The Battle Between the Hedges

Hayden Boudreaux

Though most Georgia fans would scoff at the idea of this game being considered a rivalry, it will indeed be one of the biggest games of the season for both teams as this theoretical rivalry plays out. 

On one side, we have the Eagles. They have 16 wins since their transition year in the FBS and only five losses, with four of those being to quality opponents. While winning the Sun Belt is no small task, beating an established FBS program again is at the top of the Eagle Christmas list. With a poor showing against West Virginia, the Eagles will be able to nearly erase that memory if they can pull out a 10 win season that includes a win over their former in-state big brother in UGA, regardless of their situation this year.

Everyone is aware of the quarterback and coaching struggle occurring at UGA, and that will definitely play into the hand of the Eagle defense. There will be less to worry about if the Bulldogs decide to go with either Ramsey or Bauta, as Lambert is the only one that has shown flashes of solid ability this season. The question will be whether or not their balanced level of SEC play will be able to outlast the stamina of the Georgia Southern secondary. Additionally, the front seven will have to match the strength of the offensive line to limit the amount of big plays. The injury of their Heisman candidate at running back about a month ago greatly limits their big play ability, but their stable of four and five star prospects is more than capable of going the distance on every snap.

The determining factor for the game is the Eagles jumping out to an early lead and holding on to it. Last week’s offensive performance may have worried fans, but the important thing to notice was the response to the early 10-0 deficit, The defense kept playing their game as was able to slow Troy to a grinding halt. To win the game, they may have to overcome a similar deficit late in the game and not allow the Bulldogs to beat them into submission. An Eagle win would be the perfect cap on the end of a dismal season for UGA fans, and it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back as far as Richt’s position with the team is concerned.

Unfortunately, one of our biggest psychological advantages may be absent during this matchup. The Eagles have had the element of surprise in most of their big games with the FBS, as no teams really expect them to be as quality as they actually are. UGA head coach Mark Richt was quoted this week as saying that the Eagles would definitely be a test and vouched for how good GS actually can play. We will likely get the Bulldog’s best shot, but if there was ever a time to pull out this win it would be now.

If the Eagles can make use of their lethal rushing attack, the defense duplicate their performance from last week and the Bulldogs fail to adjust, we will have the new champions of Georgia. Remember to take the win with grace, and be kind to your friends in Athens who are grieving, because the rivalry will begin for real this Saturday, whether they want it or not.