ATLANTA - Georgia's most important football game in 30 years is finally upon us. Or at least it's less than two hours away as I write this. There's been a week of analysis, so there's not much left to say ... But I'll try.
Here are some scattershot thoughts as I sit in the near-empty Georgia Dome, jazz music being piped in, causing me to want to down a scotch:
1. Yes, I watched ESPN's "Gameday," and saw that no one - including Georgia's very own David Pollack - picked the Bulldogs. (I also passed Lee Corso as he was getting in his car, and judging by the traffic he may still be sitting in his car.) I'm also on record picking Alabama, but with a bit more confidence in Georgia than I would have had a few weeks ago. As usual, I think Kirk Herbstreit had the best analysis of this game: Georgia will come amped to play, and this will be a dogfight most of the way, but in the end it's too hard to pick against Alabama.
1-b. Or perhaps it's too hard to pick Georgia. Most analysis of this game has granted that the Bulldogs have more talent on defense, and in fact may have more talent overall. But people need to see Georgia do it. They need to see the Bulldogs win the big game. Fair or not, that's the sense out there. The Bulldogs could turn all that around today, or they could reinforce the outside opinion that they're a product of their schedule and can't get over the top.
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1-c. However, the Bulldogs could change a lot of impressive with a well-played game, even if they don't win. Imagine if Georgia had not been blown out at South Carolina, and instead lost a close one. I'd have to think there would be a few less doubters right now.
2. Don't go making any hotel reservations on my account, but the real sense out there is that Georgia, if it doens't win, will end up in the Cotton Bowl against Texas. There was a real possibility that the Bulldogs would fall all the way to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but some back-room lobbying may avert that. It came from the SEC, which doesn't want its SEC championship game loser to fall too far, and the Chick-fil-A, which didn't want a Clemson-Georgia game, when one will occur to start next year.
3. There were a ton of Alabama fans around the stadium as I drove in - and by around, I mean within a five-mile radius. Obviously this game is a sellout, and will probably have an even split in the stands. Still, I don't quite remember as many LSU fans last year.