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Richt Knows The UGA-UT Game Is A Battle For Survival

Mark Richt seems to have a pretty good handle on this weekend’s matchup between his Georgia Bulldogs (1-4, 0-3 in the SEC) and the Tennessee Volunteers (2-3, 0-2 in the SEC).

“We have two teams in very similar situations.  Both are coming off heartbreaking losses.  Both of them are looking for a Southeastern Conference victory.  Both of them are teams that have tremendous fan bases and tremendous tradition and history of playing winning football so we are both, I would say, pretty desperate for a victory right now.

“I would think it’s going to be a highly-emotional game, a highly-charged game with two teams really fighting like mad for a victory and fighting like mad for the ability to show people we can play football.  It ought to be a good one.  Tennessee-Georgia, enough said I guess.”

Enough said, indeed.  Only those words used to say something a lot different.

This time around, the UGA-UT game is not a battle for survival in the SEC East but a battle for survival period.

We all know Richt’s situation.  He has gone from “There’s no way he could ever be on the hot seat” to “He’d better win or else” status in 13 months of action.  His team was slapped around by Lane Kiffin’s first (and only) UT squad last year.  If Derek Dooley can somehow take an even weaker roster to Athens and beat him, it would be a severe body blow to Richt’s chances of surviving long-term at Georgia.  I don’t believe that’s right… but I do believe it to be true.

Tennessee on the other hand is battling to keep the dream of six wins and a bowl trip alive.  After Georgia they face Alabama at home and a road game to South Carolina.  If they pull an oh-for in October, the Vols would need to run the November table to become bowl eligible.  And that’s not likely to happen with UT’s thin roster.  (That young, thin roster is the reason, by the way, that the Vols desperately want some type of bowl trip — and the extra practices that go with it.)

Georgia’s team appears to have no will to fight.  Just when victory appears to be in the Bulldogs’ grasp, they fumble it away.

Tennessee’s team had plenty of fight against LSU on Saturday, but how much did that win (Exuberance!) turned loss (Heartbreak!) sap their spirits?  I spoke to one former Vol this week who said, “There is no way they can recover.”

All things being equal(ly bad), you would normally give Georgia a slight edge for homefield advantage.  But if Dawgs fans don’t show up or don’t make noise, you can cross that factor off the list, too.

In truth, fans should expect the unexpected in Athens on Saturday.  But for totally different reasons than in previous years.

 




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