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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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The draw for the opening home game of the 2019 Georgia season wasn't the opponent, Murray State, but the dedication of "Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium."

Murray State 17, UGA 63

The dedication was held about 15 minutes before kickoff to a partially-filled stadium. Vince deserved a better crowd, but that's what happens when you schedule something for pregame against a sub-par opponent in 95° heat, the same temp that drove Mom and me from the stadium before halftime on opening day last year. Even football legends are subject to the weather.

As for the game itself, friend Randy — who replaced Mom at the last minute when she said one 95° opening day was enough for her — and I spent most of our time drinking bottles of water and trying to guess whether Georgia, who managed only a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, could manage to pull out a win against the 49-point spread. They didn't, but only barely. Final score was Murray State 17, UGA 63 (a 46-point differential). And yes, we watched all the way until the last second had run off the clock, a decision I'm sure my poor crispy skin will be paying for tomorrow.

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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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What else is there to say about a game that UGA won, 66-27?

UMass 27, UGA 66

For one thing, it looked like the team was enjoying themselves. It sure felt like *everybody* got a touchdown.

And UMass scored on a 1 second drive to end the third quarter. That was impressive.

And in honor of Veterans Day, the band played songs for all branches of the armed forces at halftime (pictured above).

And Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were in the house. Each received a standing ovation when introduced.

And, boy, did I enjoy my Coca-Cola and pretzel. Delicious!

Also of note: This was Friend Mike's second UGA game. He has now attended more UGA games than Alabama games. That's a good thing.

Now bring on Georgia Tech.

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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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To be continued...

 

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