That Was Unexpected: Georgia 41, South Carolina 37

Remember how ugly the South Carolina-Georgia game was going to be? Remember how few points were going to be scored and how one big play was going to decide it?

Well, forget all of that except the last part. The last part turned out to be spot on.

I generally hate to speculate like this, because there's no telling what actually would have happened if South Carolina had hit an extra point down 38-37 in the fourth quarter. Perhaps Georgia wouldn't have been able to drive down the field if the Gamecocks hadn't had the wind sucked out of them by the gaffe that always happens against the Dawgs. Maybe after that three-and-out, South Carolina would have made some other mistake that even more obviously handed the game to Georgia.

But it would be impossible to overlook the blocked kick that deprived the Gamecocks of a chance to tie the game with an easy field goal. That play pretty much saved the game for the Dawgs, or at least kept them from facing the always dangerous prospect of overtime.

Not that either team comes out of this game without something to show for it. With Steve Spurrier finally confident enough to give Stephen Garcia chances to make bigger plays, the QB showed he has some of the potential that South Carolina fans have been waiting to see realized. Garcia wasn't flawless, but he was close enough to believe that the best days for the Gamecocks offense might be ahead of it.

Georgia, meanwhile, avoids a loss that could very well have sent the Dawgs into a tailspin. An 0-2 mark at this point would not have been a death knell for Mark Richt's team, but it would have left them staring at the real possibility of a 1-win or even winless August. And the Dawgs also found out that their offense is probably a lot better than advertised.

That's not to say that either of these teams are going to be able to challenge Florida or make a run at Atlanta this year, even if it seems a lot more likely now than it did a week ago. If Georgia allowed 427 yards to a Garcia-led South Carolina offense, however underestimated that unit might have been, how much success do you imagine Tim Tebow might have against the Dawgs?

But both of these teams found a reason to believe that this season will be at least as good as they anticipated before the year began, and maybe a little better. That makes the victory sweeter for Georgia fans. The loss might not sting any less for South Carolina fans, but at least they have a reason to believe they will feel the pain of defeat fewer times than they had right to expect 24 hours ago.

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