COLUMBIA, S.C. -- There's a problem with Georgia, but it's nothing that can't be fixed. That's the good news.
|Coach Mark Richt speaks with punter Brian Mimbs, UGA's best player on Saturday. (AP)|
But it's a fixable problem. It can be rectified as soon as Sunday night when coaches and media make their newest Top 25 polls and drop the Bulldogs like a left hook to the jaw. South Carolina almost made it easy on pollsters by landing a haymaker of its own, but Georgia bobbed and weaved and avoided being knocked out of the BCS championship picture with a season-saving 14-7 victory Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Now it's up to voters to do the right thing and smack Georgia in the mouth. Say, by dropping the Bulldogs to somewhere like seventh.
But there's a problem with the polls, and it's something that rarely gets fixed. That's the bad news.
Nobody likes to admit they were wrong, certainly not until they have no other choice, and pollsters are no different. Pollsters are notoriously slow to admit their mistakes, even though mistakes in the polls are so simple to make. Picking the preseason Top 25 is impossible to do with any accuracy, and everyone knows it, yet that initial poll sets the tone for the rest of the season. Be lucky enough to be ranked higher than you deserve in August, and you'll stay higher than you deserve most of the season. Get screwed in the first poll, and you might as well get used to the feeling.
Georgia was the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Voters swallowed enough pride a few weeks back when they dropped Georgia to No. 2 behind Southern California, but based on history, that was as much pride as you're going to see swallowed. And so that's as far as the Bulldogs will drop. You watch.
But did you watch this game? Georgia looked abysmal against South Carolina. South Carolina's defense is good, no question, but Georgia has alleged Heisman Trophy candidates at running back and quarterback, and Georgia managed just 252 yards.
South Carolina's defense isn't that good.
South Carolina's offense, meanwhile, isn't any good. Tailback Mike Davis is a dime-a-dozen back notable only for fumbling at the goal line midway through the fourth quarter and for breaking into a locked refrigerator in the USC weight room in August and getting busted by a surveillance camera. Quarterback Chris Smelley has been jerked around by coach Steve Spurrier. Star receiver Kenny McKinley has been injured.
The Gamecocks have issues. And still Georgia couldn't put them away. Couldn't come close. The Bulldogs' best player Saturday was their punter. Brian Mimbs launched kicks of 45, 51 and 77 yards in the fourth quarter when alleged Heisman candidate quarterback Matthew Stafford and alleged Heisman candidate tailback Knowshon Moreno were factually useless.
Stafford and Moreno did have great moments earlier. Stafford darted 30 yards on a keeper, threaded a 39-yard needle to A.J. Green and stuck his head into the scrum as a lead blocker for Moreno. And Moreno's touchdown was one of the prettiest 4-yard runs in the history of football.
But when it mattered, Stafford and Moreno didn't.