It has been a September to remember for the Georgia Bulldogs. Taking two out of three games from a staunch set of Top 10 teams has put the Dawgs in the driver’s seat in the SEC East, as their one, agonizing defeat conveniently came at the hands of a decidedly orange out-of-conference foe. It would be hard to expect much more from the #6 team in the country, as their resilience, poise and confidence seem to build with each game. Coach Mark Richt’s appreciation for his Bulldogs’ gritty victories was evident in the tears he wiped away in a post-game interview, struggling with the emotions of a moment that seemed far too big for September.
Yet this was no ordinary September. While perennial powerhouses around the nation began their schedules with cupcake games and perhaps one or two early conference battles, Aaron Murray and the Dawgs were thrown into the fire from the very start. Considering Murray’s well documented shortcomings in previous games against top ranked teams, it seemed an opening loss to Clemson was a sign of more of the same. But in the aftermath of Saturday night’s victory against LSU, it would appear the ghosts of Murray’s past were perhaps finally vanquished–fading away as a sea of red rose as one to greet their beloved, record breaking signal caller.
It is with this personal victory in mind that the Dawgs’ curtain call following their 44-41 win over Les Miles’ Tigers doesn’t seem so preemptive after all. If their often overmatched defense can withstand a Heisman worthy performance by Zach Mettenberger, one would think they could handle the relatively routine slate of SEC games set to follow. Now, this isn’t to say that anything in the SEC is routine–year after year, a war of attrition is borne out in what is widely accepted as the country’s strongest conference. There is little room for error against the stiff competition Georgia will be facing week in and week out against the likes of Tennessee, Auburn, and their hated rival Florida.
But this past week’s victory seemed a little different. There is always a clear turning point in the seasons of champions. Perhaps, in the case of these Bulldogs, this turning point must be stretched out to a long month of September football. It is in the defining moments of these past few weeks that Georgia has been transformed. From a normally calm and stoic Mark Richt being overcome with emotion to Aaron Murray’s continued emergence as an elite leader and quarterback, there is something about this season that just seems special.
Yet with Todd Gurley day-to-day and Malcolm Mitchell sidelined for the season, only time will tell. The fate of the SEC East may be in the Bulldogs’ hands, but if there’s anything to be gleaned from this wild first month of college football, it’s that anything can happen on a Saturday afternoon in the heart of fall.