by 50%. With the season finally underway, I feel I need to get twice the enjoyment from my games to justify the price. Did I do that today? Yeah, I probably did. If nothing else, it was a unique experience I wouldn't have gotten on my couch.

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Another year in the books!

Kentucky 13, UGA 42

Today's Kentucky/UGA football game was the last home game for outgoing seniors Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, who combined for 238 yards and 5 touchdowns on the way to a 42-13 win.

(It wasn't really as close as the lopsided score indicates. By the end of the game, Kentucky players were gassed, and Georgia's second line of running backs kept gashing them. UGA had 381 rushing yards overall on the day.)

The win doesn't exactly make up for last week's collapse at Auburn, but it does inspire confidence going forward to Georgia Tech and the SEC Championship. Go Dawgs!

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To be continued...

 

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