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Georgia Tech came to Athens and lost for the first time since 2012. They lost badly, too. Through the first three quarters, Tech managed to score only on a punt return. After UGA pulled the starters, final score was Georgia Tech 21, UGA 45.

Ga Tech 21, UGA 45

The game was essentially over when Georgia scored their first touchdown on their opening possession. I didn't see that, however. I hadn't yet reached my seat because my companion, Friend Ken, was 30 minutes late to the carpool. But he did buy me a pretzel in the third quarter, so I'm not inclined to hold too much of a grudge. (Unless I catch his cold. If I catch his cold, yeah, grudge back on.)

By the way, I would be remiss to mention that at halftime, the Georgia Tech band came out on the field and played a tribute to Aretha Franklin. Then the Georgia band followed with... a tribute to Aretha Franklin. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. indeed.

UGA finishes the regular season 11-1 (7-0 at home). I saw 5 of the 7 home games, and none of them were very competitive. Was that worth the increased ticket price? Maybe. Will I renew my tickets again next year? Maybe. It probably depends on how much they jack up the prices this off-season. We'll see what we see after the SEC Championship game.

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In 2014, Georgia Tech won in Sanford Stadium on a last second collapse by Georgia. Two years later, here we are again. Mark Richt was fired exactly a year after his mistake. Is Kirby Smart on the same path?

Georgia Tech 28, UGA 27

First of all, a word about Georgia Tech. The much maligned Paul Johnson brought crafty play calling and superior discipline to Athens and beat a team with superior talent 28-27. Congratulations. See that it never happens again.

Now back to Smart.

Before the season started, a friend asked me what I thought of Kirby Smart as the new head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. At the time, I wasn't nuts about some of the bad habits he brought over from his former employer (including hiding from the press, influencing the Georgia legislature to exempt his program from sunshine laws, and resisting the transfer of student athletes). However, I said I'd wait until the season ended to render an opinion. The season is now over, and I remain less than optimistic.

Fact: Despite playing all four of them most years for the better part of a century, Georgia has never lost football games to Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Georgia Tech in the same season before. Not under Richt, not even under Donnan. Add in that we only squeaked by Auburn because they ran out of players and it gets worse. That's an incredibly inauspicious start to the Kirby Smart era.

All season, I've heard about how Georgia is losing because its talent is lacking. Somehow, that never came up while Richt was coach. Smart started the season with Heisman hopeful Nick Chubb, his talented roommate Sony Michel, and the most talked about quarterback recruit in the SEC. He ended the season ranked 12 of 14 SEC teams in total points per game. Maybe former Defensive Coordinator Smart needs time to adjust to learning to coach offense, but his defense still finished 7 out of 14 SEC teams in total points allowed. Maybe, as his defenders claim, Smart doesn't have the players with the skill sets necessary to play "The System" he brought over from Alabama, but that's not the fault of Richt or the kids he recruited. That's on the coach who chose a system and failed to adapt it to suit the talent he had available.

I hope that the problems of 2016 represented growing pains for a rookie head coach learning on the job. The good news for Smart is that it will be hard to do any worse in 2017. That is, unless he's determined to lose to Auburn, too.

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Some games are a lot of fun. Others are excruciating. This was one of the latter. Long runs, fake kicks, fumbles for touchdowns, overtime: it would have been a great game to watch if I'd been cheering for anyone other than Georgia.

Ga Tech 30, UGA 24

UGA was clearly deflated by Missouri's successful bid to win the SEC East yesterday, and played like nothing mattered anymore, even in a contest against in-state rival Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs looked like world beaters on the opening drive, making me think that we hadn't looked that good on an opening drive since we played Florida. I'm thinking about opening up a side business reading tea leaves.

Yes, the Dawgs fumbled twice on goal line situations, leaving 14 points on the board in what would become a 30-24 loss, but I cannot let the squib kick pass without comment. When Georgia scored to pull 3 points ahead with 18 seconds remaining, everyone in the stands celebrated. All we had to do was kick deep, then keep Tech's nigh-unstoppable offense from reaching field goal position. Then, to our horror, Coach Richt called that squib kick leaving Tech only 20 yards from a tying field goal. Sometimes, conventional wisdom is wrong. But more often, coaches try to overthink football. At least Richt had the good sense to fall on his sword afterwards:

"Not a good decision there. ... I should've let him kick it deep and go cover the thing and see what happened from there."

Sure, that's easy to say after it goes wrong, but why would you consider a squib at all in that situation, coach?

You can see in the picture below that the scoreboard operator was so disappointed in the outcome, the screen was turned off within seconds of the game's dismal final play. And while I'm on the topic of the scoreboard, let me make a footnote on this season's newest crowd diversion: the karaoke cam. A different song was used each week, from "Livin' on a Prayer," to "Build Me Up Buttercup," the most popular being "Friends in Low Places." The least popular, based on crowd interaction, was today's "Bye Bye Bye," a fitting song given how our season ended.

Oh, what a season it might have been if not for that inexplicable loss at Florida, or the loss of Gurley, or that fateful squib kick.... As the saying goes, "there's always next year."

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For the eleventh time in 12 years, UGA beat Georgia Tech in our annual grudge match. Tech looked as ineffective as I've seen them all season, and that's saying something. If a team this bad can end up in the ACC Championship game, the ACC needs to give up on football.

Note to self: traffic after this game was the worst I've ever seen, which is especially odd as the cold weather and runaway score caused most fans to flee the stadium long before the game was over. Keep this in mind when planning for the game in 2014.

Georgia Tech 10, UGA 48

Twice in the past decade, I've thought Georgia would be in for a terrible season. The first time was in 2005, when I had doubts about D.J. Shockley as the team's quarterback. Turns out I was completely wrong then. The Bulldogs finished with a 10-3 season and the title of SEC Champions. The second time was this year. Again, I was wrong, and another SEC title is within the team's sights. If the Bulldogs win the SEC every time I am wrong, I could learn to live with that.

The only team left standing between UGA and the SEC Championship is Alabama, which beat Auburn 49 to 0 earlier today. We beat Auburn 38 to 0 two weeks ago. Hopefully, that means that Auburn is getting worse, not that Alabama is 11 points better than we are. I guess we'll find out this Saturday.

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Today's Tennessee/UGA game was like none other I'd seen in Sanford Stadium, and not because the Pride of the Southland Marching Band only played "Rocky Top" 16 times. It started as expected with the Bulldogs jumping out to a huge lead against the rival Volunteers. By the end of the first quarter, the Dogs led 21-10 with the Vols only touchdown coming off an interception return.

Everything pointed to a rout in the making, so I felt comfortable to go to the concession stand to buy a pretzel and Coke. This took forever, as lines were long with carefree fans, and the first concession stand I went was sold-out of pretzels, forcing another wait in different, longer line. While I was queuing, I saw Todd Gurley score again on the closed-circuit television and figured we'd be going home from the game early. How wrong I was.

Tennessee 44, UGA 51

I returned to my seat in the nick of time to watch Georgia turn the ball over twice inside the 20-yard line, essentially giving Tennessee a tie going into halftime. Things didn't get much better in the second half as UGA just couldn't put Tennessee away. Georgia prevailed in the end with a couple of timely interceptions by Sanders Commings, but with 95 points in a very long game, this did not turn out to be the afternoon/evening that anyone in attendance had expected.

I should point out that I went to the game with Dad, a Georgia Tech graduate. Today Georgia Tech lost to Middle Tennessee State, 49-28, and the news of that final score surprised everyone who heard it. However, everyone didn't hear it at the same time. Throughout the game it was very amusing to hear exclamations from various people as they discovered the final score in the Tech loss, each new shout of discovery triggering a grimace from my father. Good times, good times.

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I just returned from the latest University of Georgia vs Georgia Tech football game. Kickoff was at 7:45 PM (temperature: 43°!), but Trey and I did not reach the car to begin the return trip from Athens until 12:08 AM Sunday morning. Needless to say, Trey slept in the warm car on the way home, waking only briefly to say "that was one big garage." I still have no idea what that meant.

UGA 42, GT 34

The Bulldogs should send a nice thank you note to Tech, because this 42-34 victory was a gift. The UGA defense looked worse than usual, which is really saying something. The UGA offense fumbled early and often. Quarterback Murry's fourth down fumble in the fourth quarter was really our entire season in a microcosm. Tech ran on us at will all game long, but Tech botched the job late with a missed extra point (kicker's fault) followed by a panicked change in game plan (coach's fault). Thanks, Paul Johnson. You probably saved Mark Richt's job for another year by giving us our 6th win and making us bowl eligible. I suspect that you must be hoping that we will return the favor in a few years.

Outgoing Governor Sonny Perdue was at the game. His skybox was illuminated for the duration of the game so that the crowd could look up and watch him watching the game. The stadium PA announcer gleefully reminded the UGA and Tech fans in attendance that including Governor-elect Nathan Deal, the last 5 Georgia governors have all been UGA graduates.

Goodbye, Governor

True story: With 1:38 remaining in the game and UGA ahead by 1 point (re: botched PAT), the Georgia Tech defense intentionally allows UGA running back Washaun Ealey to run for 20 yards into the end zone. Had Ealey simply fallen down on the ground after passing the first down marker, UGA would have been able to run out the clock and win the game, Tech having already used its final timeout. For many, many minutes afterwords, Trey grumbled about the selfish play by Ealey and the poor coaching by UGA in selecting a running back who passed up the win for personal glory. As Trey and I walked out of the stadium in the post-game crowd, a young boy looked up at his father and spontaneously lamented, "if Ealey had just fallen down on the ground when he passed the first down marker, we would have won that game right there!" The fact that the situation overlooked by Georgia's players and coaches was self-evident to a little boy of no more than 10 cheered Trey right up.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I celebrated the Ealey touchdown alongside most of the crowd while Trey scowled. Sure, I had already figured that a UGA victory was practically guaranteed with a UGA first down, but I guess I forgot in the momentary excitement. What can I say? I'm just a sucker for scoring easy points against arch-rival Tech. Go Dawgs!

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The stadium game clock wasn't the only thing broken during today's season-ending game against Georgia Tech. So was our defense.

Georgia Tech 45, UGA 42

I arrived in time to applaud the graduating eligibility-expiring senior players. I joined in standing ovations for both Larry Munson and Vince Dooley. I celebrated our 28-12 lead at halftime. I listened to the seated band -- they weren't allowed on the field because of the cold, continuously drizzling rain -- rehash Led Zeppelin tunes. (Our marching band played pop music all season, making sitting through halftime shows seem like listening to Muzak in an elevator with 90,000 other occupants. Ugh.) Then, at the start of the third quarter, I went to the men's room. By the time I returned to my seat, Tech had scored a 60-yard touchdown, beginning a third quarter best forgotten. (Tech scored 26 points in the third. Georgia answered with what seemed like 26 penalties. Double ugh.)

Yes, it's true, the Dawgs were beaten by the option offense. The option, an offense that few in the SEC dare run because of the ease with which a speedy, disciplined defense can stop it. Unfortunately for UGA, it's been some time since we were very disciplined on defense. We lost by 3 points, not because our offense was lacking or Tech's defense achieved any significant gains, but because we simply could not prevent the Yellow Jackets from pitching the ball to the outside and running for 20 yard gains. Ye gods, what a miserable half of football we played.

So ends our 2008 regular season, in which the Georgia Bulldogs entered ranked number 1 in the country, and ended ranked number 3 in the SEC. Next year, let's work it in reverse: start low and end high. How 'bout it, Dawgs?

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Georgia beat Georgia Tech for the 6th year in a row today. My father, a Tech graduate, was very irritable in the stands after Georgia scored the go-ahead points in the final 2 minutes. But even he still had a good time. I suspect that we'll be playing in the Dec. 30 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, but I'll be damned if I know what ACC team we'll play against.

Tech 12, UGA 15

It's been a long, puzzling season for the Bulldogs. Frankly, I'm a little surprised that we finished with a respectable 8-4 record. After the Homecoming loss to Vanderbilt, I figured we had no chance against Auburn or Georgia Tech. I guess that goes to show what I know.

Looking back at the season, I remember the hecklers during the Tennessee game, the buffalo on the sideline at the Colorado game, and the UGA tailgaters offering the Vanderbilt faithful barbecue after their victory. Yes, it's been a pretty good year, all things considered. And there are only 280 days to go until our September 1, 2007 kickoff against Oklahoma State. Go Dawgs!

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To be continued...

 

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